Glen Scotia Marathon - A Personal Take

posted 14 Apr 2017, 06:50 by Enquiries campbeltownrunningclub   [ updated 14 Apr 2017, 06:55 ]
By Ewan Smith

A year ago I would have said that  I would never run a marathon; somehow I just didn't see myself going for 26 miles without just giving up.  
Then last summer I started to think just maybe if I could get into the VLM in 2018 it might be something to do as a one off.  Then along came 
Glen Scotia; it was,I reckoned, a year too soon but it was on the doorstep. The knowledge that Darren, Iain MacGougan and Ralphy who were 
of a similar standard (apologies guys!) were up for it encouraged me to enter. Though I wasn't at all sure I would make it to the start line, 
never mind finish it.

The prospect of getting in the necessary miles was a bit daunting.  Over the past couple of years I've been injury prone and I have a tendency 
now to wrap myself in cotton wool at the first sign of a niggle. In the event I found time was a big factor and I never did get much over 40 
miles a week in.  As to a plan, well I used one as a guide but whoever writes plans clearly doesn't have work, a family, or Argyll weather to 
consider so it was a guide as much as anything.  The plan didn't mention running 26 miles at any point but I wanted to be sure I could, so I did. 
While that removed a doubt, the last 5 miles also gave me a pretty good foretaste of what would happen on the day. The plan didn't mention the 
Learside either. Stuart had told me that "it's no as bad as they're sayin" but that didn't entirely reassure me because I've bought epples 
off his barra afore and anyway he's in the Premiership and I'm no.  To be fair to the big fla, an out an back LSR from the Rocky Burn to 
Pollywilline proved he was probably right, though that said more about the level of horror I was expecting than anything else.

And so to my surprise I found myself on the start line.  Iain had already told me he was out but I was sorry that Darren wasn't there. I'd 
had a droll niggle in my ankle for a few weeks and stood wondering if maybe I should have the sense to pull out too.  I set off with Ralphy, 
Jen and Stephen Blackstock - with Stuart and Garry Muir well in front of us. Jen and Stephen are both usually faster than me and Ralphy is in a 
different league when it comes to putting in the miles so I wasn't sure how that would go.  The initial pace was faster than I had intended but 
it seemed ok so I went with it. By about Stewarton ( I think) Jen and I had left the guys a bit behind and on the long downhill I moved ahead of 
Jen. I kept thinking that they would probably pass me at a later point but I felt fresh and kept going and soon I was at Southend.

This was a section I didn't know at all and hadn't quite clocked it was so hilly which was a wee bit daunting  About this point a spectator told 
me that I would move into 3rd if I passed the guy in front of me. That puzzled me a bit. I knew the Turner boys would be ahead but wasn't sure 
about the other teams and I wasn't likely to catch them or Stuart or Garry who I had caught glimpses of.  As I turned a corner I saw Garry 
walking. He said he had cramped up and I suggested jogging out it.   A few minutes later going up the hill at Pollywilline I heard footsteps 
behind me. I assumed it was Garry back on his game but it was Iain Docherty who told me Garry had pulled out before he disappeared at 
speed. That was a low point. I tried to tell myself that Iain was only running part of the route but the hill and the news about Garry let the 
doubts creep in.

However, having got to the top of the hill,I told myself that there were only 2 more hard bits to come and battered on as best I could. Much of 
the Learside is a blur. I remember looking down on Southend and thinking it was a stunning view but I'm not actually sure if I could really have 
seen that the way I was heading. I remember Elgy telling me to take something isotonic; I'd stuck to energy blocks up until then.  I 
remember Elgy passing me about the Second Waters and I remember being unable to run up there but being frightened to walk in case I couldn't 
get started again. I remember telling myself to man up and I remember not listening!

At last it was downhill all the way - but by the NATO jetty I was dished and try as I might I couldn't get the pace up and I expected to be 
passed by quite a few at this point. I even worked out what my time would be if I walked the rest. Somehow I finished it.  Stuart had 
finished long before though as ever he was giving himself a hard time for not being faster. Jen came in just behind me and then David Carey 
who ran the second half a lot faster than I did.

If you had told me the week before I would have done it in under 3.30 I would have taken that gladly. In the event I know that I could, with 
better training, better running and better fuelling have got under 3.20.   However conditions were perfect and I doubt I'll ever do better on that 
route in future.  I was chuffed with second but again I know that flatters to deceive as Garry and David Carey are considerably better 
runners than I am ( and younger!)

It was a great event. If you're only interested in PBs then it's not for you but you'll never find a better organised event and you'll never find 
a more beautiful. The piper and the spectators added to it as did the catering.  It was probably the best event I've ever entered and thanks 
are due to Elaine and everyone who made it happen. If you've never done it give it a go and finally a tribute to those hardy souls who were 
still running at 3 o'clock; keeping going like that took some doing. 

Well done!