The Romance Run

I can’t wait for the 28th of April when I run the London Marathon, I figure it will be one of the best days of my life so my next idea for a training run was to pay homage to the best day of my life so far, my wedding day. I started at Carfin Chapel and ran to the Bothwell Bridge Hotel where we had our reception, I can highly recommend it by the way if anyone else fancies getting married there. Just ask for Stephen and he will see you right! I threw in an extra lap of Strathclyde Park to signify our wedding rings.

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Today’s route, Carfin Chapel to Bothwell Bridge Hotel with a lap and a half of Strathclyde Park thrown in.

Here is the link to the “Relive” footage of my run, I quite like this app. Footage here

So, I headed off to Carfin Chapel. I tried to take a picture outside the chapel but there was a Priest there who didn’t move and I was starting to feel a bit shady hanging around so much. I headed into Carfin Grotto to recreate one of my favourite pictures from the day, the results can be seen below:

Kirsty looking beautiful
Me looking less so

I know the immediate question everyone asks is “How did the person in the bottom picture manage to marry the person in the top picture?” I guess I must have a good personality or something! I set off on quite a bit downhill section and ran past Motherwell’s football stadium. This is the Davie Cooper stand, I mentioned him in another blog I wrote.

Fir Park

From there I kept on down Airbles Road and into Strathclyde Park, here I am just before my first water stop. Because of my eye it is really important I stay properly hydrated so I always take on as much water as I can now.

Action Shot – I wasn’t going too fast though

From here I wanted to do a lap of Strathclyde Park to signify our wedding rings – I never thought I would be doing something so sappy but I had to get my miles up! That was brutally windy in there today. I managed to overtake a couple who were having difficulty riding their bikes into the wind and everyone I passed was wrapped up all warm. At the far end of the loch there were a load of people out with greyhounds, must have been some kind of meeting, I was hoping they didn’t mistake me for a hare and chase after me! Back towards the point I entered the park again I had the wind at my back but there are a few hills here that I didn’t enjoy before I turned back into the gale again and trudged my way through the final 2 kilometres in the park.

From here I ran out the park at Toby Carvery (very nice breakfast) and ran around a fairly busy roundabout before starting the ascent into Bothwell, that is a pretty fancy place (at the top of a deceptively steep hill). I knew I only had a kilometre or so left but it seemed to take forever up this stupid hill the whole way! Soon I turned the corner and I saw the Bothwell Bridge before me.

Almost there

We go to the Bothwell Bridge every year on our anniversary and always have a great meal in the restaurant. The food is pretty fancy, not what I usually would have but it is always amazing – and the waiters in the restaurant are all so polite and well mannered, it’s a real throwback to good old-fashioned perfect service. Just one last task, get my photo taken at the wee arch. I hope they don’t mind but I stepped over the wee chain that was there – hey, it’s for charity! Hopefully I am not banned now.

From the wedding day
From the running day

Just another couple of photos from the front of the hotel and then I got in the car to go home, getting out the car was a lot harder than I am used to.

Phew, thanks for reading all that. 18km is my furthest run so far. I have the Inverness half marathon in 6 weeks so I am kind of focussed on that at the moment but the London Marathon is quickly marching into view – can’t wait!

My modest sporting background in Dunoon.

Postcard view of a chilly Dunoon

Today I was in Dunoon. It was my Dad’s birthday (happy 73rd birthday Dad) and I always like visiting my hometown. Kirsty says we can retire there but I am not so sure I believe her. This blog is going to be a look at some of my background in sport in Dunoon and there are plenty of old clippings from the Standard and some pictures of current day Dunoon. There are plenty of names in the old paper cuttings, if you can’t make them out or zoom in too much give me a shout and I will zoom in on my copy and send it to you. As always, I am writing this to try to promote my sponsorship efforts for my London Marathon run for the RNIB. You can sponsor me by clicking http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuartmtaylor or by texting SMTR76 £3 to 70070 (other amounts can be done as well.)

School Sports results

What better place to start than the school sports. I loved these days and was gutted when injury ruled me out of my P7 school sports day. These are the results of my final sports day, hopefully you can enlarge this to read the names. Not a stellar year, 2nd in the skipping race, joint 3rd in the obstacle race and 3rd in the 3 legged race.

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Dunoon Fun Run from the mid 80s. I am number 31 on the right.

The Dunoon fun run was probably my first taste of an organised run outside of a school sports day. Registration was held in the Argyll Gardens then we all ran to Western Ferries and back – 4 miles. I enjoyed it. My friend Innis suggests we ran it together one year and I stopped in Kirn Variety for an ice lolly, probably a Lemonade Sparkle or a Mini Milk.

Finishing straight in the fun run and the swimming pool
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A view down to Innellan

Another really fun race was the Innellan Fun Run. The view above shows part of the route. A current 10k and half marathon goes down this stretch of coast. I did the 10k this year, running into the prevailing South West wind was brutal! The Innellan fun run was organised as part of the Innellan Festival, a fine event which also had a 5 a side competition (picture of that later) and a pool competition in The Osborne, I didn’t enjoy that so much as I was always playing someone miles older and I was scared!

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Me and Innis finishing the Innellan fun run
Dunoon Stadium, home of athletics and Dunoon Amateurs and Cowal Games

Next is my time in Cowal Amateur Athletics Club, hosted at Dunoon Stadium. I always fancied myself as a bit of a long jumper but was no real use at anything else. Gary Clark was bullet fast over the short distances and Neil Walker was the long distance man. I was reminded earlier of the rocket fuel drinks of diluting orange we got in a room in that main stand – if the anti-doping federation had been about they may have had something to say about this – that stuff was potent and oh so tasty.

A Thistle Award

In Athletics club we competed for Thistle Awards, you got points for different distances or times in different events and they were combined to get you a number of gold, silver or bronze awards. These were then presented at the end of season awards ceremony in the Masonic Hall after we had spent all night doing the Conga and the weird “Superman” dance – great times! We got wee badges and patches to go with these.

I have just given myself the idea to try and see if my 42 year old self could beat y 10 year old self!
Can’t believe we lost

Occasionally we would have competitions against other Athletics clubs. Loads of names here, click and share if you want! I hope people can read this.

2 silver – no gold for me…
Modern facilities much better than they used to be.

Now onto my football career. Not a very successful one! I remember playing in the DYFL with some massively older people. My first game was for the Wizards against the Stings at the Grammar School. It was pouring down and someone passed to me straight from kickoff and I miscontrolled it. My confidence was shot. Who knows what could have been had I controlled that ball. Dunoon actually produced a large amount of players: Andy and Gavin Galloway, Neil MacFarlane, David MacGregor and Andy Graham. Recent additions include Lewis Strapp and Declan McDaid. I eventually got placed in the Nursery League with the Phantoms and started to play well (against younger people) I enjoyed that more.

Me at the Toward 5 a side competition
My favourite clipping ever!

Football was always great fun, I wish I was better at it. I was not the worst and sometimes was called up for “Select” teams that got to play on Dunoon Stadium in the black “Legends” strips. A local nightclub sponsoring 12 year old football teams may not be quite as welcomed these days! I also played for an under 18 team in Dunoon, the most memorable moment being whenwe lost 13-0 to Ferguslie Youths and our goalkeeper David Mitchell still won man of the match! Or the time a big fight started (I was not involved) and the referee called over Dunoon number 9 to send him off and was our best player. Someone then distracted the referee and our number 9 swapped strips with one of the weaker players so the wrong person got sent off – the Erskine manager went bananas!

Newly refurbished Queens Hall

In here was all sorts of things. 5 a side football and badminton being the main ones for me. Badminton was on a Monday evening and used a series of metal rings to indicate who was playing who. I once was runner up in a mixed doubles competition, see below! I also played badminton at Friday Club out in Kirn, I think it was only meant for Kirn Primary pupils but I was allowed to go and made new friends.

I was a runner up
Putting Green

We used to play mammoth putting competitions here in summer, 90 holers! Sadly no longer used for putting.

Finest view from a tennis court anywhere

Every day in the summer holidays was spent here at the tennis club – we did near enough everything except play tennis! Football, cricket, urban golf, chess, mountain bike men, table tennis, pool and running about the Castle Gardens – but not much tennis. I was junior champion in 1991, beat Mark Johnstone in the final. I tried to attack in the first set but Mark kept tapping it back to me and let me make mistakes so in the 2nd set I just tapped it back to him as well. It went down as the most boring tennis match in history. Umpire Neil Lea said he felt sick because his head was swinging back and forwards so much.

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We did play tennis sometimes
Castle Hill
Argyll Street – home of the bed race

There used to be a bed race in Dunoon, we took part once with the Scouts, racing hospital beds up Argyll Street!

The “family jewellers”

I’m just whacking in a picture of this shop because they always provide me excellent, quality service! Plus I used to play tennis against Timothy J Sharp and his younger brother.

Argyll Hotel and Argyll Gardens

Here I used to work on the bouncy castle and try to perfect flips and kicking the inflatable crossbar at the front of it. There also used to be trampolines here and little buggies as can be seen below.

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Those cool wee humbug things in the Argyll Gardens
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I did make the swimming team once

I also went to swimming club every Tuesday, it eventually became a little competitive for a non-competitive wee guy like me but loads of the members did really well, a really successful club.

Dunoon Pier

Finally the Pier. We used to engage in a spot of Pier Jumping off the waiting room roof that you can’t see here. We waited until the Waverley came in so the pier staff were all too busy to come and stop us. That was pretty dangerous now I think about it. Nowadays they have a mountain biking competition here and the ultra race and triathlon finish here.

So, there we have it. Having written all that it further reinforces how lucky I was to grow up in a town like Dunoon with so many adults willing to give up their time to help us get into sport. I am also really grateful to have supportive parents who ferried me to all those things and encouraged me to stick at it even when I wasn’t enjoying it too much – thanks Mum and Dad 🙂