The Clyde Stride

Sunday, 29 July 2012

You all thought I'd become an ex-Blogger, didn't you?
Well I'm back.

Before I go on and get into the meat of this post I should tell you that the prefix 'EX' has played quite a role in my life, so it's not an unfamiliar feeling for me to be considered no more....kaput...zapped....endex.

After all, I've acquired the mantle of ex-husband on two occasions and in turn have associations with two ex-wives; I'm an ex-British soldier, although most who have spent time dressed in olive drab will tell you that the qualification as a state trained killer and master bass-broomsman never really leaves you.

I was even called an 'ex-runner' by BDTP (Big Davie The Polis) AKA Davie Hall while I was in attendance at the Clyde Stride Ultra Marathon last weekend. My role was race assistant and house journalist rather than a Dressed-as-Max-Wall participant, but Mr Hall's scything comment cut so deeply that I am now in training for a return to ultra running in the not so distant future. Well, for 'in training' read: 'skimmed once through a copy of Runner's World before focusing on the more adult material on the top shelf in the paper shop.'

Anyway, while my achievements as an ultra runner might be questionable, my ability to make the published page as a race journalist is going from strength to strength ( I had my second article published in 12 months but whatever way you play it that's a 100% increase in successful submissions).

The published article can be accessed here:

However, for the second time in a row some pencil-necked, shiny-arsed editor, safely ensconced in an office, has taken a metaphorical chainsaw to my labour of love and hacked out all the good bits. So just for you, Dear Reader, I provide the full, unedited version, in all its wordy glory, here (the bits the editor decided were unfit for consumption are shown in yellow):

After weeks of persistent rainfall the sunshine that was ordered by Lee Maclean for Saturday 21st July was filled and delivered and the sun indeed shone on Partick for the 2012 Clyde Stride 40 mile ultra marathon. It is rumoured that Ms Maclean actually sold her soul to Beelzebub to ensure the presence of a fiery orb in the sky and she is doomed to spend the rest of eternity stoking the fires of hell. Not too different a future when you're from Glasgow, right enough.

119 individual runners and 22 relay teams lined up to hear the starter’s pistol fired by Brian MacLeod, store manager of Morrison’s supermarket and host of race registration, and at 09:00 141 runners began their journey to New Lanark. The phrase 'starter's pistol' is an exercise in artistic licence. The equipment used for the task of setting the runners off was actually a horn that sounded a bit like Vanessa Feltz letting rip a saved up fart.

From the outset it was clear that Giffnock North’s George Taylor intended to employ a self-proclaimed sprint-and-hang-on strategy as he led the field out of Glasgow toward the first check point at Cambuslang. Hot on his heels was former race winner, Grant Jeans. What George failed to reveal is that his plan was hatched on the start line after hearing one of the marshalls at Cambuslang was suffering toothache. Like all exponents of his profession, George was armed with a pocketful of business cards and a prepared quote for 'pain free dental treatment.'

George Taylor was still in first place going through the 10 mile check point in a time of 1:04 with Malcolm McDonald, Paul Giblin and Donnie Campbell following closely. Unfortunately it was here that Grant Jeans became the first race casualty when he was forced to withdraw with breathing problems. A surprise leader in the women’s race was ultra marathon newbie, Charlotte Black who had travelled from Shetland for her first race beyond 26.2 miles and her first off-road. She was followed closely by the female winner of this year’s West Highland Way Race, Rosie Bell. In the relay race the first team to pass the baton was Rebel Runners 2. Unfortunately for Grant Jeans he was to spend the next few hours trapped in a support car with the author of this article who, throughout the day, made thumb and forefinger 'L' signs on his forehead and said: 'Welcome to my world, Granty boy.'

This year’s sweeper, the indefatigable Stan Bland, saw the rear markers safely through Cambuslang. Among their number was Scottish veteran Ray McCurdy who was well on his way to completing his 104th ultra marathon. Although Stan believed to the contrarary, Ray stuck to his agreement not to play Hide n' Seek during the race. Although witnesses claim to have heard Stan whispering in Ray's shell-like: 'You know there's only enough provisions at checkpoints for the first 75 runners?'

The fine weather continued throughout the day although the course failed to dry out completely, a fact that was made evident by Paul Giblin who arrived at the second checkpoint in Strathclyde Park covered head to toe in mud. Unfortunately the fall that led to his immersion also caused some mild concussion and dictated his reluctant withdrawal at Mauldslie Bridge. It's a strange phenomenon that not a single other runner seemed to suffer a similar fate to the 'Mud Wrestling Weekly' subscriber, Giblin.

The battle for first place was now being fought out between Donnie Campbell and Craig Reid with Donnie leading by under a minute going through the 28 mile check point. Charlotte Black maintained her domination of the female field leading Strathaven’s Rosie Bell by 17 minutes and in the team event the limitations of age were disproven as the Carnegie Wrinklies handed over seconds before Rebel Runners 1. It's fair to say the Wrinklies' inability to maintain top spot might be compared to other functions that individuals 'of a certain age' need pharmaceutical assistance in keeping up.

The Race Director and her band of assistants were now set up with beer and tablet to receive the race winner in New Lanark and their anticipation was relieved when Donnie Campbell came storming down the hill to break the tape in a spectacular 5:05:42. In second place was Craig Reid in 5:18:30 who bettered third place finisher, George Taylor by a little over a minute. And in the women’s field Charlotte Black was overwhelmed at success in her first ultra when she claimed top female in 6:06:00. The shortcomings in the Race Director's plan for post race rehydration were proven when she employed her sister-in-law, Arlene at the race end. The ever increasingly inebriated assistant slowly became surrounded by empty beer bottles as she hollered risque sea shanties to the finishing runners. 

Despite Rosie Bell’s outstanding victory in the West Highland Way Race just four weeks previous, the Strathaven hotshot proved that she had the legs and heart to make the podium in 6:13:12 with her Strathaven Striders team-mate, Elaine Calder claiming third place in 6:22:14. The relay finish was a fiercely battled affair and resulted in Motherwell AC eventually claiming top spot in front of Rebel Runners 1 and Strathclyde Park Run 1 who were beaten into second and third places respectively. Motherwell were overjoyed at their victory while Rebel Runners 1 appeared to clutch their second place prize as if their mislaid tickets for the men's 100m Olympic final had been exchanged for back row seats at the synchronised swimming.

Finishers arrived steadily in New Lanark for the next four hours until Stan Bland herded Noanie Heffron, Alan Fitzsimmons and Dave Egan down the hill to cross the line together in 9:22:00.
In total 106 individual runners claimed their finishers’ medals and all 22 relay teams covered the 40 miles to make the sun-drenched Clyde Stride the sixth success in the 2012 Scottish Ultra Marathon Series. The author has used the words 'sun' and 'drenched' to suggest that the default Scottish attire of overcoat, hat and gloves were not required for this event. The reader should not assume this is an indication of a mediterranean holiday type affair. If you really want 'sun-drenched' try the Western States but be costs a helluva lot more than fifteen quid, there's no local Buckfast outlet and you don't get a vice-like cuddle from the Race Director at the end.