Balloch To Clydebank Half Marathon 2019 (Iain)

Andrew was on the phone to me. “Where are you?” he asked.  I replied “I’m in the car park.” I’d agreed to meet him at the official race start – Clydebank Leisure Centre. I was parked in the car park and I thought I was quite easy to spot as it wasn’t too full of cars.

“Where in the car park? I don’t see your car.”

I looked around. I was the only car in my part of the car park. I was very visible. “I’m the only one here. Look towards the back of the car park.”

“I can’t see you. There’s nobody parked at the back of the car park!” He sounded annoyed.

It suddenly dawned on me – “Are you at the old leisure centre rather than the new one?”

“There’s two lesuire centres???”

“Yes – you’ve gone to the old one! Idiot!”

It was a fair mistake to make. The race had always started at the old leisure centre. I drove over to collect him. There was a number of other runners waiting there. Which goes to show how few people read pre-race instructions as it was quite clear from the notes where to go.

The race is a point to point from the shores of Loch Lomond back to Clydebank. Clydebank is where the band Wet Wet Wet come from. It was also an apt description of the weather. The rain was hammering it down as I got changed in the car but thankfully, I had packed a Gore-Tex hat and jacket. Once I had them on it looked like I was off to climb a mountain rather than run a race.

The view from my car

To get to the start the organiser put on buses. They must have asked the bus company “How much for a bus to Balloch for 700 runners….HOW MUCH!!!…Can you do it cheaper? How much for a bus with no heating?”

The cold miserable bus ride was more of an endurance test than the race itself. Shortly after leaving Clydebank the rain turned to snow. The talk on the bus was whether the race would be cancelled. I saw one man in small shorts and sleeveless vest. I don’t know what weather forecast he’d seen that morning to be dressed so inapproriatly. He must have assumed the yellow weather warning meant “Danger – there may be sunshine!”

When we arrived a man told the bus driver not to leave as he might be needed to take all the runners back to the start. The organisers were consulting and would announce shortly whether the race would go ahead.

We took the opportunity to get into the toilet before anyone else. This will explain why

Word soon came through that the race would go ahead but anyone who wanted to go back to the start could get back on the bus. I was happy to run. It had stopped raining and it didn’t feel too cold although I was worried what the paths would be like.

Runner are a hardy bunch so quite a number did choose to start including the man from the bus who had hardly any clothes on.

The start

The first couple of miles are along a canal path. There’s not much room to pass people which is annoying as faster runners get caught behind slower ones. Which is why I was behind Andrew… honest!

There was a lot of puddles on the path due to the rain. Runners like to think of themselves as hardy souls prepared to run through rain, hail and sleet but the one thing they won’t run through is a puddle. It was amusing to watch the different techniques other runners used to avoid getting their feet wet.

Some do a swerve at the last second to avoid the puddle and other attempt a long jump to stride over it. I prefer to go straight through the first puddle I see and let my feet get wet. I then don’t have to care about avoiding puddles for the rest of the race. Its a wet race just get soaked and then get on with it!

The last few miles of the the course is normally run on pavements. The organisers very clearly state “Stick to the pavements. Do not run on the road.” But many chose to ignore this as the pavements were covered in slush. Some were running on the road with headphones on as car’s wizzed by. I’d rather get my feet wet than be hit by a car.

Race organisers should offer a email/text service were you can grass up other competitors to get them disqualified. It would be for peoples own good as they’d then learn not to so stupid things in races!

I’d ran with Andrew until the last mile. At that point he increased his pace and I couldn’t keep up. I was happy to have stuck with him until then as I was still a bit sore after falling down a hole on a bridge the previous week.

Although the start of the race has changed the end has not. It still finishes at at the old leisure center which meant a one mile plod back to the car via some of Clydebank’s most glamorous spots

Oh the glamour of running

POSTSCRIPT: I asked for a medium sized t-shirt but I didn’t try it on until I got home. The organizers must got their t shirts from the same place as they got the buses. “Hello, how much for 300 medium sized t shirts….HOW MUCH!! Do you do kids sizes? is that cheaper? I’ll take 300 kids medium sized T- shirts.”

Its the smallest medium sized t shirt I’ve ever received at a race. It barely covers my belly button. I’d like to wear it as its a smart design but I’m afraid I’d look like a 1980’s dancer from Fame!

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