Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Bute 10K / Irvine Marymass 10K August 2011

Isle of Bute Highland Games 10K:
I never seem to do things the easy way during my travels to and from events. Saturday was no different. The original plan for Saturday had been to mount an expedition to Uig on Skye for the Quirraing 10K race. But common sense prevailed, due to the cost of just getting there, so I decided during the week before to scrap that and instead to head over to the Island of Bute for their Highland Games 10K race. This would have less logistical problems to overcome and also I wouldn't have to be up at ridiculous o'clock for a long drive. It would be a simple 30 minute drive from Paisley to Wemyss Bay to get the ferry across to Rothesay. Easy. Cheap. Stress free. But this is me we're talking about and I have a habit of turning easy and uncomplicated into difficult and complicated. I should have known better!
I arrived at Wemyss Bay at around 11.15am and had 45 minutes until the once an hour ferry was due to leave. I had planned to park at the Railway station and take advantage of the 'park and ride' system they operate. This ferry would get me into Rothesay for about 12.35pm so I could watch some of the games. The Annual Highland Games. Crowds. People. Cars. Lots of cars, which would need lots of parking spaces, something Wemyss Bay I now know doesn't have!! The guy at the station suggested a few places, including the local church who were letting people park for a wee fee, but that was full as was every other inch of curbside space. I even chanced my luck at some flats but was told in no uncertain terms it was for residents only. Nothing else for it then, I would have to take the car over. So I parked in the car queue on the slipway and as I had time nipped over to the station toilet. When I came back I asked the pier attendant do i pay him or onboard. 'You pay your £30 onboard'. What? After I picked myself up off the floor, £30?!! Holy shi.... It's a small car, not a Jumbo Jet I was driving. For a moment I was resigned to heading home. Then a train arrived and I hatched a cunning plan. Ah, the train, I hadn't thought of that. Maybe if I nip back to IBM, park the car and get a train asap I might still make the 12pm ferry. You are clever. But I'm unfamiliar with this area and couldn't find the IBM station, or the next one, or the next one. I ended up at Port Glasgow and knew there would be no way I would make it back for the 12pm ferry. So I parked the car and I hoped I could get a train in time for the 1pm sailing, which would get me to the Games with hopefully around half an hour to spare before the 10K was due to start. Bought my ticket and 2 minutes later got a train. Result. I had plenty of time to spare when I arrived back at the ferry port. Got my ferry ticket and joined the line waiting to board. A very long line. So long that I overheard a girl behind talking to someone saying that it looked so busy we might not get on the 1pm sailing. I had to get this sailing, there was no other way I would get to the start in time. But success, I was on. Standing on deck 5, the 'breeze' nearly took my heid off!
The ferry took about 30 minutes to make the 'undulating' crossing and around 1.35pmish I had arrived in Rothesay. Once I had passed through passport control and successfully dodged an 'internal' search I was walking up high street towards the sports ground. The walk soon turned into a run as time was getting tight. Made it to the registration tent with 30 minutes before the race was due to start. Registered and got my number, got changed and I was ready, just!! I had a wander around watching the pipe bands strut their stuff and watched some big men throwing some big 'ammers.
I then met Victoria O'Reilly again just before the start. Victoria lives on bute and has also recently moved up to running Ultra distance races, completing the 'Triple Crown' this year among other events in the SUMS. Respect. We spoke about today and running in general but all too soon we were called to muster at the start line.
 I decided to find a spot mid group and set myself a target of around 48 minutes. It was very warm and didn't know the route, so nothing ambitious today. However, right from the start I seemed to pass a lot of people, even before we had left the sports ground, but felt it was a comfortable pace for now. This was a very well organised and run event today and thankfully had plenty of water stations along the route. On approaching one of those, the runner in front accidentally bumped the table the full cups were set up on and knocked a lot over. But the wee boy and this mum (?) rushed around like a pair of madies (scottish phrase!!) to get new cups filled and set up ready by the time other runners reached it. So a big well done to you and to all the other course marshalls and volunteers on the route. It was an out and back route along the coastal road, so the leading runners were soon on their return leg, running back towards and passing those on their outward leg. Approaching the halfway point Thomas L passed me on his return leg, looking strong. After I turned I soon passed Thomas's wife Silke and then Victoria, both running well towards the turning point. For most of the return leg I managed to maintain my pace and was surprised when I realised a new PB could be on the cards. But on the final kilometre I began to fade and with the final push being uphill towards the sports ground I knew it was going to be close as I felt substantailly slower on this last haul. I entered the ground and crossed the line in 45.38 (TBC). Initially I thought I had missed my PB by just 4 seconds, but it turned out to be 13 seconds. Still annoying!!
I sat on the grass and watched the other runners finish. I then met Silke and Thomas in the finishing area. I've followed their running Blog for a while and it was good to finally meet them in person. We chatted for a few minutes and then Victoria finished. The four of us talked about how we had got on today and about the SUMS races. I'm sure Thomas said he had finished today in a new PB. Well done. Both Victoria and Silke also had good runs here today, so a good day all round. Soon I was changed and just made it for the 4pm ferry. Great day, great race and it's one I would like to do again inbetween SUMS races next year.

Irvine AC Marymass 10K:
I had also decided during the previous week to head down to Irvine on Sunday to run in the Marymass 10K, another race i've never run in before. When I got up in the morning I felt a bit tired from being baked in Bute the day before, but still wanted to run. I wasn't going to push it during this event and settled on being able to finish within an hour. Despite being cloudy it was very clamy in Irvine. I decided to start right at the back of the pack and stick to a comfortable pace. However, within the first two kilometres I realised I was running at around 4.35 min per kilometre pace and felt comfortable maintaining it. I began to pass people and decided to not be so cautious for the remaining distance. Despite the gentle breeze I felt I was overheating and with only one waterpoint at halfway I knew i would have to make sure I grabbed a full cup at the water station. At the turning point you encounter a horrible slow drag, into the wind, for around 1 kilometre. I managed to power up this but felt jaded at the top. The last kilometre was tough and people began to pass that I had passed in the early stages. Try as I might i just couldn't increase my pace. Once you pass the now defunct 'Big Idea' you can see the finish in the distance. I'm not a fan of these types of finishes and would rather not see the end until the last hundred metres. I finished in a surprising 47.58 (TBC), so i'm pleased with that.
I enjoyed the weekend of racing but won't be doing two in two days again!!!

Cruach Tairbeirt Walk:
 Yesterday I decided, with Jim B, to head up to Tarbet and have a wee walk up Cruach Tairbeirt (410m). A wee lump but with some steep climbing and fantastic views over both Loch Lomond and Loch Long, over to Ben Lomond and the Arrocher Alps. (4.5km in 2hrs 15min)
So in 4 days I have the 8th SUMS event of this year, the Speyside Way Ultra, 36 miles and I intend having a fairly inactive few days now. I think i've earned it. I'm unfamiliar with the route and terrain so i'll be cautious and would like to finish in around 7 hours. I'm planning on heading up on Friday night and camping at Hopeman for a more relaxed morning, rather than driving up on race morning. I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces on Saturday. Bring it on.


  1. Sounds like a cracking weekend, well done on your times ;-)

  2. I too took the car to Wemyss Bay. I just drove up the Hill for a minute and parked there. Plenty of space and a short walk back to the Ferry :-)

    It was really a great day out and good to finally meet you there in person!


  3. I enjoyed reading all about your weekend races. Well done, sorry you had such a difficult time getting here. The ferry fares are way too expensive and stop people from visiting Bute. As a local the ferry fares are a real financial disadvantage not including the limited time tables!! Anyway it is a beautiful island when the weather is nice!! Great photos of the Bute Ferry and Highland Games!!!