Cool temperatures and a stunning sunrise greeted runners at pre-race registration on the newly-restored Victorian pier for the inaugural Dunoon Ultra Marathon and Relay on Saturday (8 October). 119 participants set off to the sound of pipes and a roar of cannon fire at the start in Benmore Gardens.
runABC Scotland’s Alex Osborne, who took part in the race alongside ultra debutant Emma O’Rourke (Greenock Glenpark), reflected on the experience: “A fast start led us into the enchanting climb up through Puck's Glen, and up onto the forestry roads above Loch Eck. With breathtaking climbs and toe-nail blackening descents, this was my favourite section of the now 55km route (it was sold as a 50km!).”
“With marshals, photographers and supporters appearing at regular intervals, runners were well encouraged, back down and along the shores of Loch Eck, as they returned to Benmore Gardens, before starting the last stretch toward Dunoon.
“Another steep and never-ending climb, before a (relatively) fast descent over the last few kilometres to Dunoon seafront, and round to the tumultuous applause and cheers on the pier finish line.”
The race winner was local hill runner Michael Tweedley in 4:13, followed home by Richard Cooper (4:29) and Kevin Rogers (4:37). The women's race was won by late entrant Madeline Robson (5:03) with Fiona Ramsay (5:25) and Elaine Somerville (5:26) making up the podium places. 18 teams competed in the relay event, with Giffnock North AAC emerging victorious in 4:27.
Dunoon Presents and Dunoon Hill Runners have fired this event onto the Scottish Ultra racing calendar, and with many of this year's finishers already talking about signing up for next year, it looks set to grow and grow…
Image courtesy Alan G Forsyth Photography