The Balloch to Clydebank half marathon was one of Scotland’s least scenic races. Previously it started in Balloch; ran through the worst parts of Renton and Vale of Leven; popped into Dumbarton before running along the side of the A82; passed the betting shops of Bowling and Kilpatrick; and through an industrial estate in Clydebank before finishing at the bins of the Clydebank shopping centre.
Over the years it has improved. It moved the start to Loch Lomond, it swapped Renton and Vale of Leven for the Dumbarton canal but it always finished at the bins. Until this year. Or, technically, until 2020 as this was the postponed 2020 race which had been cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead, for the first time, the race finished beside one of the Clyde cranes in a newly re-developed area on the banks of the Clyde. We barely even passed a betting shop. A big change.
Unfortunately, while the race was improved, my time had not. I made two mistakes with this race. The first was to turn up at the start line in the wrong shoes. I had my trainers in the car but I forgot to change into them when I collected my race number in Clydebank and jumped on a bus provided by the organisers to get to the start line. Instead of running in nicely cushioned trainers I had to run in trainers with all the bounce of a brick wall.
Secondly, to make the race even harder, I was running after bruising my ribs two days before. Every time I swung my arms, my chest complained. Every time I took a step, my chest complained. Ouch.
Luckily, the new route is straightforward and very flat for most of the race so I was able to settle into a slow rhythm and get round without any yelps of pain.
The race normally takes place in March but was moved to September as it has been cancelled a number of times due to bad weather in early Spring, including one year when it was snowing. The change of date meant there were fewer people running so, if you’re thinking of a race late in the season, then do think of this one. It’s a great race, well organised, and it’s doesn’t end at a bin (any more)!