The Nigel Barge 10k was traditionally the first race of the year in Glasgow. It was held on the first Saturday of January and attracted hundreds of runners to a hilly and challenging course around the West End.
It was set up in 1943 to commemorate Nigel Barge, an officer killed at Dunkirk. Nigel was a keen runner and a member of Maryhill Harriers running club. After his death, his father set up the race in his memory. It has been held continuously for over 70 years and is now one of Scotland’s oldest road races.
You can find out more about its history here: Scottish Road Running History
Today, the course has moved from its original route to Garscube sports grounds, about four miles further west. Unfortunately, the race may have moved but the hills have remained. It’s a two lap course with two steep hills, tackled twice.
I was looking forward to running. I’ve never raced as early as January before and I thought it would be good practice to see how I’d perform after a couple of weeks of training. I thought 47 – 50 minutes would be a good time and give me something to build on for the months ahead. It would also be a good test of running in bad weather, or at least I thought it would…
Unusually, Sunday turned out to be almost Spring-like. The temperature was in double figures and the sun even threatened to peak out three months early. I ditched running gloves and an extra top and went with a base layer, t-shirt and leggings. It was too much and I found myself wishing I’d just worn a t-shirt after the first kilometres.
I also felt I started too fast. The course is downhill for the first 500m and, with everyone jostling for position, I couldn’t help running faster. Iain also starts faster than me and I tried to keep up even though it felt like I was running faster than I should. Normally, he would start to pull away, but this time I kept pace.
After 500m there was a short 100m section across playing grass before re-joining the main path. However, after raining most of the week, the grass was just a boggy swamp. Runners lept from foot to foot like Cossack dancers to avoid touching the ground. A few slide. One even found a sink hole that went down to his knee. It was funny until I remembered I was running in (no longer) bright white new trainers.
The first hill came a minute later. A long steady slog near Garscube vet school. The second hill a short sharp climb to Maryhill Road. Neither were pleasant but they both had longish descents after them where I tried to open my stride and run faster. On the second lap, on the descent after the first hill, I started to lose Iain. On the second descent, I grew the gap to 100m.
After that, my only thought is: “Don’t let him catch me, gotta keep ahead of him.” I looked back once, with 200m to go, and saw he was still 100m behind. I knew I was safe but still tried to finish with a burst, my thoughts now turning to Norseman: “Only another 20 miles to go (and a mountain)”.
I finished in 45 min 58 seconds, pleased with my time and with beating Iain after he’d “won” our last few 10k races.
One race done. One race won. A good start to the year.