Sunday, 12 November 2017


When I ran my first GO33 I didn't have it on my mind that I would want to run this race every year but as the race has grown it is hard not to fill in the details on Entry Central and get my name on the start list and now I have come so far I cannot stop now. So 7th edition 7th start.

For those unfamiliar with the GO33 it initially started in Strathyre in the forest taking you up to Killin looping the forest and back down to Strathre with the bouncy bridge at the finish line but after severe flooding a few years ago the start had to be hastily changed and the new format developed. In my view the original format led to faster finish times but I could be wrong and maybe age is now catching up on my wee legs leading to me slowing down.

The race has grown from about 150 starters to almost 500 now, a true testament to how highly rated and appreciated this race is to newbie ultra runners and seasoned campaigners alike. For a debut ultra this race is ideal with a real mix of terrains and the distance being *only* 33 miles a great baptism to get the feel of running further.

My race this year was not planned to be fast, just time on feet a evenly paced as it is in the middle of 12 hour race training but it turned out a little painful with a bizarre episode of cramp in my calf muscles which I can only put down to a lack of hydration in the first half, something I am quite guilty of with only viewing the race as a marathon with a 10k stitched on at the end. Still at least I understand what went wrong and will pay attention to it and sort it next time out.

Road section to Strathyre

Another great BAM event and it was great to catch up with all the lovely marshalls and stewards. I reckon with the stops for hugs and greetings 5 minutes could be chopped of the running time but where would the fun be if that got missed out.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


So the countdown to my 50th birthday has begun and I have put in place a few targets for the next 364 days, one of which is basically to stay fit, uninjured and able to hit a new age group able to compete at the higher end of the competition. This will involve a bit of sensible racing and training so I am working on a plan which involves less to no ultras and a few more marathons.

I recently tallied up how many marathons I have ran and this coupled with ultras gave me a current tally of 72 so looked in to joining the 100 Marathon Club. If you have completed more than 50 (ultras count as 1 marathon only irrespective of distance) you gain Associate membership as you work towards the 100. So I submitted my excel spreadsheet of races and passed the vetting process and am now going to concentrate on building to the 100 and earning the vest.


Marathon and Ultra History

Thankfully my running career doesn't date back too long and Power of 10 is a great resource for storing runners details so I think I have remembered all the races I have done but there could be the odd one missing, as can be seen from the bottom of the list with ones I forgot.

I have two races left to go this year, Glen Ogle 33 on Saturday 4th November which will be my seventh there and keeping me ever present at that event and the to finish off the year I will be pushing my body to a bit of an extreme as I have entered the MR25 12 Hour Ultra in Singapore on the 30th December. Running for 12 hours isn't the hard bit, keeping hydrated and not overheating will be the tricky bit for me but hopefully I can go and give it a good run.


The first 2 days of the countdown involved two races, the first the National Cross Country Relays at Cumbernauld on Saturday 28th October and then the Antonine Trail Race half marathon on Sunday.
I wont bore you with all the details but it is a true multi terrain workout and a great end of season gathering, superbly organised and marshalled. The route has everything to test you from over 1200ft of climbing to tarmac and muddy bog.

Full race report here from James Stewart RD : Antonine Trail Race report/results

Friday, 18 August 2017



Being only a few weeks after the West Highland Way Race and me making a balls up of getting the day off work, I passed the handling of the JGS relay team for the Clyde Stride to my brother Chris with me hurrying from work to run the last leg. We weren't expecting to podium this year but would not be far away as long as nobody got lost. Des McKeown took the first leg as he hadn't reccied leg two and didn't want to incur the wrath of the team by getting lost in some Cambuslang field or Blantyre housing estate passing on to Chris who was familiar with the route. Chris had had his usual 10 days pre run training in Ibiza so was not at his 'race weight' should we say but sometimes a slow leg is better than a tour of everywhere but the correct route. Chris passed on to Colin McNair at Strathclyde Park and I am not sure what position we were in at this point but Colin ran a belter of a leg to hand over to me in 5th place at Mauldslie Bridge after my mad dash from work. We were now in 5th place with an East Kilbride and Maryhill Harriers team closest to catch in 4th and 3rd.

Mauldslie handover
I knew I had my work cut out as both teams ahead had a good lead but I caught the 4th place EK within about 2 miles so now one to go for a podium. I wasn't holding out much hope but as I neared Kirkfieldbank a blue top appeared around a bend and I put the boot down and didn't give him any chance of latching on to me as I passed him. The finish for the Stride is in a stunning location and the descent down in to the village is a great view, just a pity you know you have the joy of another mile after you spy the finish line. I think I surprised the lads as I came through the gate and descended the stairs to the finish line to receive my hug from Lee. 3rd place secured and I was burst.

Me with 3 Olympians!!!!

Trophy presented by RD Lee.

Next up was the Devil o The Highlands 42 mile race, the final race in the *unofficial* Triple Crown. Only 6 weeks previously I had vowed to never ever f*c**ng come back here I was set to run on part of the course again, albeit the MOTORWAY SECTION. I had only entered as a friend was meant to come over from the USA and my plan was to run with him but a couple of weeks before the race he messaged to say he was having to withdraw. As I had secured a ballot place and was somewhat fit (although not totally recovered from the WHW) I worked on the principal that I needed to run as it was downright rude not too as many others had been unlucky not to get a slot. So Linda and the wee dude decided to come with me and make good use of the hotel booking whilst I went for a run. I promised Andrew we would stop and talk to the deer at Kingshouse Hotel as he didn't believe me they just wandered about the car park.

Scaring off the deer
Due to an accident in Fort William we were delayed arriving on the Friday night and didn't get dinner till well after 9pm which I was a bit worried about with the early rise and 6am start, but it just meant I just needed less breakfast. Getting out of bed at 3am and forcing food in to your body is not an easy task but I consumed as much as I could and sauntered round for the bus to Tyndrum from the Fort William bus station. Registration done and a toilet visit complete I caught up with training partner Mark Ashby and had a blether about the race and tactics, the outcome of which was he was seriously hurting after the Clyde Stride and I should have stayed at home and put my feet up and recovered further. So the tactics were try and finish and at all costs don't get injured attempting to finish.

Mark wondering where his buff got too!!!! Photo by Monument Photos
I caught up with Robert Turner and Davie Gow on the start line and that was as close as I got to them all day, although Robert unfortunately pulled out at Kinlochleven I think. West Highland Way and Fling winner Rob Sinclair was also there and he just disappeared like he was running a 10k. The race was quite uneventful and mostly run on my own after pulling ahead of Norrie McNeill on the climb up on to Rannoch Moor. For some reason both my calfs started pinging away with cramp warnings on the climb over the Devils Staircase and refused to go away for the remainder of the race, totally bizarre as I was well hydrated although maybe just a sign that the legs are still in recovery mode.

Top of the Staircase : Photo by Fiona Rennie

The new race finish is certainly a bit tougher than the mile along the road but a great setting to finish on the park with the tented village set up. I crossed the line in 6:43:19 a bit slower than expected but a finish and no damage done. Mark came in 7:37:57  and just happy to finish. Surprisingly though at the prizegiving I had won 3rd in the Scottish Athletics Ultra Trail Championships and Mark was 1st Vet50 in the race.

Photo by Stuart McFarlane

Not much I could add all the great comments online, the organisation for this event is superb. John, Noanie and team put on a wonderful event, many thanks to everyone from start to finish who help out at this race.

It is only a 10km race and it is the Vets, how difficult could it be!!! Well it hurt, it hurt a lot but it was at least a return to short and sharp. Michael was staying with me for a few days and persuaded myself and Kate that we would enjoy a wee run in Pollock Park.

Not much I can say but it was 3 loops with a couple of climbs each time and it hurt. 38mins 20secs of pain but it was a return to road racing and my first 10k in 3 years so it is a start. Michael was about a minute behind but he had won 1st old guy at the Haddington Half the day before so can be excused an easy run. Kate cruised around and cursed us both at the end for persuading her to run but we both think she really really enjoyed it.

Loch Ness Marathon training now, back to solid ground for a while.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


After 7 months of training the WHW weekend had arrived, 96 miles with 15000ft of elevation to negotiate to collect goblet number three. Race prep had been structured well and my race crew of Mark and Duncan from the last two attempts were alongside me again to assist me along the way. We had also been given a big boys toy car for the weekend for the lads to have fun with courtesy of Evans Halshaw.

Having struggled a little in the last few months with a sore left foot and an on and off hip niggle I knew my ultimate goal of an 18 hour finish was going to be a big ask but I wrote the plan for that with other contingencies if I was off the pace. On Thursday I had a tight right hamstring but I just put it down to resting with only a few miles ran in the week leading up to the start but come 1am on Saturday morning standing on the start line I was still massaging and stretching it to get it loosened. I said to Mark it would probably ease of after a few miles but it turned out it was 41 miles at Beinglas till it eased off and then I suspect the damage for compensating had been done and now the plan had been ripped up and just finishing was the new target.

At Auchtertyre Farm I was 1.5kg under my starting weight and realised I hadn't been drinking enough so had a mullerrice and a bottle of water here and asked the lads to meet me again at Tyndrum for another snack and juice.

Photo by Chuck Gordon at Tyndrum
The blue skies at Tyndrum were to be the last I would observe for the rest of the race as the weather decided to take a turn for the worse. As I approached the last climb on Rannoch Moor a topless *male* relay runner came past me asking how far to Glencoe and I replied it was about 2 miles from where we were, 1 mile to the top of the climb and 1 mile downhill. I thought to myself he must have been feeling the heat and in all fairness it was actually great running weather but just as I got to the top of the climb a rather ominous breeze hit me and then I got drenched with hailstones and rain. This had an amazing effect on me as the cold took an instant hold and I felt my body start to slow right down. By the time I got to the checkpoint I was shivering and honestly didn't know where I was.

It is at this point a good crew are worth their weight in gold and Mark and Duncan got me straight in the motor, gear changed and thoroughly heated up. Mark even disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a half litre of milky hot coffee which went down a treat. As I set off again the first thoughts of a DNF set in. The lads stopped at Kingshouse to double check I was fine but I was shivering so they made me sit in the motor again till this wore off. Although I lost about 40 minutes here it was the best thing to do and after exiting Kingshouse I had a great shift over the Devils Staircase and down in to Kinlochleven and the final checkpoint. Final weigh in and I was good to go, although had to change pack here as it was now mandatory full waterproof kit.

The climb up on to Lairig Moor was as quick as I have ever done but the joy of that was to be short lived as once up there it was absolutely howling. Head first into a the wind and driving rain there was nothing for it head down and move. There was hardly a part for the next 6 miles where you were not going through water so much so my toes began to feel freezing. At this point when every bit of me was soaked and even my sealskin waterproof gloves were squelching my mind began to wander and a funny thought came to me which I just couldn't stop thinking about * *what good will that foil blanket do me now** I just laughed out loud, f**k the blanket the only thing saving me now will be speed as I cannot afford to get any colder. I just legged it as fast as possible to get to Lundavra, meet the crew and change gear. I didn't pause my watch here as I was just letting it go from start to finish but I am going to try and calculate my final split without the stop in the vehicle again as I did cover the final section quickly when actually moving.

Lundavra to the finish was rather uneventful, although I was pleased they have altered the descent to the small wooden bridge in the forest section as I have slipped down that a few times. My last 3 miles were the fastest of the day so still had something left in the old legs. Finish time at the Leisure Centre was 21hrs 10minutes, slower than expected but a finish nonetheless.

That one was for you DAD.

WHW RACE - Strava details

That is 3 starts and 3 finishes so think I will let it rest at that for a while and try and get some speed back in my legs.

Many thanks to to Mark and Duncan for sterling support throughout, without them I would have been out at Glencoe. To James Stewart and Rob Soutar, cheers guys your support has been immense.

To Ian/Sean/Adrian/John and the cast of hundreds of marshalls on the WHW crew thank your for putting on another great race.

To my long suffering wife and son thanks for putting up with my falling asleep at 6pm on a Sunday evening after getting up at 4:30am on my Sunday days off to get my long training runs in, you will be rewarded with a holiday which may or may not involve a race!!!!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


So six months of all out training and the taper has begun towards next weekends 2017 'A' Race, the West Highland Way Race. It has been a quick 6 months and I cannot say I have enjoyed it all, in fact it just shows how precious life is and how we should all get out there and live for the moment as life is such a cruel thing at time.

In my last blog I reported how a great friend and long time running mentor had died suddenly and how I was wearing my old club vest in his memory for the rest of the year. Well it turned out I was going to get hit with another shock when on the 27th March my dad died suddenly. To say this was a shock would be an understatement as there had been no indication of any problems and he was actually active till the end, so much so that it was on a group ride with friends out on his road bike he had a heart attack which took him instantly. He was half way up the Crow Road climbing the Campsie Fells at the time and the only positive thought I could put on it at the time was at least he was doing something he enjoyed and he suffered no pain.

It is times like that when friends rally round and the support we all received was tremendous and I would like to say a big thanks everyone who contacted me with kind wishes and thoughts. On the Sunday after my dads death we had arranged a group run and Alex Potter mentioned a song that had touched him in similar circumstances and when I got home he had sent it to me on itunes so I thought I would share it with you all as if I am crying you all may as well join in.

Training continued on and my appetite for running slowly filtered back and with the support of Michael, Rob, Alex , Mark and James I now think I am as fit as I should be for the race so hopefully I can do myself justice with a great WHW race and I suppose I don't need to say it but 'this one is for you dad'.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Time is now closing in on the West Highland Way Race start with 13 weeks to go till the big day. December and January were great training months with great weather apart from the odd wet day. My first block of training through Christmas and New Year led me nicely up to the Dubai Marathon on Friday 20th January.

Being a loving family guy I had managed to squeeze the marathon in on the way to Phuket for my summer 2016 holiday, I know it was late but better late than never. So a few days relaxing at the Atlantis Palm hotel with a few easy runs to acclimatize and catch up with family. One thing I had to compromise on when booking was Linda said her and Andrew didn't care how far away from the marathon start the hotel was that was where they were staying so I had to get up a little earlier than I had really wanted to get to the start at 6.30am.

You could not get a more relaxed or easy marathon to get to the start line and I kid you not the taxi dropped me 200 metres from the start line, in fact it was a longer walk to the toilets. Michael had messaged me that he was approaching from the other side of the start line and quickly we had met up and headed for the starting pens. Unlike Berlin it was apparent we were in for a bit of a messy start as a few not so svelte runners pushed their way as near the start tape as they could. Not to worry I wasn't chasing the world record today but this did cause a problem for a certain elite runner who I had to vault over a few seconds after the start.

The race itself was rather uneventful although a bit warmer than last year at the start and really hot on the return section once the sun broke through the early morning haze. It was remarkable the amount of elite runners walking back to the finish having totally blown up enroute, gives you a good feeling to know you have paced it sensibly when you see the mess of some of them. Janet had kindly offered to hand us our drinks bottles as her and Michaels hotel was at the 13/22 mile point in the race and I was certainly in need of my tailwind on the return stretch.

We both had good runs with Michael slowing slightly more than me in the final 2 miles fighting cramp, I crossed the line in 2:57:31 and Michael 2:57:44. At the finish we were approached by a gentleman complimenting us on our running vests which he had spied, turns out he is the boss of Frontrunner, the company I use for all my t-shirts hats and buffs. With the time only now being 9:35 am I reckoned I could still make breakfast at the hotel and with the taxi rank being exactly where I had been dropped earlier I was back in the hotel 20 minutes later and Linda and Andrew were at a table waiting for me. I managed to have a recovery scoff and then conked out on a sunlounger.

After a relaxing week in Phuket with a few recovery runs thrown in it was back home with the next race up the Kirkintilloch 12.5km, an annual test of how good the winter training has gone. As this was a long run day I tied this in with a 10km warm up over to the start and a 10km warm down after the race. Training must be going ok as I was 20 seconds faster than last year and felt comfortable all the way even in rather blustery conditions. This all lead on nicely to 4 weeks of mile building for the Loch Katrine Marathon on Sunday 19th March.

The build up to Loch Katrine had been good but an ongoing niggle in my shoulder seemed to move downwards to my glute and hamstring but I have been managing it with stretching and rolling. Training partner Rob had also been beset with injury and was on the comeback from broken ribs so we had had a good few weekend runs looking forward to this race. Raceday itself and the weather was not looking too promising but by the time we got to LK it looked like we were going to have pleasant conditions, a little wind but nothing to seriously hamper the run.

I don't know what was going on
I will not go in to too much detail but this is a race which soon finds out if you are below par or not and after about 5 miles with my right leg constantly pinging away I sussed I couldn't maintain the pace required to stick with Rob and the other lad he was chasing and had to ease off and let them surge ahead in the hope I would reel them in later. Sadly this wasn't the case and I gradually lost time on them on the return leg after the turn at Stronachlachar. Rob went on to win in 2:58 and I came in 4th in 3:07 a full 13 minutes down on my winning time 2 years ago. Now is the time to get the leg seen to with bigger targets ahead, so physio this week to get it sorted.

Many thanks and lots of praise again to Audrey McIntosh and the full support crew at this running festival, such a great event from the 10k, half and full marathon. If you haven't done any of the races before stick it in your diary for next year, you will not be disappointed : LOCH KATRINE MARATHON

Sadly on the Thursday before the race I attended the funeral of great friend and running club colleague Kenny McVey who had died suddenly after a short illness. This had come as a great shock to all of us at Victoria Park City of Glasgow and I had spoken to him a couple of days before his death regarding upcoming races. Kenny was the first person I had contact with when I joined the club and I will always remember with fondness his tales when out running on our Sunday morning runs from the Allander Sports Centre. One thing he always wanted was the club to retain the original hooped vest the club had before the Victoria Park AC merger with City of Glasgow a few years back so in memory of him I decided I will be wearing my hooped jersey for the rest of the season and Sunday was the first outing.

Me and Kenny

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


You know you have lapsed a bit in the blogging stakes when you come to do a review of the year and the last report was 5 months ago so I will try and be brief and catch up in as few paragraphs as possible. I like to do report on races I have done to give as much information to others who are thinking about entering the same races a little insight on what to expect.

After the John Lucas 50 Mile next up was the Berlin Marathon where I was again meeting Michael for another jolly around a city. We had both targeted this as a possible sub 2:50 and for me this was the years 'A' race having taken a step away from the ultras for the year. Unfortunately we had both been having back problems and it was apparent as the race fastly approached that it was just going to be a set off and see how it goes day. My problems got so bad I finally gave in and sought help from Matt Williamson, a fellow ultra runner and highly recommended physio. The diagnosis was actually not too bad but the fix was not going to happen in time for Berlin, in fact the fix is still ongoing but gradually I am feeling like a runner again and many thanks to Matt for getting to the root of a 3 year problem.

So the brief report of Berlin is it is a marvellous race in a beautifully friendly city with top notch organisation. From arriving at the airport to negotiating the train system it was a great weekend, and we even managed to get Andrew entered in the kids race on the Saturday which he loved.

Andrew in his Barcelona running gear catching the German tri lad finishing 4th
Myself and Michael had a couple of early morning runs before race day taking the opportunity to send a few selfies and the rest of the days were spent sightseeing, eating and drinking.

Linda and Andrew had a great time chasing German pokeman whilst touring Checkpoint Charlie and then onto Berlin Zoo whilst I discovered a love for alcohol free lager.

The race itself went fine and due to some great German efficiency the starting pens had the correct people in the allocated expected finish times and at no time from the start did you feel as if you were being held back by slower runners. Those who run London for example will understand what I mean here and it does make for an more even paced relaxed start. The course itself is almost flat and we ran together till just after half way when I pulled ahead of Michael. Now at no point did I see him pass me nor does he have any recollection of passing me from then but at 40km where we had planned to see Linda , Janet and Andrew where they would have juice for us if required Janet took a photo and remarkably we were almost next to each other without knowing it.

He's beside you!!!

I grabbed a bottle of coke from Linda here and downed it and glanced to my right with Michael asking 'where did you come from?'

I asked if he was feeling good and fancied pushing it and as usual was told to go do one so off I plodded with little under 2km to go. Similar to London when Big Ben fails to get much bigger as you approach it the Brandenburg Gate seemed a long way off as you approach it but once under it a couple of hundred metre with throngs of cheering support you cruise down to the finish line. I finished in 2:57:23 and Michael 2:57:40 , both satisfied considering how our training had been going.

Slightly burst we headed for post race nutrition and hydration.

The general consensus is Berlin is a great marathon and a smashing city for a family break too, only downside would be the race entry fee which I believe is now about £120.

So next up was the Loch Rannoch Marathon which I had only entered as I was driving Catherine, and Holly up for the full marathon and Collette for the half marathon and thought why not enter the full bhuna it has been weeks since I raced. The weather was a bit blowy but not unexpected for Perthshire in October.

The girls were all sporting their new team vests for the race, so easily seen enroute. The half marathon runners are meant to be bussed out to halfway before the full marathon starts but the buses were late arriving so the marathon started on time with the half runners still in Kinloch Rannoch. My legs felt fine till about 12 miles when I just started feeling sluggish and Berlin kicked in. Just before halfway 2 big coaches were blocking the road and we had to divert onto the verge to pass them as the disembarking half runners made their way to the start. This meant the return leg along the other side of the loch was going to be lonely as I had been expecting to be chasing down half marathon runners but as they hadn't started obviously no company to be had and the water stops unmanned. It got a bit blowy and wet on the return and I certainly felt myself slow down but held it together enough to finish in 3:00:06. All the ladies had great runs and were delighted with their finishing times and Holly completed her charity fundraising marathon.

Bus problems aside this would also make my list of recommended marathons.

That brought the marathon count for the year to six, quite a bit for a rest year but they have all been fun and times have all been consistent although no PBs broke.

Final race of the year is the Glen Ogle 33 , my 6th year of running it and remaining an ever present. I always find the new start tough on this with a lack of energy going uphill for the first 4 miles but normally get a second wind coming down. The weather gods were kind this year although a bit cold for my liking but nothing to worry about.

Sharing a few miles with Euan Craig

 Mostly the run went fine sharing a few downhill miles with Euan Craig (no relation) till he ran away from me and it was great to see all the cheery marshalls and share a hug or two. I felt a bit lethargic on the return up the cycle path and just eased off to a comfortable pace and kept it all together to finish without doing any damage. 10 minutes slower than previously but no complaints as it has been a great year of steady running.

Plans for 2017

With all that done and dusted my hope now was securing a place for the West Highland Way Race 2017 and luckily it was confirmed in the 1st week of December I had been successful. Having completed the race twice previously I have a good idea of the training involved as can be seen from the tab at the top for my previous training schedules but I am really taking this next attempt seriously and will embark on some more structured training than before. I have already started this and am on about week 7 of it with the first 'B' race of the year 2 weeks away at the Dubai Marathon on the 20th January. The second 'B' race will be the Highland Fling in April all structured towards the 'A' race for the year in June, Milngavie to Fort William 95 miles of fun. There are a few other races in between the main races but I will be treating them all as training and will build them in to the plan.

Sadly I have declined my London Marathon pacing slot for this year as it is the week before the Fling and my new found sensible head ruled the pacing out but hopefully I will return next year although if something does go awry I do have a good for age slot which can be deferred right up till race day.

So that is us all caught up and I will not leave it as long from on in, monthly updates will be appearing with hopefully the Dubai report at the end of January.

Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and look forward to catching up throughout the year.