Archive for July, 2008

Urie Loch Hill Race – Alex Drain

If it wasn’t for the Ayrshire hill running championships I wouldn’t have been there. Urie Loch on Arran that is. My hip still hurts morning noon and evening. :'(

The biggest problem with the race is it’s start time of 2pm. If you get the early boat, you’re kicking your heels for 3 hours in Brodick and if you get the 12:30 (like me), it’s a mad dash off the boat, onto the bus and hope they’ll delay the start.

I met up with Scott McKendrick who’s company has sponsored the championship. I happily informed him that I’d like a medium jersey for being the only person to complete every race in the series (providing I manage Straiton). ;D

The bus got us to Lamlash with about 30 seconds to spare so we sprinted to the changing rooms. Last year there were virtually no facilities and the post race shower was provided by a garden hose. This year, with the new school opened, we had the luxury of exceptional changing rooms and great showers.

No time for admiring the décor… on with the inovs and out to the start – we were by this time, 5 minutes late. Hey, why haven’t they started?? WHAT! – delayed 15 minutes….. The word is that next year the organisers will bring the time of the race forward so as to make catching ferries a bit more civilised.

Urie Loch has always been one of the messiest races on the calendar and the past few days of rain simply compounded that reputation. Even if you didn’t take a tumble (and lots did), you’d still be covered. A very steep soggy path stretching for about 2 miles through trees does the damage – but it’s great fun really.

Considering the injury I’m carrying, the race went as well as could be expected. It was sore going up and stiffened up going down to the extent I was 4 minutes slower than last year and 7 slower than the year before. The best time I’ve done was about 5 years ago when I managed 54 minutes. Today it was 69!!

Adam Anderson of Carnethy was the clear winner and will add his name to the cup for about the 4th time. 1st Ayrshire was Nicky Emsley who also looks like he could be the eventual winner of the championship. Tom McCulloch was 1st over 50 and I hate to think where I came in (I’ll post full results when they’re available).

Following the prize giving it was another mad dash to get back for the 4:40 boat. An enjoyable trip back with Finlay and John from Irvine finished off another good day.

Last in the championship is the Straiton (Craigengower) Hill Race on 23 August. This is one that everyone needs to put into their diaries. It’s one of the best days out you’ll get in Ayrshire. Not only that but it’ll be the only chance to run against oor Andy (and have a good laugh when he finishes up sliding down on his a*se). :D Don’t miss it.

BTW – nice pair of orange gloves adorned my fingers today. No falls so didn’t need them for once and they’ll live to be shredded on another!

Ironmen! – Susan Gray

Race Report below Ironman Austria 2008

I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me for this event and for all the good luck messages I received before and the congratulations I received after the event. I am not sure of the final total I have raised for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centers but it looks to be close to £700 – so once again a big THANK YOU to all!! 

Race Report

Weather in the build up to the race was lovely, loads of sunshine and hot – a bit too hot really and I was starting to worry about running in that heat on race day. However, come race day it was overcast and a bit cooler – never thought I would be glad to see clouds!! The swim was lovely in clear turquoise water which was warm enough that you didn’t really need a wetsuit although we used them for extra buoyancy. I managed to find quite a bit of clear water on the way round so didn’t run into too much trouble with clashes with other swimmers in the lake. However, by the time I got to the canal finish it was absolute carnage!! Each man/woman for themselves, people were still trying to race up the canal but, due to the numbers, this was impossible to do so they just kept bashing into you and trying to swim over you. I must admit I was getting somewhat annoyed by this and started kicking really hard to warn people to stay away from my feet. I felt I was on for a good time on the swim until the canal and then I slowed right down. Eventually I finished in just over 1hr 15mins, so only slightly outside my target time. I had heard good reports about how the canal part of the swim was good and a fast finish but I guess that is only the case if you are well up the field when you hit the canal.

Transition 1 was fine, no major traumas, managed to get out the wetsuit okay, pile on the sunblock (factor 50 – so no danger of any of the sun’s rays penetrating my skin!) and even managed to munch on a peanut butter and jam sandwich as I headed out to collect my bike. I really enjoyed the bike, all the hours of hard training through the winter had paid off and I was going really well. Few light showers kept temperatures down but also made the roads quite slippery. One guy went down in front of me when he was taking a corner and slid right across the road – probably left most of his skin on the road. Never saw him again! The support out on the course was fantastic, especially on the climbs and the DJ at the top of the big climb was fantastic, encouraging everyone to keep going. Scenery was gorgeous, maybe I shouldn’t have been looking around me so much but I wanted to enjoy the whole experience including the scenery. Just as well I did on the first lap of the bike as come the big climb again on the second lap the heavens opened and I was cycling in torrential rain, thunder and lightning. It was really scary and so dark! I couldn’t see a thing with my sunglasses on. I have never experience rain like that before (well apart from going over the Devil’s staircase in the WHW race in 2005!!!) and it lasted for ages. The roads were flooded and all but a few hardy supporters had disappeared from the bike route. However, I got round safely and was really chuffed with my bike time of 6hrs 11mins. My target had been 7hrs or 6hrs 30mins if I was having a good day so I exceeded my expectations on the bike. I believe I could go sub 6hrs as I was on target for that until the rain hit (oh and the last big climb didn’t help much!).

So back into transition, bike racked and change of clothes in order. Changed socks as they were drenched and applied loads of Vaseline to my feet to prevent blisters (a strategy which I found worked well in my days of ultra-running). Transition 2 took an age!! Perhaps I shouldn’t have laid out my mini-pringles and peanut butter and jam sandwich like I was there for a picnic – all I need was a flask of tea and I would have been right at home!!! Must point out that transition 2 time of 10mins 11secs also included a pee –stop in the portaloos. Hadn’t gone at all on the bike section so an extra long wee wee was had in T2 !!! Need to work on getting my transition times down a bit though.

Headed out on the run and was starting to think that possibly I could get in under 12 hours and not 13 which had been my initial target. By this stage the rain had gone off and the sun was out again. Started off well, kept thinking that I knew I could run comfortably off the bike for 3hrs so just get to 3hrs then see what I had left in my legs. However, it was not my day for running, by about 3km I needed a portaloo stop (and not just for a wee wee!!!). Managed to get running again then at about 8km felt my stomach going again so had to walk for a bit until I got to another portaloo. After that managed to run until about15km but then nausea set in and forced me down to a walk. Every time I started to run again I felt sick so had to slow down to a walk again. By now I could see my sub12hr dream disappearing and as time progressed I thought I might not even make my original target of sub 13hr!! The support out on the course was fantastic, the crowd was urging me to run again but only I knew how bad I was feeling. I remember hearing my name being shouted in unison and looked up to see 2 wee old granddads standing side by side, they were both giving my the thumbs up so I gave them a smile and a thumbs up and tried to run on . I started to play mind games: walk 1km run 1km; walk 1km run 2km; run to the next feed station; run 10mins walk 2mins – anything just to get me round. Support from fellow athlete’s also helped me to keep going. By the time I was approaching the 38km mark I decided I was not going to walk anymore and ticked off each kilometre marker to the end. My friend(wee Linda) handed me my St Andrews flag with about 1km to go and by now all the bad feelings on the run had gone and I had this stupid big grin on my face. I was ‘high-fiving’ people in the crowd and when I turned to run up the finish funnel I raised the flag about my head and ran down to the finish line. My first Ironman Triathlon completed in 12hrs 42mins and 37secs 

All photos can be viewed on select Ironman Austria from the scroll down list then type in my race number 2112.

I have already entered Ironman Switzerland for next year so watch this space …. 

Once again a massive thank you to all sponsors and supporters. It is not too late to sponsor me if you would like to, the site closes on the 13th September so still time to donate to Maggie’s. The site is

West Highland Way race report 2008 – Tim Downie