Stirling Scottish Marathon

Sunday 21st May saw the inaugural Stirling Scottish Marathon take place, kicking off from Blairdrummond Safari Park with four of the Harriers taking part (sadly missed John to complete the team photo). John and Kevin were making their marathon debut whilst Chris and Kieran were adding to their tally.

John got off to a stress free start on the morning of the big day, getting up at 5:00am for breakfast, setting off in the car at 6:00am and arriving at the Prudential Park and Ride with no problems at all to catch the free bus out to Blairdrummond.

It was a bit of different story for Chris, Kieran and Kevin, with Chris on driving duties. After a couple of wrong turns they ended up at the Springkerse Park and Ride, thankful for their poor navigation skills as by this time there were large tailbacks to get into Prudential. They arrived at the Safari Park about 8:30 and had a bit of a walk to the starting pens. Queues for the toilets were pretty excessive at this point and there seemed to be a few runners taking an interest in the surrounding bushes and trees. Needs must as they say! Bags dropped, bananas eaten, nipples vaselined, Harriers hoodies substituted for running tops and it was time for the off.

John’s race report:

When deciding to do my first ever marathon, why did I choose Stirling?

My choice was between Edinburgh Marathon and Stirling Marathon. Edinburgh is my birth city and while I was looking at loads of different marathons I thought Edinburgh would be the best choice at the time, but when Stirling was announced it was a no brainer, the scenic countryside, running through villages and towns and it was advertised as relatively flat and great for a PB, so Stirling it was (any time for me was going to be a PB).

I thought the start was pretty well organised, in fact the whole day was pretty well organised apart from a few things that I thought weren’t (anyway come to them later).

John soaks up the atmosphere at the start of the Stirling Marathon
John soaks up the atmosphere at the start of the Stirling Marathon

Chatting with other runners, some stretching, a wee jog around, some sprints and a couple of trips to the toilet later, all of a sudden it was race time and time to gather in with the White Wave where I met up with Chris Gunn. We were all filtered down to the start line giving some big cuddly mascot animals high fives on the way which relieved the nerves a bit and brought a wee smile across the face.

As with the start of all races it was a slow start because of the congestion and nice to see all the staff along the road to the entrance/exit cheering us on our way.

Leaving Blairdrummond we take a left turn out of the park, run on the main road for a few hundred yards and basically do a hairpin turn on to the other side of the road and back past the safari park entrance and along the quiet country road with stunning views.

Our first village to run through was Doune, the local people came out in there droves to cheers us through, the whole village must have been out and their support was totally awesome. I had a plan, a set pace to stick to but the atmosphere just lifted you so much and before I knew it I was very much faster than I should have been. Kids handing out jelly babies, kids really urging you on when you high fived them and also the adults giving you loads of encouragement to keep going even at those early stages in the race. Dunblane and Bridge of Allan were both the exact same as Doune, the people packed the streets and gave every runner awesome support.

Photo by Alan Potter

Upon entering the grounds of Stirling University we hit a hill that I certainly was not expecting, but I managed to take it in my stride (so to speak) and coped with it okay.

I can’t remember about what mile stage it was but running along and all of a sudden the Wallace monument coming into sight sent a shiver down my spine and made the hairs on the back of neck stand up. It really did give me a great boost at this stage.

The first 18 or so miles were absolutely great scenery, also feeling comfortable and holding my planned pace and then you hit Stirling!

Advertised as 2 loops of the city, it was really 3 loops or at least I went running through the Under Passes and through the High Street 3 times.

Stirling was an endurance test all on its own and has more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. Nearly every turn there was another hill and the underpasses were torture!

Just past 23 miles and I got a stitch (too many gels I think) and I had to walk around 5 times for a minute each time to get fully rid of it. Then around 25 miles I took cramp in my right hamstring and had to stop and stretch it out. Around 25½ miles cramp in my left hamstring, again I stopped and stretched it out. Being encouraged by the crowds I started jogging again and managed to increase my pace back to normal and run the rest of the way, crossing the finish line in a time of 4:36:30

Once finished I got my goody bag and tried to leave the finish area. That turned out to be a bit of a challenge as family and friends of runners were all hanging about at the exit which made for bad congestion on what was getting a muddier field.

All in all, I totally enjoyed the whole occasion of my first marathon. Will I run another one……..the jury is out at the moment!

Cons:

  • The 3 loops/laps around Stirling
  • The underpasses
  • Congestion leaving finish area
  • No lettered meeting points at the finish
  • No information about return buses to park and rides.

Pros:

  • Awesome crowds
  • Fantastic scenery
  • Very nice medal
  • Nice t-shirt
Photo by Alan Potter

Kevin completed his debut marathon in 2:58:23, finishing 56th out of the 6,500 runners. After crossing the halfway mark in 1:25:02 his target pace of between 6:30-6:45 was going great guns but he then found it harder to maintain that level of effort. Pace was slowing by mile 20 and the legs were tightening. With some time in the bank, he took a couple of short walking breaks during the last two miles to prevent cramping up and managed to recover for a fast finish alongside 3rd female Juliet Champion.

Photo by Alan Potter

Chris was on schedule for 4:15:00 but by mile 18, like most of us, the legs were taking a pounding and slowed down. Chris finished in 4:45:25.

Photo by Alan Potter

Kieran too, found it hard going from mile 18 and crossed the line in 3:17:25.

At the end of the race we all met up with our respective friends/families for a well earned beer or two.

Overall a great showing for the Harriers at the Stirling Scottish Marathon and it was great to hear shouts for Maryhill going through the towns thanks to former Maryhiller Caroline Jones and from the Glasgow running community as we ran through Stirling.

The race was won by Andrew Lemoncello in 2:25:01 and first lady was Lesley Pirie in 2:47:48.

Maryhill Harriers results:

  • Kevin Campbell – 56th – 2:58:23
  • Kieran Sullivan – 213th – 3:17:25
  • John Edgar – 2796th – 4:36:30
  • Chris Gunn – 3068th – 4:45:25

Race photos by Alan Potter available at smugmug.

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