My first race (Iain)

The first race I ever entered was the Glasgow Half Marathon in 2001. I recently tried to find my result but all I found was a paragraph in the then Glasgow Herald:

“Congratulations to the 7,625 runners who completed the race. Results will be available in Glasgow libraries from Friday.”

Imagine entering a race now in which you only got your result a week later in a library.

For any kids reading this. Libraries are like a Kindle but in brick form.

When we were young Andrew and I would go to the local library in the morning to get a book each. We’d read the book in the afternoon and then return to the library to get another book to read in the evening.

Yes – we were the cool kids in school.

Myself, Andrew and one of his friends had entered the race. Andrew’s friend arrived at the start wearing a backpack that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Sherpa climbing Everest.

“Are you off to climb a Munro?” I joked.

The Sherpa didn’t laugh.

“No. I brought the backpack to carry my juice.” He pulled out a two litre bottle of orange.

I stared at it and said: “’You do know you get water on the course? You don’t need to bring your own.”

He looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course I know that. That’s why I brought diluting juice!” He’d brought a two litre bottle of Robinson’s diluting orange juice.

How much juice can a man drink!? He either gets very thirsty or he was planning to open an orange juice stall.

The race started.

Someone from the crowd spotted the Sherpa and shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?”

He didn’t laugh.

30 seconds later a woman from the crowd shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?” This was going to be a long day…

My race was uneventful until I got to the nine mile point. I wanted to beat the other two. I looked at them. They weren’t paying attention so I started running as fast as I could. I’d run fast until I got to the finish line.

I ran hard. I saw the 10 mile sign in the distance. Not far to go now. One last push…I ran hard. I looked for the finish line…but there was no finish line. At this point I realised a half marathon is half a marathon and not, as I mistakenly thought, 10 miles.

I felt a bit stupid and the fast run had tired me out. I had to walk. The other two caught up with me.

“Why did you run off?” Asked Andrew.

I told them the truth…sort of.

“I was desperate for the loo….ummm…yes…that’s why.”

They continued running. I walked the last three miles until I got to the finish. I met Andrew and the Sherpa. The Sherpa offered me some juice. I said yes

He opened his bag to get it but pulled out a pair of boxing gloves.

WTF!!! Said the expression on my face. “Why did you run with them?”

“This is my boxing bag. Where else would I keep them?”

I had to admire his logic.

I’ve never seen him again since that day.

Tokyo Marathon 2008 (Iain)

Last weekend saw the 11th running of the Tokyo Marathon. It’s one of the “big six” world marathons.

  • Tokyo Marathon
  • Boston Marathon
  • London Marathon
  • Berlin Marathon.
  • Chicago Marathon
  • New York City Marathon

Its also one of the worlds most boring races!

In fairness – I find all marathons boring but surprisingly, for a man who hates long runs, I have done quite a few of them.

The first one, I didn’t actually enter. Andrew had trained for months to do the 2003 Edinburgh Marathon. This was when the marathon ran through Edinburgh rather than its modern incarnation which heads away from the city to Musselburgh. It should really be called the run away from Edinburgh marathon.

He was supposed to run it with his friend but his friend got the flu before the race. Andrew asked if I’d do it instead. I had done no training. I did some last minute cramming to get fit but blew it all by drinking until 3am the night before the race!

6465684683_63aab8016d_oThis picture does not do justice to how hungover I was feeling. On a drinks consumed scale I was somewhere between George Best and Oliver Reed.

If you look closely you will see a mobile phone in my right hand. I’d promised to phone my mum to let her know how it was going. I bet Mo Farah doesn’t do that.

I lasted until the 14 mile point then gave in. I took my number off and jumped on a bus to the finish.

My next race was the Berlin Marathon. This time I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t even make it to Berlin.

I suffer from a fear-of-flying-itis. I got a really bad dose of it and didn’t make it onto the plane.

My next attempt was a marathon in Fort William. It was 13 miles out then 13 mile back. I did the 13 miles out and then jumped in a car for the way back!

Did I mention I don’t like long runs.

Which is why you might ask how I ended up in Tokyo doing a marathon that going by previous records I’d be unlikely to finish. I was actually out visiting an ex-flatmate who worked there. We both thought it would be a good idea to time it with the marathon. It was only the second time the race had been run.

I can’t remember if I did much training for it which I think means I didn’t do much.

The race itself was very boring. Tokyo is a great city but its very modern. The route was up and down straight roads passed identical office/housing blocks. 26 identical miles is pretty dull.

The only thing that livened up the race was trying to work out what to eat and drink at the feed stops. Everything was in Japanese. I’d pick something that looked tasty only to discover it tasted disgusting!

10398829_10721953161_1131_n.jpg

The day after the race I went snow boarding. My friend had recommended it as Japan has great snow and slopes. Which was lost on me as I’d never ski’d or boarded before.

On my first morning I went to the children’s slope to practice. I stood on the board. Slid down the hill and promptly fell over. Whilst falling I managed to accidentally punch myself in the chest, cracking a rib.

So my abiding memory of japan is a boring run and an incredibly painful 4 days of snow boarding.

I’ve never been on a board since or done a marathon!