Back on the Braes

My friend Steven got in touch on Thursday asking whether I was planning to run on the Gleniffer Braes at the weekend so we arranged to meet at 6.30am this morning for an 11 mile run.

It was another lovely morning with the sun shining.  It was still quite cold and I wore gloves but it was so good to be able to run on the Braes in good weather.  The track too was so dry in comparison to last Saturday when I ran.

I wore my inov-8s but would have been fine in my Hokas.  I should have worn the inov-8s last week and Hokas this week rather than the other way round!  But it did mean we were able to run steadily all the way round.

We haven’t had a chance to run together for a number of weeks so we spent the time catching up on various races and runs we’ve been doing. We felt this lovely morning was a reward for the tough conditions we have run in during the winter.

Steven has entered a team for the West Highland Way Relay race and I’m going to join the team of Steven, David and Norman for a training run on Sunday 4th May. That will be 3 weeks before the HM110 so fits in perfectly.  The plan is to run 24miles from Glencoe to Fort William so covering the final two sections of the relay.

Katrina very kindly offered to come with us and after dropping us off drive up to Fort William and then run back up the course and run in with us.

Steven has a new Garmin watch which has bluetooth and an app on his iPhone which means that he can set it up so people can follow his run as he runs! It is like having your own tracker.

Once we finished I had a look on the sight and it worked really well ….

Steven - braes

I have now run 87.72miles this week making it my biggest week of the year.  I have a 9-10mile run planned for tomorrow but wondering whether I should run at least 12.28 to reach 100 miles for the week!  We’ll see but I think I’d be better to stick to the plan!

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Recovery Run

After my back to back runs at the beginning of the week I wasn’t sure how much more I would run this week.  In my plan I had 3 more runs but I wanted to see how I recovered.

I was really pleased that my legs feel really good so I went for an easy 6miler at lunch time from work. It was very windy and running into the wind was hard but really easy when the wind was behind me.

The Hardmoors 110 race is now just over 5 weeks away so it’s all getting very exciting.  Next week I’m planning to do a double Ben Lomond run.  I’ll go up the Ptarmigan Ridge and down the tourist path then back up the tourist path before descending the Ptarmigan Ridge.  That should be a good workout for my quads.

I uploaded my 3 runs from this week to Strava and was pleased to see that I’m top of the West Highland Way club!!  No doubt someone will catch me up over the weekend but it’s fun to be at the top while it lasts!!


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Report of our 2 day recce run on the Hardmoors route

When I planned my training and build up to the Hardmoors 110 race I was really keen to get on the route for 2 days and cover the final 70 miles or so of the route. My good friend Dave Troman who is also doing the HM 110 was keen to join me so we were able to find a couple of days that suited us both.

I drove down to Keswick on Sunday afternoon and then Dave, Tracey and I drove over to North Yorks where we were staying with friends of Dave and Tracey.  As a bonus the house has a TV projector so Dave and watched the final round of the Masters in great style!

The plan for the 2 days was ….

  • Monday 14th April Kildale to Whitby (36miles)
  • Tuesday 15th April Whitby to Filey (34miles)

For these two days I had a few key aims …

  • To get 70 miles of running in my legs over the two days. This was my big week between the HM55 and the HM 110 races.
  • To recce the route carefully. I have done the race once before in 2009 but I can’t really remember much of the second half of the route. I was struggling big time from Ravenscar onwards and had my head down most of the way!!
  • To work out my mini-splits.  I like to break down the route into bite sized sections of between 2-4 miles so I was going to work out where they are going to be.
  • To take lots of photos and enjoy the views as on race day a lot of the seecond half of the route will be in the dark.
  • To rid my mind of lots of negative thoughts I have about the second half of the route and replace them with lots of positive thoughts to inspire me for the race!!

We had superb weather over both days and I can safely say that all my aims were fulfilled.  I thought it stead of my normal written report I would post some of the many photos we took over the 2 days to give you a feel of the trip.

Setting off at 8.45am from Kildale ….


View of Roseberry Topping from Cook Monument ….


Approaching Roseberry Topping ….

NOVATEK CAMERAAt the top of Roseberry Topping ….

recce04Guisborough …

recce05There are plenty of signs to follow …

recce06Impressive railway bridge just before Saltburn …

recce07A quick stop at Saltburn after 15miles …

NOVATEK CAMERAThe start of the coastal path …

recce09Looking back towards Saltburn ….

recce10The route is easy to follow …. just make sure you keep the sea on your left …

recce11Heading towards Skinningrove …

recce12Climbing out of Skinningrove …


Running along the cliff tops ….

recce14Some steep cliffs to avoid ….


Staithes ….

recce16Time for a photo ….

recce17Running along the beach at Runswick Bay. If the tide is in during the race runners will have to wait for the tide to go out (the clock stops for them!) ….

recce18Climbing up the gully off the beach ….

recce19Looking back towards Runswick Bay ….

recce20Approaching Sandsend ….

recce21End of day 1 at Whitby 35.6miles in 7.02.22 ….

recce23Thanks to Dave’s wife Tracey and friend Alison who picked us up and drove us back to Kildale …



Day 2 starting at Whitby ….


Whitby Abbey looking spectacular ….

recce26Another beautiful day with the sun shining ….

recce27Heading towards the Whitby Fog Centre ….

recce28The path hugs the coast ….

recce29Running down the very steep hill at Robin Hood’s Bay ….

recce30Ravenscar in the distance ….

recce31Steep steps to navigate past the Youth Hostel ….

recce32Heading up to Ravenscar ….

recce34Lots more signposts to follow ….

recce35Dave points the way to the Ravenscar checkpoint ….

recce36Ravenscar Checkpoint ….

recce37Back on to the coastal path ….

recce38More great views to enjoy ….

recce39Looking back ….

recce40Lots of steps to descend and ascend ….

recce42Dave checking the map ….

recce43Next checkpoint at Scarborough in the far distance ….

recce44Scarborough getting closer ….

recce45There is a 3 mile run along the promenade at Scarborough ….

recce46The Castle at Scarborough close up ….

recce47Looking back towards Scarborough Castle ….

recce48This is whereI went wrong in 2009 at the end of promenade. I went up on the path to the right rather than going on the lower path to the left ….


Final push to Filey ….

recce50Climbing up the hill out of Scarborough ….

recce51Filey Brigg in the distance ….

recce52The path goes past a few caravan parks ….

recce53Filey will a very welcome sight ….

recce54I loved this sign!! ….



The route from Filey Brigg goes along the Promenade to the far side of Filey ….

recce56The final hill up to the finish at Filey Secondary School ….


End of Day 2 – 34.8 miles.  Thanks for a great run Dave!


Splits from the 2 days ….

Day 1 splits

Day 2 splits

Dave has also done an excellent video of our run ….

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Braes run, Wedding and London Marathon

Yesterday I went for a run at 8am up on the Braes.  It was really windy and wet so I put on my OMM jacket and needed it. The mistake I made was to go in Hokas rather than my inov-8′s so I was slipping a fair bit.

The wind and rain was particularly strong at the top but it was good to get out for a run. As I made my way down after a couple of hours the cloud was blown away and the sun came out.

In the afternoon I had the privilege of conducting the wedding for David and Lauren. They had a great day and it was fun to be involved. wedding 2

This morning we decided to stay in and watch the London Marathon.  There were some great races and interesting to see how Mo got on in his first marathon.  Mo had a tough time but I’m sure he learnt a lot from the whole experience. I wonder whether he will refocus on the track for Rio 2016 or stay with the Marathon.

This afternoon I’m off to Keswick to meet up with Dave.  We then head over to North Yorks for our 2 day recce run on the Hardmoors route which we are both looking forward to.

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Review of the week …

We left home on Saturday 5th April for a week away with trips to Liverpool and South Wales.  Here is a summary of supporting Katrina and Neal in their marathons at Manchester and my runs during the week.


We drove to Liverpool on Saturday afternoon meeting up with Neal and Caroline on the way.  We all stayed with my Mum and went out for a meal at the Fiveways Pub in the evening. The runners Neal and Caroline went for fish and chips to fuel their race.

MM 10

We were up at 6am on Sunday in time for breakfast then we set off for Manchester at 7.15am. The journey was straight forward but the last mile to Old Trafford took a while. It was good that Neal had pre booked a parking spot.

Neal & Katrina had time to visit the loo and a photo before heading off to the start.

MM 2

Philip Nicholls came over to say hello as we waited. The last time we saw Philip was in 1995 when we were in India. He was in our dorm at Hebron School. This was to be his first marathon.

MM 9

Caroline & I waved off our runners then walked down the road half a mile or so to watch them go by. It was so packed that we didn’t see either of them! We crossed the road to watch them all come back a few minutes later.

Andi Jones who won the race already with a lead

Gemma had started well and we gave her a cheer as she went past.  Looking at the photo now she was running alongside Jez Bragg!

MM 3

We spotted Neal who shouted out that he had forgotten his gloves! He looked to be going well and we really hoped he would achieve his sub 3hr goal. We didn’t see Katrina though and it made me realise how difficult it is to spot someone in the crowds.

MM 4

We walked out to the Metro station and jumped on the tram to Brooklands which is the 9mile point in the race. We arrived in plenty of time to see the leaders go by. Andi was well ahead of the chasing pack. Gemma Rankin from Kilbarchan was going well in second place.

We saw Neal looking focused and running strongly.  He was ahead of the sub 3hr pacer so all was good. I started looking more carefully for Katrina before the sub 3.45 pacer but we never saw her.  I was a little concerned particularly when the sub 4hr pacer came and went.

MM 5

The tracker on my phone wasn’t updating the times from 10k so we didn’t have any idea of where Katrina was.  My friend Adam who I’d met at the Hardmoors 55 met us as we waited.  We crossed the road and watched the runners come back up the road at the 16mile point.

The leaders were running strongly and Gemma was still in 2nd place. Neal came through a little later than we’d hoped. As he passed he said his shins were hurting so we feared that his sub 3hr goal was in danger and the last 10miles was going to be tough.

At some point the tracker started working and we discovered why we had missed Katrina. She had gone through 10k in 50mins which was a good 5mins faster than planned! As we headed to catch the Metro back to the finish as we’d planned Adam rang to say he had seen Katrina at the 14mile point. She was going well and not far behind the 3.30 pacer!

We decided to go back up to the course and wait to see Katrina through the 16mile point.  We knew we could still get back to the finish in time to see Neal finish.  Katrina wouldn’t be expecting to see us at 16miles so hopefully it would give her a boost with 10miles to go.

The 3.30 pacer went by and we scanned the runners to see Katrina.  I regretted not bringing my glasses as I was struggling to see the runners clearly. Fortunately Caroline has good eye sight and spotted Katrina!  We shouted as she reached us and the look of surprise and joy on her face was well worth the wait. She was looking really good and well ahead of the sub 3.45 pacer so things were going to plan.

We jumped on the tram and made it back to the finish with about 2.30 on the clock. We saw Gemma finishing strongly in 2.40. Then Caroline spotted Jez Bragg. We hadn’t realised he was running so it was good to see him finishing in 2.42.

MM 6

Caroline was counting down the minutes for Neal to finish in sub 3hrs. Sadly it came and went but only by a few minutes.  He was working hard to finish in the best time he could. His 3.02.33 was a pb by almost 5mins and that sub 3hrs is within reach. Caroline was already looking for options for him on her phone!

As we waited for Katrina to finish we cheered on all the runners. Some were looking really strong and had paced it well. Others were really struggling and doing all they could to keep moving forward. One poor guy was suffering with really bad cramp and had to lie down for a minute or so. Once he got up he got a good cheer from the crowd.

We didn’t have to wait too long for Katrina to arrive.  She was running well but really focusing on getting to the finish line as soon as possible!   She finished in 3hrs 42mins 33secs.  A superb run. I thought she was capable of running under 3.45 as she had been going well in training but you never know how it will work out on the day.

Caroline and I headed to the finish were we found Neal but Katrina was no where to be found.  It took 25mins before I found her …. waiting by the car which our plan B.  Plan A was the meeting area but the runners Katrina asked didn’t know where it was.

MM 8

Anyway we all met up and drove back to Liverpool with lots of post race analysis on the way. Neal was happy with his run despite not cracking the sub 3hr. His time though qualifies him for Edinburgh on 24th May.  He had until 5pm on Monday to take up a place ….. which he did by 7am on Monday!!

Katrina was thrilled with her pb and is now considering very seriously doing London next year as her time easily gives her a good for age place.


Caroline & I went out at 8am for a 5mile run.  I took her on one of my favourite routes which goes through 3 local parks that I used to run when I lived at home 30 years ago!  It goes through 3 parks, Childwall Woods, Black Woods and Calderstones Park and along Queens Drive.  I gave Caroline a bit of a history lesson as we ran!

Mon Run

It was good to get out and run before our drive to South Wales where we were going to visit Katrina’s parents. I was feeling good and happy that I had a spring to my step after Saturday’s struggle.


I went out for a 6mile run behind the house where we are staying. It involved a fair climb up and then I did an out and back along a disused railway track. I came back a slightly different way. The weather was good and again my legs felt fine.




I had planned a longer run of 18miles.  I set off with a map and an idea to do an out and back over a hill opposite the house. We had walked on this path with Katrina’s Dad a few years ago and I thought I would be able to remember the way.

I was wrong!  After a couple of miles the path I was on disappeared so I tried to head across the moor to find the path but I didn’t see it.  I was getting a little concerned that I might wander off line completely and struggle to find my way back.

The map below shows where I missed the dotted line of the path …

Run Route 2

My Suunto watch has a setting where you can get directions back to the start of your run so I did that and followed my watch back to where I started.  The first 5miles or so of my run took me over 1hrs 30mins which wasn’t great!

So I worked out a new route which involved a bit of road, a climb over a hill and then a run back along the disused railway I’d been on the day before.  I had to add a couple of other out and backs to make up the 18miles I had planned!

Run route 1

So it wasn’t quite the run I had planned but I was out for 4hrs 22mins so plenty of time on feet and lots of climbing!  It was also good to be able to run strongly for the second half of the run.



Before we left for our drive to Leek and a visit to Katrina’s brother and family I went for a 6mile road run. The plan was an out and back so I couldn’t get lost!!

I was up and out just after 7am and had a good steady run on the road.  We are now home. I’m planning a run on the Braes tomorrow morning before going to a Wedding in the afternoon.

I’ve been asked to conduct the Wedding of David and Lauren which I’m really looking forward to.

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A bit of a struggle this morning

I ran home from work last night and then wanted to do 9miles or so on the Braes this morning before heading off to my swimming lessons.

My legs felt really sluggish this morning and it was really hard going.  So much so I did something that I very rarely do …. I cut my run short and turned round after 3.6 miles.

I think the Hardmoors 55 race caught up with me a bit.  Maybe Wednesday’s 15miles up and down Ben Lomond was a bit too soon.  I felt good on Wednesday but maybe I paid for it today! Anyway I’m sure I’ll bounce back next week with a spring in my step!

This afternoon we are heading off to Liverpool to stay with my Mum. Tomorrow Katrina is running the Greater Manchester Marathon.  Neal is also running so they are also staying with us at my Mum’s.  So Caroline and I are on support duty tomorrow.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how they both get on.

The marathon has live tracking so if you want to follow them follow this link.  Here are the friends I’m particularly looking out for …

  • Katrina #5356
  • Neal #3489
  • Gemma Rankin #103
  • Mark Johnston #15022

trackerSo all the best to everyone running.  I’m looking forward to cheering them all on!


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Ben Lomond Run

Last year I did a number of runs up and down Ben Lomond with Jonny and we were keen to do it again this year. The main aim of these runs is to strengthen our guads for the downhill running. We walk up as fast as we can and run hard on the way down.

I will be supporting Katrina this weekend as she runs the Greater Manchester Marathon so I knew I won’t be able to get a longer run in so asked Jonny whether he fancied running 15miles. Jonny is doing the Fling in a few weeks time so it fitted in well for him to.

So we parked the car in the lay-by with just under 4miles to go to Rowardennan.



So we’d run to Rowardennan on the West Highland Way path run up Ben Lomond on the Ptarmigan path, back down the tourist route and back along the path to the car.

ben l 6


Which included over 4,000ft of climbing ….ben l 7We set off just before 5pm and had a nice run along the path to Rowardennan. The authorities have been doing a lot of work on the path and still have a fair bit to do.  We came across a few piles of stones which are ready to laid on the path.


We arrived at Rowardennan and decided to go for the Ptarmigan path. Ben Lomond was in cloud and we knew it would be windy but we like a challenge!

We walked as hard as we could all the way up. Once we got into the cloud it was very windy, cold and wet.  I did have a chuckle to myself as we were in shorts fighting our way through the wind!

For a while the path zig-zags and in lone direction the wind was behind us then we turned and the wind was straight into our faces!! We saw a few bits of snow near the top but we could skirt round most of them.

I was feeling warm enough except for my hands that were getting dumb.  I forgot to take my buff so my head was a bit colder than I’d like but I put my hood up on my OMM jacket and I was okay.

I must admit I was glad to see the top and then we were able to head back down. We didn’t stop for a photo as my hands were too cold and the view was non-existent!

Jonny very kindly too pity on me and we made steady progress on the way down. The last time we did this before the Ultimate Trials 100k race in September we had a race up and down.  I was about 8mins faster to the top but Jonny zoomed past me with less than a mile to go!

It was very eery in the mist, especially as it was starting to get dark as well. I wondered what would have happened if one of us twisted an ankle on the top as I don’t think we would have lasted too long!

We did pause for a photo further down and before it got too dark …


We got down before it got too dark and then we set off for the 4 miles along the West Highland Way route to the car.  We met a couple of girls who are walking the West Highland Way and who stayed at Frances and Jonny’s B&B in Drymen the night before.

They had got lost a couple of times and were heading for the Youth Hostel at Rowardennan.  They hadn’t booked so I hope there was room for them!

We were hoping to make it back without using our head torches but it got really dark so I put mine on for the last mile or so.

We arrived back at the car just on 9pm so the 15miles had taken us 4hrs 7mins.  A great evening out! I stayed the night in Drymen and then Jonny took me to work this morning.

I had an easy run home from work tonight. I’m pleased with how my legs have recovered from the Hardmoors 55 so all is looking good as I build up to the big one …. Hardmoors 110.


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