John Muir Ultramarathon – Saturday 23rd April

At the end of last year, I applied for the London Marathon, as is tradition for my birthday weekend … and as so often happens, I was denied, and a club place alluded me. Nevertheless, I was enjoying my running and kept up a decent training schedule. Fortunately, a nice trail run came up closer to home, the John Muir Ultra, which is this Saturday. It seemed like a fun run through some lovely countryside, so I bravely signed up (this will be my first ultramarathon). I’m unsure if I’ll still think it was a great idea on Saturday after 31 miles, but there’s only one way to find out now.

I wasn’t planning to fundraise during for this, but things changed. In early March, one of my fellow Edinburgh AC club mates, Andy Laird, committed suicide. Whilst I didn’t know Andy hugely well, I always remembered that he was one of the first people I talked to when I came back to running as an adult, and he was kind enough to share lifts to races. We used to pass fairly frequently during lunchtime runs, and around our work locations. Running was a big part of his life. Andy was a lawyer, who has left behind a devasteated wife and young daughter.

In memory of Andy, many of us from the club that are running spring marathons, are fundraising for SAMH, which is Scotland’s leading mental health charity. Chris Creegan, a fellow runner, is the chair of the board at SAMH. All money raised will be channeled specifically to suicide prevention resources.

There are many worthy causes out there to support. Suicide, particularly amongst men in their late 40s, remains a major issue. There is also stigma attached to discussing suicide. Please support the work to change that. The fundraising page is a group page, and Alex is one of our wonderful endurance coaches. You can mention my name in any comment you leave.

If you happen to be in North Berwick or Dunbar over the weekend, and see me struggling along the road, feel free to provide cake/ice-cream/beer.  All will be gratefully received.

My Weekend, And Where Time Goes

I’m posting this so that I can look back and see how things change over time.  There may be more of this type of post in the months to come…


  • 6.30am – up to go to Ruaridh’s swimming lesson (at 7.30am)
  • Bakery, then home by 8.30am
  • Breakfast, then back to toy shop to get a present
  • Leave house at 9.45am to get to party for Ruaridh’s friend at 10am
  • Midday, leave party and head home
  • Walk back down to bakery (we eat a lot, and I didn’t mange to make bread in time)
  • Lunch
  • 2.30pm – family visit to see my brother and his wife
  • 6pm – tea
  • 8pm – kids asleep in bed, I collapse on the sofa, Hazel wakes me at 10.15pm, and I finally go to bed after feeding Milie at about 1am…


  • 6.30am – up with Millie, soon followed by Ruaridh.  Breakfast, tidy kitchen.
  • 9am – go running with Edinburgh AC, 20 miles.
  • midday – home for a big, post-run, lunch
  • 2.30pm – drop Hazel off, to meet a friend.  Take kids to North Berwick, and spend hours running around the beach, and eating ice cream.
  • 6pm – home, fish and chips for tea
  • 8pm – kids in bed, I sneak 45 mins of shut-eye
  • Realise that both Saturday and Sunday papers remain unopened.  Leave them as they were.

Cobleland camping

RiverRiverTents set upOut for a walkViews of the site
  BBQ PeteSleepytimeBreakfastFootball
 CampPost-lunch walk Malcolm & RuaridhIce cream

Cobleland camping, a set on Flickr.

Pete, Nathan, Amelie, Ruaridh and I went camping close to Aberfoyle, at the Cobleland campsite. This was Ruaridh’s second adventure in a tent, and first with other kids. Excitement ran high for a few days beforehand, and hit fever pitch when Pete arrived at the house!

The site itself was really nice – a small but well-stocked shop, very friendly staff, and some cool paid-for & free activities. We had booked in advance, and the site was getting very busy when we arrived, with lots of families in huge tents. We got ourselves sorted out, and got some lunch on the go. After that, we got the tents pitched, and took a walk along the river, in the glorious sunshine.

After a quick shower to wash the river water off the small people, we took a drive into Aberfoyle for supplies. There is a bike path, but we had travlled without wheels this time. Dinner was a tasty barbecue rustled up by Pete. Ruaridh was asleep around 8.30pm, surrounded by the sounds of other kids still having fun. Amelie and Nathan managed to keep their eyes open for a little bit longer, whilst Pete and I enjoyed a few refreshing beers.

In the morning, we had a full spread of cereal, coffee, fruit juice, water, fruit, bacon rolls, brioche, hot cross buns and malt loaf; at no point did anyone on this trip go hungry, that’s for sure … and probably not much of a surprise to those that know us.

Once we were packed up, we headed on to the Three Lochs Drive, and then we stopped for lunch and a walk at the far end of Loch Achray. Our final stop was a scenic sail on SS Sir Walter Scott, on Loch Katrine, followed by ice creams. Happy days!

Overall, it was an excellent trip. The kids all got on really well together, which was brilliant to watch. The site had lots of things to do for kids, the facilities were very clean, and the site looked lovely. There were only a few things we’d have done differently, that can easily be sorted out for next time. Time to plan the next adventure.

Ruaridh’s first camping trip

Surveying the campsiteSleepytimeMorning!Time to start the day
And off we go

Ruaridh’s first camping trip, a set on Flickr.

Allan (my brother) and I took Ruaridh for his first time camping last weekend. We selected a campsite in Dunbar, about 45 minutes ago, just in case we had to make a dash home.

As it happened, the wind was wild, the tent shook, and Ruaridh snored through it all. We all had great fun, so future adventures are on the cards.

London Marathon 2010

My addiction continues!  I’m back in London for the Marathon, which is tomorrow, Sunday 25th April.  Again, I’ve been lucky to get a place that does not require sponsorship, through my excellent running club, Edinburgh Athletic Club.

This year, there are two charities I’m supporting:

I know that the proliferation of online giving means a lot of us get more requests for sponsorship each year, so I’m not doing a hard sell here, but they are both great causes and will make good use of your money.

On a lighter note, if you’d prefer to buy me a beer following the race, then send Hazel or me a text, and I’ll let you know where I am.  Co-ordinating is always fun!

This year, I’m simplifying, and may well run without GPS watch or even my phone.  You can track me by texting ‘run’ to 83040 [in the UK], and then you’ll get a link to the service.  My runner number is 26793.

Spotify on Squeezebox

It’s taken me far too long, but I’ve finally got Spotify running on my Squeezebox on my Ubuntu box.  All the information needed is here in this thread, and you’ll need dsbridge and the Lame encoder.

Finally, to get playlists opening from Firefox, follow the instructions here, but instead of editing about:config, go to edit -> preferences -> applications and set Spotify to use the script, instead of going directly to the Spotify application.  Rock on!