Rugged Run: Glen Loin Loop

Ben Vane – 2009 Andrew

I used to be member of a Rambler’s club called Glasgow Young Walkers (https://glasgowyoungwalkers.ning.com/)

It was a great way to meet Glasgow folk who were young and liked walking. I wish all clubs did exactly what they said. I’m still scarred by my experience at a Glasgow Naturist Swimming club. I thought they were swimmer who liked being out in nature… I was wrong. It should have been called Avert Thine Eyes When Swimming Behind A Naked Swimmer Doing The Breaststroke Swimming Club.

The Young Walkers club would organise walks most weekends. One trip was a loop of Glen Loin. It was a beautiful route and ever since then I wanted to do it again.

So, last weekend I headed out to run it. It was 10 years since that walk so I was really hoping I could remember the route.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3082079705

Starting Point: Loch Long Car Park (https://goo.gl/maps/tLTqyVNTqekoBhFN9)

Distance: 11.5 Miles

Elevation: 450m

Description:

Park at Loch Long car park. There is a car park charge so bring some loose change. Cross the road and enter the nondescript road beside the bridge.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right.

Eventually the path will open up and you’ll get great views of the Arrochar hills.

Keep on the path and you’ll eventually come to a crossroads. The road to the right takes you down to the A82 and the Inveruglas Power Station. The road to the left head up to Sloy Dam

Head left towards the dam but there’s a turnoff to the left before you reach it.

Keep on the road and you will eventually spot a very small dam blocking the river.

The turning across the river just before the dam. Keep on the path for a couple of miles until you see the sign heading back to the car park.

Its now an easy downhill/flat jog back to the car.

Head to The Perch Cafe for some food and some great home baking. Although don’t go in hungry. I’ve always had a long wait for the food!

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1478699-d12801501-Reviews-The_Perch_Cafe-Garelochhead_Helensburgh_Argyll_and_Bute_Scotland.html

Rating: 8/10

The first half of the route is excellent with beautiful views. The second half isn’t as interesting as it’s mostly in trees with no view.

Celtman Race Numbers (Iain)

The race numbers for Celtman have been revealed. I got 230 and Andrew has 231.

According to the Todd book of numerology numbers are the God of triathlon’s way of sending a message to athletes. Each number is associated with specific letters. The number 230 is associated with the letters N, E, W, N, R, and I. The number 231 is associated with R, E, L, S, O

I wonder what the letters reveal?

In a shock twist to this years event there is a third Todd.

There is a real danger that neither Andrew or I will be fastest Todd. Although slowest Todd is still likely to be one of us.

We are not even the most Todd person there. That honor goes to Todor Todorov.

Kirkintilloch 12.5K (Iain)

The Kirkintilloch 12.5k is an “undulating” course – 12 hills in 12 KM. I prefer to call it a course with 12 downhills in 12 KM’s. That sounds less fearsome. Similarly, Mount Everest sounds better when described as a long walk down.

This weekend saw Storm Dennis batter Scotland. If you ever get bored, Google your name and the word “storm” and find out if you were a force to be reckoned with or a bit of a damp squib.

Storm Iain has formed a few times but each time has been deemed “not a threat” or “unlikely to amount to anything.” Which is pretty similar to what it says about me in my school report card.

Andrew on the other hand became a Hurricane which killed many people. It was so destructive the name Andrew has been struck from the Storm naming guide!

The race is one of my favourite events. Today was probably the hardest conditions to run it. The wind from Storm Dennis was bitterly cold and very strong. Thankfully there was no rain or it would have been horrific.

I’d spent the day before running a 15 mile stretch of the Fife coastal path so I wasn’t expecting a PB. A woman at the start told me she’d thought the race was going to be cancelled so had spent the night before drinking wine until 2AM. She woke up at 4AM and she couldn’t get back to sleep due to the wind rattling her roof. I was impressed she made it to the start line.

The race started and I was able to run a steady pace alongside Andrew but I knew that if he decided to go faster I wouldn’t be able to match him.

He waited until 500m to go and then sprinted off. I didn’t try to catch him. I was pleased to finish in just under an hour. Which was much faster than I thought I’d manage.

The first hill

Rugged Run: Lennox Forrest (Iain)

Lennox Castle

This run is from Lennoxtown to the trig point in Lennox Forrest. On a good day there’s great views across Glasgow and northwards to Ben Lomond.

On the way you will see an abandoned castle and Celtic’s training facility. Watch out for ghosts in the castle!

The route is mostly on good tracks. The first half starts easy but then there is a steady climb to the top.

Starting Point: Glazert Hotel (https://goo.gl/maps/g4GNoGaYNDwbePXk6)

Distance: 10.5 km

Elevation: 186m

Description: Start at the hotel and run along Chestnut walk (in the direction away from the main road) to the start of the John Muir Way. Turn right and follow the John Muir Way until you reach the road to Campsie Circle.

The start of the trail is at the start of Campsie Circle. The trail starts to the right of the first house, next to a small car park.

The car park

Stick to the edge of the trees on the right hand side. Don’t take the path that crosses the river. That is the wrong way 🙂 The path can be muddy at first but it soon becomes a normal track.

You will soon reach Lennox Castle. It was a mental and a maternity hospital although not both at the same time. Lulu was born here but she doesn’t like to shout about it.

You can actually get to the top of the castle but I couldn’t possible encourage such wanton violation of health and safety rules. So I won’t mention there is gap in the fence. I definitely will not mention that you should make your way round the back to the entrance to the tower.

Inside the castle

The path goes round the back of the castle. Ignore the first turn you see to the right. Follow it until you come to a junction that goes up or down. If you head down the path you will see Celtic’s training ground. Keep heading up until it flattens out at a T junction.

Head right. Follow the path until you come to the next junction. Head left. The road to the right is a dead end.

The path is straight for a 1km and then veers to the left. There is a small track on the right hand side. Take this and follow it until you see the trig point. To get to the trig point ignore the gate. Walk on 20m and there’s a bt of fence you can jump over. The ground here is much drieer than the boggy area around the gate.

Lennox Forrest

After an obligatory photo at the top. Return back to the start of the small track.

The top!

Head in a straight line until you come to Lennox car park and a concrete road. Follow the road until you are halfway down the hill. You’ll see a sign that says Lennoxtown. Follow this track and it will take you all the way back to the hotel.

Rating: 9/10

This is a great 10K route…if you like running up a hill! It’s close to glasgow and you can combine it with a number of other routes nearby to make it even longer and hillier.

Rugged Run: Burncrooks Reservoir

Burncrooks Reservoir

Every winter I lead “Rugged Runs” for the Glasgow Triathlon Club (https://www.glasgowtriathlonclub.co.uk/)

A Rugged Run is a social paced 10k on a trail route. Preferably close to Glasgow so that people can get to it easily.

I’ll add the routes to this site so that they are available for anyone to run.

The Route (https://www.strava.com/activities/2916812128)

Starting Point: Edenmill Farm Shop (https://goo.gl/maps/tLTqyVNTqekoBhFN9)

Distance: 9.6KM

Elevation: 165m

Description:

In the early 1900’s Dumbarton had ran out of water sources in the Kilpatrick Hills. So it was decided to build one slightly further afield. Burncrooks Reservoir was constructed in 1914. Until that point there was only a minor river there.

Dumbarton’s gain was also a bonus for trail runners. The reservoir makes for a great looped run. You can’t get lost. As long as you have the reservoir to one side of you, you will always get back to the start of the loop.

Park at Edenmill. Run out of the car park towards the depot owned by the gardening company Route1. Head along the main road and then turn to your left up the road marked private.

Stay on this road. It is a steady climb. You come back this way so at least you finish with a downhill run.

Go through the gate next to the Scottish water plant. Keep heading up the hill.

Eventually you will come to a fork in the road. This is the start of the loop. I prefer to go right but either way is fine. If you do go left look out for the right turn that will take you to the reservoir.

If you go right follow the path until you come to the dam. There’s a stile to jump the fence here. Cross the boggy ground for 50m to join a path. FOllow the path all round the reservoir.

Rating: 9/10

The loop of Burncrook Reservoir loop is a popular route. I normally meet at least one other runner on the way round. There’s lots of options to extend or increase the difficulty of the route but I like this simple version of it.

You can find out more here https://www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk/2016/10/a-walk-around-burncrooks-reservoir-john-muir-way.html

Swimming Dilemma (Iain)

This morning I swam in a lane next to a another swimmer. They were swimming at a good pace (1.40 min per 100m) and they had a water bottle from a local triathlon club. They were obviously not just a recreational swimmer.

As I swam alongside, I noticed that from above the water their stroke was excellent but below the water it looked very strange.

I couldn’t work out what it was. It just looked strange. As I swam a few more lengths I suddenly realised what it was. Their was no catch. THe hand would go into the water and would barely drag it back before lifting it straight back out again.

So this is the dilema – would you mention it to them?

Yes – I would but here’s the catch…(pardon the pun)…the swimmer was a woman.

If I pointed it out would I be accused of mansplaining.

I was so worried about this I decided to keep my opinion to myself.

The thing is – If it was a man who had been swimming then I would have mentioned it without even thinking whether I should or not!

University – Part 2 (Iain)

Do you remember your first time?

Were you nervous? I bet you worked up a sweat but you didn’t last long.

Did lots of people see you do it?

I’m talking about your first run. What do you think I was talking about?

I used to run at the gym. I would do ten minutes on the rowing machine, ten minutes on a bike and then a ten-minute run.

Which too me seemed like allot of exercise. Nowadays it sounds like a warm-up session. I remember going on a date and I was asked me what I liked to do for fun. I replied that I went to the gym.

She laughed at me and said “You go to the gym?” in a tone that can only be described as very, very doubtful!

I felt really embarrassed. Why did she think I don’t go to the Gym? I did 10 minutes on each machine! I bet that was 10 minutes more than most people.

So I vowed I would try to do more than 10 minutes but there was one problem. I got very bored in the gym. I struggled to do the ten minutes on the machines let alone try for more.

I decided to run outside instead. I lived next to a park. I vowed to run round the park. So on a sunny spring day I changed into my running gear in my flat and then procrastinated about leaving.

What if anyone I know sees me? They will point and laugh. I bet even people who don’t know me will say “look at that man trying to run. Doesn’t he look funny”

I put my clothes back on and didn’t run that day.

The next day I tried again but this time I decided to run at night. That way no one would see me.

I made it to the front door…after 30 minutes of my brain trying to convince me not to go running.

I stepped outside. I didn’t know what to do. Should I start running immediately. Should I go fast, should I go slow. Where will I run to?

I don’t remember much about the run other than I tried to avoid seeing people. Which is pretty easy in a park in the dark. Most people see a 6ft 1 inch man running towards them and avoid me rather than me having to avoid them.  

Book Review: The Rise of the Ultra Runners

You wait ages for someone to use the title “The Rise of….” and then two come along at once.

Last week I went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I did not realise until I got to the cinema that it was an autism friendly screening.  

The interior of the cinema screening was pitch dark and the room was silent. I assumed this was to provide a calming atmosphere.

I sat in darkness for a few minutes. Nothing happened but I could hear other people talking.  

Then, without warning, the Star Wars theme tune came blasting out of the cinema speakers. The room stayed dark. Then there was loud explosions and laser noises but still darkness.

This to me seemed like the least autistic friendly screening imaginable.

I waited a few minutes whilst the cacophony of noise went on but then suddenly all the lights came on. An usher came out and explained that the cinema screen was broken. They explained that if we waited a few minutes, they would fix it. Now that I have seen the film, I wish they had not bothered.

The Star Wars trilogy is similar to an ulrarun. There’s good bits, there’s bad bits and the finish is rubbish. An ultra is about the experience not the ending.  

In Rise of the Ultra Runners (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NDNCB8J/) the author Adharanand Finn travels the world investigating why people feel the need to run long distances in challenging environments.

He places himself very much into the narrative as the book follows his quest to collect enough points to get into the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc and then actually run and finish the race.

He is an experienced (mostly road) runner who was mainly interested in speed and times. It was interesting to see how his mind-set changed when faced with challenges where the journey is more important than the destination and time.

He covers the history, personalities and his experience of ultra-running. It felt like it was a good informal history of the sport as much as his personal narrative.

There is a very interesting section on why Kenyans don’t do ultra’s even though they should be amazing at them.

I would have liked to have heard more about the training. You don’t get as good as he is at racing without hours and hours of training. Did his wife mind him training all the time? Did his kids appreciate him being away?

There is a number of interviews with ultra-runners but he never asks the question I want to know the answer to.

“What are you running from?”

Because spending that much time doing anything is usually an indication you are avoiding something!

For example I spent time writing this blog at work because I was running away from doing some proper work!

Overall – It was a good easy read. After reading his section on 24 hour track running I’m intrigued to try it myself. So give the book a go, it might inspire you to try something new too.

University – part 1 (Iain)

The view of the Uni in the prospectus

I studied Computing at the University of Edinburgh. I remember my first day at the University. I was informed I’d have to do a Maths course as part of my degree.

I asked “Why? I’m here to study Computing.”

The tutor replied that it was a requirement of the British Computer Society.

I said “Why? I’d rather learn something useful!”

He looked at me and said “Stop arguing. Just sign up to the Algebra course!”

At the end of the year I did the Algebra exam. I answered every single question and included my working out.  I got a score of 0/30 and the tutor wrote “This shows no knowledge of Algebra what so ever!”

I finished the course with a third class honours degree. Mainly due to laziness. I hate learning a subject if it’s something I feel is irrelevant. Allot of the course was irrelevant. I was good at the things useful for a career in Computing and hopeless at the bits that wouldn’t help me get a job.

Since then, I’ve had a successful IT career and not once has anyone ever asked what I got in Uni, whether I passed algebra or whether they could they see my British Computer Society membership.

The lesson I learnt is that you don’t need to go to Uni to be successful. You just need to work hard. People will judge you on what you achieve in life, and not by what bit of paper you hold.

The actual uni building I studied in. I was in the basement!

Outdoor Swim Review: Hebrides – Braighe Beach (Iain)

Recently I was browsing Instagram and I spotted this photo from the Isle of Lewis. It shows a couple walking a dog on a nice beach. It’s a nice pic.

Something about the pic seemed familiar but I couldn’t work out what. I looked at it more closely and realized that the couple in the photo are my Mum and Dad. They were walking on one of their favorite beaches – the Braighe. I doubt either of them have ever heard of Instagram or know that the photo even exists.

Braighe is an apt name for the beach as it means sandy strand in Gaelic. The sandy side of the beach is a fine sandy strand between two parts of the island.

You can swim on either side but normally the west side is calmer as it faces a protected bay.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There are three car parks available. The middle one has toilets. It is only a 10 minute drive from Stornoway to the beach.

Water quality: The water quality is crystal clear and perfect for swimming although on a wild day it can get a bit sea weedy on the bay side.

Swim Quality: Cold. In December the temperature was 7C. I had a short swim in a circle. In the summer I’ve been here and swam the length of the beach.

Other People: Not a soul.

Would I go back: Yes. Its the easiest place to get to have a sea swim that is near my parent’s home in Stornoway. Normally one side of the beach will protected from any bad weather.