A long, long overdue blog post here. A bit of shame as Stirling was my 10th marathon, and now my memories are all a little hazy (perhaps I’m just trying to remove those 3 laps of the city centre from my mind!).
The Day Before
On the Saturday was a family ‘fun’ race – so we had entered Esme into her 1st ever ‘race’, a mile run around the grounds of Stirling University – which brought back some memories for me as the place that my sister went to University. I remembered the grass and lake, but mainly it brought back the reward of a huge hot chocolate, cream and a flake from Nibbles cafe in Bridge of Allan – a cafe that sadly no longer appears to be there.
With me running the marathon the next day, duties turned to Rox to run with Esme, although it appeared no-one was in the mood for posing for photos.
Whilst waiting to start, the reality of a marathon the next day was all too real – don’t know if the organisers left the mile marker signs out on purpose?
Finally we (they) were off for a mile trip round the University. Hats off to Zola Budd and Liz McColgan who went beyond their duties and ran round the course a couple of times passing on words of encouragement to the youngsters.
Post run I managed to catch-up with Zola Budd!
— Greg (@movingalong79) May 20, 2017
Having spent a couple of days in Scotland, the evening turned to getting myself ready for the big day. Unpacking my race bag – Willen Hospice running vest, socks, trainers, gels, race belt and number. All sorted – oh, apart from I’d need some shorts?! A midnight trip to Asda resulted in only some swimming trunk shorts!! Turns out it is possible to run a marathon in £5 beachwear!
Opting to get the earliest bus possible (the race started outside of Stirling, at the Blair Drummond Safari Park) and with it being its inaugural event I couldn’t help but think the ferrying of people via buses was going to be an optimistic plan (think the organisers did the very best they could with this, but the start pens felt emptier than perhaps they should have, and people were running into the Safari Park as the countdown for the race start had begun).
The seals didn’t seem to impressed with the early arrivals though:
It was as the hours and then minutes started to countdown that I started to think I’m not sure I really want to run 26.2 miles today. Not great thoughts to be entering your mind with about 20 minutes before race start.
Anyway the race started and we left Safari Park, running round some beautiful countryside, before then heading through some small villages – and heres a quick capture of me early on in the run (towing the middle white line closest to the camera – leaving shot at 4:49):
The support was fantastic, but Dunblane – well that was something else. Both sides of the street were jam-packed with the most enthusiastic and vocal support you could imagine. That mile, or so, just flew by.
Then it was on to Stirling University which marked the half-way point. The downside of Stirling University the mile upwards climb – the up-shot. Turning round a cone and coming straight back down it. It was here that the only photo of the day capturing my in my swimwear was taken:
After heading through the excellent support at Bridge of Allan (I think it was here that I was offered grapes by a spectator?! A slight depart from the usual affair of Jelly Babies. The response from a fellow runner of ‘only if you turn them into wine’ brought smiles all round though), the next few miles were dull dual carriageways, but essentially being used as a way to get runners back towards the city of Stirling. I was crying out for the city centre and some support to arrive, but it took until Mile 17 to get there.
The finish was essentially 3 laps of the City Centre. A little depressing when the 1st mile sign you see shortly after Mile 17 is Mile 24 and you realise you’ve got a long way to go yet! The city centre loops were hilly affairs – with some fantastic support in the city centre streets itself, and a loop (including down and up an underpass) through streets I didn’t recognise. A local group (residents or church?, I’m not sure) had set up a drinks and food station that much appreciated just before the official shower point. The loops around the city centre were definitely not flat, and this is where the wheels came off a little for me. (I’d paced this race so much better than MK a few weeks earlier – heading out at about 4:15 pace rather than 4:00).
Crossing my 10th marathon finish line in 4:24:50, just 28 seconds slower than MK.
Willen Hospice and MK Marathon 2017
In May 2017 I ran MK Marathon and Stirling Marathon. Now thoughts turn to Snowdonia Marathon in October to raise funds and awareness for Willen Hospice, an amazing local charity. I’ll be blogging my journey from here to the finish line. If you’re in a position to make a donation, however small, it’d be greatly appreciated. My JustGiving page is here, or alternatively you can text ‘GBMK50 £3’ to 70070 to make a £3 donation.
Many, many thanks to those who have donated so far, it really is appreciated, and really helped out at about Mile 19, Mile 20, Mile 21, Mile 21.5, Mile 22, Mile 22.5….