Pollok parkrun

Katrina and I decided to have a change from Linwood and once we knew our good friends Neal & Caroline  with Harrison were running Pollok and it was Pollok’s 8th birthday run then we decided to head over to Pollok.

We arrived in time to do a mile or so to warm up.  It was cold but dry and no wind so perfect for a good blast. Katrina was making her normal comments about taking it easy, enjoying the run etc which normally means she’ll have a good run!

I decided to set off a little more conservatively than previous parkruns at Linwood and see how I felt.  We were chatting to Neal & Caroline and their friend Debbie with Finn as the race director was giving the briefing. There were a couple of people who were running their 250th parkrun which is very impressive.

When they said go I glanced down at my watch ready to start to when I realised I hadn’t set it up! So I spent the first 10 secs running down the course setting it up! School boy error but showed me that I wasn’t quite in race mode.

Once my watch had found the satellite and started I got going weaving my way through the runners ahead.  I spent the whole of the first lap catching people which was actually pretty enjoyable!

I was keeping my breathing under control and pushing hard but not flat out. By the end of the first lap I was in a little pocket of my own with a group of 5-6 about 20 yards ahead and I couldn’t really hear anyone behind.

Once we got onto the long uphill I caught and went past 3-4 or more runners and one guy moving very quick went past me.

I felt I was able to run hard right to the end which was a benefit of going off a little more conservatively. On the run in to the finish one of the guys who I had gone past went past me.

I finished 30th in 20:28 and was 1st in my age category M55-59. I wandered back up the course to cheer in Katrina, Neal and Caroline.

I saw Neal pushing Harrison finishing fast with Katrina a few strides behind her!! Caroline also had a good run and was pleased to run 1min 15secs faster than last week.

We joined lots of other parkrun folk at Pollok House for coffee/tea and scone and a birthday cake to celebrate their 8th anniversary.


Photo thanks to Pollok parkrun


Debbie with Finn and Neal & Harrison



Results ….


This afternoon I checked the results on the web site and was very impressed to see that Katrina was ahead of me on the age graded results. I think this is the first time that has happened!! screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-14-42-05

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Review of November

In November I ran 136.93 miles which included the Wooler Trail Marathon.

List of all my runs in November


As a graph …


As a diary style ….


I like to keep a track of the types of runs I do each month/year ….


I am now 260 miles short of achieving my 2016 miles for the year. I have decided not to try and run the miles to finish the challenge. I like to have an easier December before starting again on 1st January so the plan for December is to run 3-4 times a week and see how many miles I’m short of the target.


I missed the first two weeks of the year when I had my ‘incident’ and I’ve not really caught up! I got past the red line during the Hardmoors 200 but then lost it again as I needed to recover after the race!!

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Recovery Week after Wooler Marathon

My plan was to have an easy week after the Wooler Trail Marathon and that is what I did. On Monday and Tuesday my quads felt a little battered but by Wednesday they had recovered enough to go for a gentle run.

Wednesday – Run after work with Katrina & Tracey

It was good to run with Katrina and Tracey as we spent the whole time chatting about the race and other things and the time flew by. My legs felt a lot better than I thought they might so was happy with my first recovery run.

Friday – Lunchtime Run around Pollok Park

I say lunchtime but I actually ran at 10.45am as I had something on at lunchtime and we were heading to Inverness to visit Jo, Jonno, Seth and Hollie so wouldn’t have time after work.

I ran my loop around Pollok Park and it was a glorious winter run. The sun was shining with no wind and it felt great to be out running!

Sunday – Morning run at Alness

We were staying with Hollie at Alness and I’m working on some runs from her house. There are loads of trails not far from where she stays so I explored a bit for my run before breakfast.


I took a few photos on the way trying out a new fish lens for my iPhone and also did a ‘live’ video on Facebook!




So a decent recovery week. My plan for the rest of the year is to run 3-4 times a week without pushing too hard.


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Wooler Trail Marathon Race Report

Sunday 20th November 2016

I entered this race after finishing the Lakes in a Day ultra after my good friend Andy Cole encouraged me to run and I’m so glad he did! As there was also a half marathon and Katrina has been wanting to get back into trail running after a few years of road running it meant we both could take part.

We had booked beds in the Race HQ Wooler YHA and were given one of the Shepherd’s huts which was very cosy and warm. We left Paisley at 2.30pm and had an easy journey arriving just after 5pm. Garry and Tim, race directors, were setting up the registration so we headed into Wooler and went for something to eat at the Black Bull. As we waited for our food we watched Andy Murray finish off his epic semi-final win against Raonic.


It was good to be able to register in the evening. It was a very straight forward process with kit check. The weather forecast all week had been for heavy rain but as the day progressed the rain forecast was replaced with clear but cold weather which would be ideal.

We sat around as various folk arrived to register. It was great to see Lucy Colquhoun who was running. Ross Moreland was due to be running as well but work commitments meant he couldn’t make it. Ross had booked beds at the YHA but when Lucy went to find out which bed she was in she discovered Ross had booked beds in the Berwick YHA!!

Fortunately Richard and Keziah had a spare bed in their room so Lucy went off to see she could stay with them!!

After registration closed around 9pm Garry set up a big TV and put on the film of 2010 Western States race. I watched some of it but ended up having a great chat with Garry.

I like to have some sort of time goal for races I do but I literally had no idea for this one. I thought if I could average 9min miles then I would finish around 4:15. When I asked Tim and Garry what would they think would be reasonable they said that if they do under 7hrs on a training run they are happy! So anything under 6hrs would be a really good run so that became my new goal!

I’m glad they told me as it gave me a more realistic idea of how long I was going to be out for. The half marathon route doesn’t go as high and obviously as far but still is a challenging route so for Katrina anything under 3hrs would be a good run.

We had a good night’s sleep and got up at 6.30am to have some breakfast. As I ate my porridge lots of runners were arriving to register. The organisation was excellent and runners were quickly registered and ready to go.


Andy Cole arrived and it was good to chat before the race. Andy had left Keswick at 4.15am to drive over! He said the roads were quite icy in the last few miles.

Tim and Garry gathered everyone together outside the YHA for the race briefing. Thankfully they didn’t chat too long as it was pretty cold. I had decided to wear my shorts as even though I knew it was going to be really cold my legs don’t really suffer and I hate having sweaty legs! Out of the 140 or so starters I only saw a couple of other runners with shorts on!


I wore two tops (a merino wool base layer and my green top), skins, shorts, drymax socks, buff and gloves. For the whole race I didn’t have to put my jacket on and the only change I made was to take off my buff and gloves at various times. In fact I never took my rucksack off at all for the whole race.


The race started about half a mile away so we all walked along a path to the start. I walked with Andy and we chatted about our plans for next year. We are always planning the next race and adventure! Andy’s big one for next year is the Dragon’s Back and I really hope he makes in this time after being timed out in 2015.

The race started at 8.15am. Everyone seemed very positive and looking forward to the challenge ahead.


Waiting to start


The route


Route profile with the Cheviot as the highest point

Start to CP1 Cheviot Base – 5.89miles

I set off about half way down the field as I was keen to do my normal race plan of starting steady and didn’t want to get caught up with others and running too quick. I had not been on the route at all but looking at the race profile I knew that the first 8 miles or so is mainly uphill leading up to the highest point the Cheviot at 2,600ft.

So I was keen to try and keep my heart rate around 135 which I felt would keep the pace sensible and mean I could run right to the end. It does take a lot of discipline but I’m getting better at it with each race. As soon as it reached 145 I eased off even if it meant letting people pass or move away.


Path early on – btw that’s not me! (Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy)

Once things settle down I tend to hold my position with a few going past me and me going past one or two. It took a few miles to warm up but once I had I felt really comfortable the gear I was wearing. The ground was pretty icy and frozen when meant that it was actually quite dry underfoot.


4 mile mark – I’m in green in leading the second line of runners. (Photo thanks to the official photographer)


Forgot to smile but I was enjoying it!! (Photo thanks to the official photographer)

After a few miles I was working my way through past a few runners. I caught up with a group of runners and for the next 5-6 miles we yo-yoed as we seemed to have different strengths. I seemed to be stronger on the ascents and flats and they went past me on the descents.


Great views all around (Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy)

I had a few brief chats with runners as I passed or was passed. Everyone seemed to be really enjoying the start of the race and we were all grateful that it was dry with hardly any wind.

I had a chat with one guy who thanked me for our Lakeland videos. He said he did the race for the first time in 2012 and watched the videos that dave and I made that year.

I was keeping to my heart rate zone and quite happy with my pace and how I was feeling. I had my splits based on a 4:15 finish and while I knew that was going to be way off it was helpful to get an idea. I had 53mins for the 5.9 miles to CP1 and as I arrived I was quite happy to see that I arrived.

I had a quick stop to give in my number and a drink of coke. The marshals were making sure that runners had enough water as the next CP with water was over 10 miles away. I hadn’t drunk much so I was fine.

  • 5.89 miles in 1:02:36 (pace 10:38) HR – 139

CP1 Cheviot Base to CP 2 Rescue Hut – 5.72 miles (Overall 11.61 miles)

I was in and out pretty quickly and set off for the climb up the Cheviot. When I was chatting to Andy before the race he reckoned it would take an hour or so to climb the 2 miles from the CP to the top so I settled into a steady rhythm.

There were a few runners around me as we made out way up the hill. We had been in good visibility so far but as we climbed we reached the cloud line and quite soon we couldn’t see too far at all.


Following the fence up the Cheviot (Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy)

I was feeling good on the climb but still had to reign myself in a few times when my heart rate went up to 145.  I was still feeling very comfortable in my shorts but I was glad I was wearing my gloves and buff. There wasn’t too much wind so as long as I was moving I was warm enough.

It was a steady climb with a couple of opportunities to run a bit. We reached a point where it levelled out a little and their was a marshal checking everyone was okay. He said climb over the large style and follow the path of slabs to the top.


Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy

As you can see from the photo the course was well marked with these black arrows and also small yellow flags. Garry had worked hard over the past couple of days marking the course.

I was just behind another runner and we made our way to the top. I was assuming there would be at least one more climb to reach the top and as we ran along for a while I was wondering when it would be.

Some of the slabs were icy but the majority were fine so it was easy to pick up the pace a bit and run a bit faster. Suddenly the cairn at the top appeared. I was really surprised but grateful that I had reached the top.


Cairn at the top of the Cheviot (Photo thanks to Jo Barrett)

I did stop for a photo hence why I’ve borrowed Luke and Jo’s photos (with permission!). The stone slabs carried on for another mile or so. The guy in front was a bit quicker initially but I did catch him before the next checkpoint.

A few of the runners who I had overtaken on the way up now caught me on the way down.


Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy


Follow the yellow flags (Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy)

There were sections of boggier ground in-between the slabs but as the ground was icy it was still quite dry underfoot.

Garry and another couple of marshals were waiting for the runners to come down off the top so I gave Garry a high five and told him who much I was enjoying the route so far.


Photo of the stone slabs we ran down (Photo thanks to the official photographer)


End of stone slabs were Garry was waiting (Photo thanks to the official photographer)

I knew there was another couple of miles to CP2. My friend Phil Owen said that he was marshalling at that point so I was looking forward to seeing him.

I ran as hard as I could on the way down but I was passed by a couple of people. I also slipped a couple of times on the icy grass but nothing serious. I know I wasn’t the only one as I could hear comments behind me as others slipped as well!

The ground was a lot boggier here and I could see where runners ahead had gone though the ice into the wet bog so I made sure I avoided those bits. I was expecting a lot worse and was quite happy to get through that section with relatively dry feet.

I was with a group of 4-5 runners as we approached CP2. I could see Phil had his camera out so gave him a smile.


Approaching CP2 (Photo thanks to Phil Owen)

There was also an official photographer who captured me just as I was about to give Phil a high five …


As you can see from the photo we were still in the mist but there wasn’t much wind and so ideal running conditions for this time of year.

CP1 to CP2

  • leg 5.72 miles in 1:21:34 (pace 14:16) HR – 138
  • Overall 11.61 miles in 2:24:10 (pace 12:25)

CP 2 Rescue Hut to CP 3 Self Clip – 5.42 miles (Overall 17.03 miles)

Again I didn’t hang around and followed the path heading down. I knew that the biggest climb of the day was behind us but there would be plenty of smaller climbs to come.


The path followed the fence line as we descended. (Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy)

I was now on my own. The runners who were with me at the Rescue Hut weren’t with me. I don’t like to look around so I’m not sure how far they were behind but I certainly couldn’t hear them.

I could see some runners ahead so I wondered whether I could catch them. After a few minutes I decided to look at my time for 14 miles which would be half way. I hoped that I might be able to run the second half faster as there is a bigger net descent.

There was a stile just after my watch clicked over to 14 miles so I took that as my half way point. My watch read 2:58 so I revised my goals to bronze sub 6hrs, silver sub 5:45 and gold sub 5:30. It gave me something to aim for!!


Views on the way down (Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy)

Once we descended and got out of the cloud the views were great. Plus it was starting to warm up and I was thankful I had decided to wear shorts as I was feeling quite warm.

The two runners I had seen in the distance were still ahead but I didn’t seem to be making any time on them but at least they weren’t getting further away.

We were now running on the border of England and Scotland along the Pennine Way towards Kirk Yethom which is the finish of the Pennine Way.

I reached the self clip which is in Scotland just over the border. I assumed I would have to take off my rucksack to clip my number but there was a lady there cheering on the runners and she very kindly add it for me.

The sun was shining quite brightly now and it was definitely the warmest it had been all day.

CP2 to CP3

  • leg 5.42 miles in 1:08:29 (pace 12:38) HR – 140
  • Overall 17.03 miles in 3:32:39 (pace 12:29)

CP 3 Self Clip to CP 4 Hethpool – 1.82 miles (Overall 18.85 miles)

I knew it was less than 2 miles to the next check point so I pushed on thinking about timings for the last two legs. I reckoned that once I reached CP4 I would have around 10miles to go.

I should reach it around 4hrs which would give me 2 hrs to go under 6hrs so my bronze looked safe! It would depend on how strongly I could run over the final 10 miles to see how close I could get to my gold of sub 5:30.


Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy

The thing I found interesting was if this was an ultra I would have a long way to go and wouldn’t even be thinking about the end but as I only had less than 10 miles to go I was starting to think about the end and so my mind started to wind down somehow.

I had to consciously stay in the moment and just concentrate on running as hard as I could. It did help that I could see the two runners ahead and I tried to work on catching them!

I had been thinking about Katrina and wondering how she was getting on in the half marathon. I really hoped that she was enjoying the run.

I think it was along this section that the route went through a forest and it was a little tricky finding the way. Garry had marked it well but I missed one of the flags and was slightly off line through the woods but soon saw the yellow flags again and I was back on track.

I finished off my tailwind as I approached the checkpoint and emptied the Tailwind powder into my water bottle so I could quickly fill it up.  I had only drank 700ml in the first 4hrs of the race but when it is cold I don’t tend to drink as much. I had also eaten one tube of Shot blok and hoped that was enough.

CP3 to CP4

  • leg 1.82 miles in 23:58 (pace 13:10) HR – 133
  • Overall 18.85 miles in 3:56:37 (pace 12:33)

CP 4 Hethpool to CP 5 Yeavering Bell – 3.31 miles (Overall 22.16 miles)

At the checkpoint the marshal very efficiently filled my water bottle while I had a drink of coke and took a couple of small fudge bars and some jelly babies. One of the marshals told me I was in 31st place which was encouraging and again gave me an added incentive to catch the two guys ahead to get into the top 30!!

The first mile or so from the checkpoint was along the road and I was happy that I was running quite strongly. I thought if I could average around 10min miles I had a chance to get under 5:30.

I could see a runner ahead and I caught up with him after turning right and heading up the road. He said he was struggling a bit with cramp. I assumed that he wasn’t one of the two runners ahead but it did mean I was in 30th place!


Photo thanks to Luke Kennedy

Once over the bridge the track turned left and headed up the hill. Once onto the open fell I could see the two runners still ahead but they didn’t seem to be any closer!

I felt I kept up a good pace and before too long I was on the road and running down to the final checkpoint.

CP4 to CP5

  • leg 3.31 miles in 35:29 (pace 10:43) HR – 140
  • Overall 18.85 miles in 4:32:06 (pace 12:17)

CP 5 Weavering Bell to Wooler YHA – 5.85 miles (Overall 28.01 miles)

The checkpoint was manned by a couple of ladies and a girl. I gave a high five to the girl as she was cheering me on! I stopped very briefly taking some jelly babies but keen to keep going for the final push to the finish.

There was a runner just ahead so he became my next target. I knew there was a hill out of the checkpoint as when I was showing the half marathon route to Katrina we could see that there was a steep descent for her and then back up the same way.


Following the St Cuthbert’s way signs (Photo thanks to Jo Barrett)

The marathon runners were now on the same route as the half marathon. Again I wondered how Katrina found this hill. It was pretty steep and I thought it would have been tough for the half marathon runners having to go all the way down to the checkpoint and then all the way back up again!

I knew I had less than an hour to run the final 6 miles. I thought it might be possible if it was mainly downhill. But the first mile took me 17 mins getting up the hill so I would then have the run the final 5 miles in 43 mins which is just over 8 mins per mile which would be a tall order.

I wanted to get under 5:45 though so once over the top I pushed as hard as I could. I passed another runner at some point so I was in 28th place. The two guys were still ahead and I didn’t think I would be able to catch them now but you never know!

At one turn I glanced back as I shut a gate and saw that I was being chased and sure enough a few minutes later a runner caught me. He was the first runner who had gone past me since the rescue hut at CP2.

I congratulated him on pacing it really well. He explained that he had had a saw ankle early on but was feeling stronger now. I tried to hang on to him for as long as I could but he was just that bit faster.

When I went past the final marshal on the course he thanked me for helping him on a previous race. I think it was either the Lakeland 100 when I ran through part of the night cheering runners on or at the recent Lakes in a Day. Whichever it was I thanked him!

Once we reached the top of the stem and then onto the road I knew I had less than 1.5 miles to go. I could see that the runner who had gone past me had now caught the 2 guys who had been ahead for ages.

They were getting closer and I wondered whether I might still catch them. There were  a few people out walking who cheered me on as I ran past their houses.

I came to the start and knew we would turn right to run along the path to the finish at the YHA. I pushed as hard as I could but the two runners were just too far away!

I was more than happy with my run and I was going to be a few minutes over my sub 5:30 target but closer to 5:30 than 5:45!!

I glanced to my left and saw the YHA and heard people clapping in the runner ahead of me. I ran down the slope, turned sharply left and ran over the car park into the finish at the YHA.

Garry greeted me and my number was scanned to give me my finishing time – 5:35:26 for 29th place. I discovered later I was 2nd MV50 15mins behind the MV50 winner!

Garry told me that Katrina had finished 1st FV50 in 2:30:45. Katrina was sitting with Lucy, Richard and Keziah. Lucy finished 1st female in just under 5hrs and Richard was 2nd male in 4:28:55 so they both had good days.

I picked up my t-shirt and medal before heading off for a shower.


It was great to be able to have a hot shower before enjoying a lovely cup of soup and some tea. While I was eating Katrina received her prize from Tim …


We both really enjoyed our races and would thoroughly recommend the race to everyone. It’s a very challenging route with lots of climb and a variety of terrain to enjoy.

Tim and Garry have created a great race with a team of excellent marshals and volunteers. Our thanks go to them for all their hard work over the weekend.

Marathon & Half Marathon Results



Heart rate graph.  Ignore the spike at the start! I was pleased with how I was able to keep my HR at an even rate right to the end.

I didn’t do a video diary of the run this time but Craig Kilday did. He has produced an excellent video which gives you a real feel of the route. It lasts just under 5mins …

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Wooler Trail Marathon update

Katrina and I had a great weekend at the Trail Outlaw’s Wooler Trail Marathon. Full report to come.

I finished 29th (out of about 140 starters) in 5:35:27. I was 2nd MV50! Katrina loved the half marathon and finished 28th (out of 90 starters) in 2:30:45 and was 1st FV50 so was presented with a trophy!

Thanks to Tim Bateson and Garry Scott for putting on such a great race.



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Preparing for the Wooler Trail Marathon

This week I have had a couple of easy runs. On Monday I ran with Katrina after work. Then today I ran at lunchtime around Pollok Park. I used my off road route and it was quite wet underfoot. At least it cleaned my shoes!

The other aspect of preparing for races is sorting out my kit for the race, looking over the route and thinking about what time I’m aiming for. So here are my thoughts …


The race organisers have wisely set a mandatory kit list which is ….

  1. Whistle
  2. Head torch(with spare batteries)
  3. Survival bag (Not blanket. Examples bags here.)
  4. Hat and gloves
  5. Route map (OS Explorer OL16)
  6. Waterproof jacket
  7. Waterproof trousers
  8. Full length leggings
  9. Long sleeve thermal top
  10. Minimum of 500ml water
  11. Emergency food/sport bar
  12. Mobile phone number of the race directors
  13. Fully charged phone

Initially I thought it was a lot of kit for a trail marathon but when you consider it is held at the end of November and what the conditions could be like then it makes perfect sense. Also it is the same for everyone.

The race organisers sent out an email today which included the following …

The weather for the weekend is looking as though it is going to be very cold. Especially for those doing the full marathon route going over Cheviot Summit. The current forecast is showing temperatures of -1oC, with a windchill of about -10oC. It is also forecasting light snow with good visibility. So it will look stunning up there!

If you used a bladder system for water there is a good chance your pipe will freeze solid, so water bottles would be better. You must have all mandatory kit, in terms of gloves and a hat. If you suffer from cold hands, make sure you have some proper gloves ie skiing type gloves gloves would be preferable to thin lightweight running gloves. Make sure your thermal is adequate for the weather i.e Merino wool or similar, a thin base layer is not thermal.

It is our full intention to allow the marathon runners to to the route as planned, but please be aware if the weather changes from the current forecast for heavier snow and gale force winds (a blizzard/white out). Then we may have to change to our planned contingency route. Safety of runners is our primary concern, with your full enjoyment coming a very close second.

It is good to know they are concerned about the safely of the runners and want to make sure we all arrive back in one piece!

I’ll be wearing my favourite running gear which is tried and tested. For footwear I’ll be wearing my Skechers Go Run Trail 2 which are really comfy and have a good balance of support and grip. If it is very muddy I will struggle a bit but no shoe is perfecter every type of terrain.


There is a great flyover of the route on the race website which I’ve watched a few times and will watch again a few more times before leaving on Saturday. Here it is …

I have a copy of the OS Explorer OL16 map which I’m going to highlight the route on. I also have the gps track on my Suunto watch and UK map on my iPhone so all the bases are covered. Plus the route is marked!


I like to have a time to aim for and normally have my gold, silver and bronze but I really don’t know with this one. It is called a Trail Marathon but is actually 28.2 miles so a couple of miles more than a marathon but not really far enough to be called an ultra. I’m certainly not planning to add it to my ultra list of races run.

If I could average 9 mins per mile then I would finish in 4hrs 15mins which I’m going to use as a guide but I really don’t know whether that is optimistic or pessimistic??


The first 8 miles are mainly uphill with the highest point at the top of the Cheviot at 2,600ft.


So my plan is to run well within myself until I’m over the top of the Cheriot hill and then see how I feel from there on.

I’m really looking forward to the race and glad Andy Cole encouraged me to enter!

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Guess My Time Summary

When I ran my first ultra in 2007 I thought it would be fun to do a little competition on my blog for friends and family to guess how long they thought it would take me to run the 53 mile Highland Fling.

I have now run 39 ultras and for each one I have done a ‘Guess My Time’ competition. Here is a full list of all the competition winners – my own Hall of Fame!! …..


Over the past few years http://www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com have kindly sponsored the competition giving away some excellent prizes for those who guess the closest.

The latest winner Gary McLinton sent me a photo of his prizes …


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