This was my first time running Kyles 10 Miles and my first time racing the 10 mile distance. I had read good things about the race and as I love running in Argyll, it was only a matter of time before I took this one on. As well as the 10 mile run, there is also the option to walk the route. Walkers set off at 11am and runners at 12noon.
The race had many clubs represented including Garscube Harriers, Dunoon Hill Runners, Victoria Park, and a bumper turnout from Bellahouston Harriers. Father and son duo Richard and Kieran Cooper were also there so it was sure to be a competitive race. Last minute logistics meant I wasn’t going to be joined by fellow Harrier, Chris G, therefore I was the sole runner for Maryhill.
After the recent run of terrible weather, the sun gods were shining for one day only and it made the drive from Glasgow absolutely stunning. From Loch Lomond to Arrochar, over the Rest and be Thankful and on to Tighnabruaich with spectacular views of the Kyles of Bute, Scotland was displaying all its glory.
I arrived in Tighnabruaich with some time to spare so I was able to squeeze in a one mile warm up, take in the surrounding scenery and get ready for “Scotland’s most scenic road race”. The route starts in Tighnabruaich and follows a circular route around the Ardlamont peninsula on Argyll’s Secret Coast. It takes in views of secluded beaches, as well as across the water to Arran, Bute and Kintyre, and finishes in Kames. The first five miles are described as hilly and challenging on the Kyles 10 Miles website, which is by no means an understatement, before the route starts to flatten out for the final five.
After a check of previous year’s results, I wondered if a top five finish might be possible and I gave myself a target of as close to 1:02:30 as possible. My backup was a top ten finish and under 1:05:00. I thought I would be able to set a decent pace on the hills for the first five and be able to recover once it flattened out for a strong finish. It didn’t quite go to plan (but wasn’t too shabby).
I got off to a good start and settled into 7th place between Lesley Pirie in 6th and Richard Cooper in 8th. Beyond that, the front runners were in their own league. The race was exactly as described – challenging and breathtakingly beautiful. The biggest challenge of the hills was how long they lasted before getting a little respite then having to start another climb.
I remember thinking at 3.5 miles how tough it was and when the 5 mile marker passed, I thought, “Great, that’s the end of the hills”, but then another wee cheeky hill popped its head out.
I held my position for much of the race, never too far away from Lesley, and Richard keeping on my tail. I was finding it hard though, I was short of breath and feeling dehydrated. There were plenty of water stops stationed around the course, which was great as I used every one, though I’m still useless at running and drinking – after the first couple of stops, I slowed right down to try and take more water on without feeling like I was drowning myself.
We started passing walkers not long after 5/6 miles who were great for giving encouragement, giving me some shouts of “Maryhill” when I passed. The anticipated recovery after the hills didn’t quite come to fruition – my legs were shot and I still felt short of breath and dehydrated. It was now a case of holding on. The gap between Lesley and I was growing and Richard was closing from behind. He passed me about 7/8miles and finished really strongly, overtaking Lesley for 6th place.
My pace continued to slide but I managed to pick it up a little for the last mile, which seemed to last forever, and I crossed the line in 1:04:37.
Overall, it was a great race. I gave myself an ambitious target on a tough course, and finished 47 seconds behind the ladies winner of the Stirling Marathon – not too shabby at all!
The race was won by Jack Arnold, Bellahouston Harriers, 56.05, followed by Crispin Walsh, Bellahouston Harriers, 58:42 and Kieran Cooper 59:54.
First female was Lesley Pirie, Victoria Park, 1:03:50, followed by Rebekah Russell, 1:15:35 and Lorna Coyle, Greenock Glenpark Harriers,1:15:56.
8th Kevin Campbell, 1:04:37.
Results available on Stuweb.
Like anyone who has ran this race, I thoroughly recommend it. It has great support from the locals, a fantastic atmosphere, is superbly marshalled and has all you want and need at the finish – you could even go for a wee paddle afterwards.
I recommend viewing the photo albums on Facebook to appreciate how stunning the race is. Photos by: