The Glasgow SubRun (Andrew)

10 years ago I was involved in a project that required 10,000 documents to be signed. I can’t tell you about the project as I had to sign the Official Secrets Act before starting on it. So, ignore that first sentence as 10 years ago ‘a friend’ was involved in the project that required 10,000 documents to be signed…

At the end of the project, a man was appointed to sign all 10,000 documents. Before he could start, health & safety had to carry out a risk assessment. He was told he could sign for 20 minutes at a time before he had to take a 15 minute break. He could have a signing session no more than six times a day. And, at best, it would take a month to sign his name on all the documents. At worst, if his name was Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Senior (the man with the longest name in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records) it would take the rest of his life.

It was health and safety gone mad!

Which is a strange phrase. If health & safety had genuinely gone mad it would make you wear a bomb strapped to your chest rather than a bike helmet to make sure you ride really, really safely and don’t fall off. It wouldn’t be trying to prevent a repetitive strain injury through a measured and effective system of writing and resting. That’s not mad. That’s good sense.

Health & safety is a good thing but it gets a bad rap. The nanny state. Maybe it would have a better reputation if it had a better name? I’d call it the NSFW regime. The Not Safe For Work regime. Which I admit could be confusing if you want to watch a NSFW video. Oh my. But it would be much cooler.

‘Mad’ health & safety rules don’t just apply to signing documents. They also apply to driving trains. In Glasgow, a driver on the Glasgow subway can only drive a train for 25 minutes too. Why 25 minutes? That’s the time it takes to go round the whole subway and, as the subway is an oval, the drivers get dizzy as they’re literally driving in circles all day*.

(*This may not be true. Someone told me this and it was too good to actually check the answer and have it debunked.)

On Sunday, Iain and I decided to carry out our own health and safety assessment by following the tube David Bowie style: station to station.

We had a simple challenge. We would start at one station and then we’d run to the next and the next and we’d follow them round in order of the tube map.

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Which in the real world, still looks like an oval.

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There is a drinking game version of this challenge. It’s called a “subcrawl”. Subway + pub crawl  = subcrawl. Did you see what they did there?

On a subcrawl you have to travel round the tube and get out at every station and have a drink at the nearest station. From trendy bars in the Westend to big name city centre pubs, traditional tenement corner bars filled with Union Jack flags near Ibrox. It’s all of Glasgow seen through the bottom of a pint glass.

I’ve never done it. If I did I’d last two stations, my alcohol tolerance being as low as Nigel Farage’s tolerance for Polish builder. And, just like employing a Polish builder, I’m easily plastered.

Instead, Iain suggest a healthier challenge. Instead of drinking, we’d be running. We’d have a Glasgow subway + run = Glasgow Subrun (trademark pending). Did you see what we did there?

We’d start at St George’s Cross (because it was near the swimming pool so could have a shower afterwards) and we’d run clockwise to Cowcaddens, Buchanan Street and beyond.

Here we are at the first stop:

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It was easy, it was only a few hundred metres from the start. As were the next two, Buchanan Street and St Enoch stations, which sit on either end of the same street. After that the challenge was to find the stations.

The stations south of the Clyde are more spread out and less obvious to find with Kinning Park being the hardest to spot as we ran past it then had to double back to take a side road to find it.

We also had to run through the Clyde Tunnel, to cross the river. It seemed fitting. We were finally running underground.

It was great to see Glasgow in a different way and to find out which stations were closest (Partick and Kelvinhall), which were furthest apart (Govan and Partick) and which didn’t have an underground welcome sign and spoiled our 15 selfies (Partick, we’re looking at you and shaking our fists!). It was also a chance to see how Glasgow changes from area to area, and how, in many ways, they’re just the same despite there vastly different reputations.

Why not run it to? And, if you want to run the #GlasgowSubrun then these re the seven rules you must follow:

  1. You can start at any station
  2. You can run clockwise or anti-clockwise
  3. You must go to each station in the order they appear on the tube map
  4.  You must cross the Clyde using the Clyde Tunnel so that you’re actually running underground
  5. You must take a selfie at each station
  6. You don’t need to pose or gurn
  7. But it helps!

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