Freezing Your Ballochs Off At The Clydebank to Balloch Half Marathon 2019 (Andrew)

It wasn’t a good start. I was in the back of a taxi and having to point out to the driver that he was driving away from where we need to go. “Are you sure Clydebank is not back this way”, I pointed. He took one look at the sign saying “Clydebank” behind us and said: “I don’t know that way”. I asked if he was following his satnav and he added “Never use it – it gets things wrong all the time!”.

Given I had been tracking him on an app as he approached the house and I could see he’d missed the road, done a u-turn, missed the road again, got caught in a one way system and had parked for 5 minutes in a laybay (I assume to try and work out where he was going), he maybe wasn’t one to judge others on directions. Never mind criticise the location prowess of multiple geo-stationary satellites and the software calculations of Google.

“Can you just turn round and I’ll tell you where to go?”

“We’re going the fastest way,” he said.

We weren’t.

“You won’t get there any faster,” he claimed.

We would.

“But if you insist…”

I did.

And 10 minutes later we were in Clydebank for the start of the race and not in Hamilton, which is where we would have gone because ‘that’s the way he knew!’.

On the way over, between giving directions, I could see the weather was turning. Grey clouds were turning black. A few spots of rain became a shower became a powerwash from heaven. 

By the time I left the taxi, I was soaked through just spending 30 seconds looking round for Iain.

He wasn’t there.

Hardly, anyone was there.

I phoned him.

“Are you in the car park?”

“Yes!”

“No, you’re not. I’m here and I can’t see you.”

Then he asked if I was in the right car park as the race start had moved from the old sports centre to the new one. 

“Errr…”

Turns out my taxi driver wasn’t the only one with no idea of where he was going…

The Balloch to Clydebank half marathon should be called the Clydebank to Balloch to Clydebank half marathon as you start in Clydebank, the finish line, by jumping on a bus which takes you to the start at Loch Lomond shores in Balloch.

This year it might also have taken you back to the start because, as we drove up, the rain turned to snow, and you could see it start to cover the pavements. When we arrived, the driver was told to wait, in case the race was cancelled.

I thought it would be cancelled. The snow was heavy and I couldn’t imagine either runners racing on it or volunteers standing outside. I didn’t think it was safe. I was wrong. And right.

I was wrong that it would be cancelled. The race went ahead but with the option for people to jump on the bus and return to the start. But I’m not sure it was safe. There’s was a lot of snow and slush on the pavements and runners moved onto the road at points to run through Bowling and Clydebank.

While the roads were quiet, there were cars and buses driving behind them and I heard a few frustrated honks from the drivers. 

The race itself was a challenge to remain warm and comfortable as the weather changed from snow to rain to dry spells to rain again. 

Knowing that it might rain I’d just worn shorts and not leggings. My theory is that leggings don’t help in the rain. They just get wet, then your legs get cold as leggings cool you down. You’re better off with just your hairy legs – nature’s leggings! – when it rains.

I don’t know if this is true though but for half the race I congratulated myself on my choice as the water dried from my legs during the dry spells, and the other half of the race cursing my choice as everyone else looked like they were running as a happy as runner with toasters strapped to their thighs.

You can’t call the race scenic. There’s a few nice spots, mostly at the start as we run along the canal from Balloch, but most of the race is through housing or industrial estates. It does though have the advantage of feeling like you’re running downhill as there’s very few climbs, or even gentle inclines, and there’s a few long stretches when you run downhill. 

But at least the finish line is scenic. If you like skips and bins. 🙂

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