The Maryhill Harriers Christmas Handicap was back after last year’s cancellation due to Covid. That meant James had been reigning champ for two years, but he doesn’t like to talk about it.

It was a small field this year due to a combination of isolation and injuries. The start times were kept under wraps almost until the gun. There was still time for some grumbles about the timings, but Craig P did a good job of what is always a thankless task. I was second to set off, but I was surprised at Alisdair getting a start on me. I haven’t raced against him that often, but in the few times I have, I’ve never once beaten him! It was only a 10 second start so I had caught him by the roundabout but I waited until the turn onto Maryhill Road before making my move. Once in front I knew I had to stay there if I was to have any chance of winning; there were too many good runners behind me.

Covid meant we had seen very little of each other racing, so I had no idea what form people were in, but regardless of form I knew if any one of them passed me that was my race over. The climb up Caldercuilt Road on the second lap is usually where my race falls apart, but the stamina wasn’t a problem for once after my prolonged marathon training. On reaching the top I thought I might actually have a chance as it’s all downhill to the finish. I was too scared to look behind though and just gave it everything to the finish. I only dared look round when I had crossed the line for the win.

The only problem with leading a race (it’s never happened to me before) is you can’t see what’s unfolding behind, so I only saw the rest of the field as they crossed the line. Craig P gained the most, starting 7th and finishing 4th – if I was in charge of the handicapping I would win it every year!

We had plenty of support on the course from Dan, Finn, Margaret, Joe and Mick, although not all of Mick’s words were complimentary. Let’s just say he wasn’t impressed with the post lockdown fitness levels 🙂

Results: Shown are finish time (clock started when first runner started) then actual race time by each harrier

1st Kenny (25.11/23.46)

2nd Alisdair (25.51/24.36)

3rd Scott (26.07/21.17)

4th Craig P (26.30/20.00)

5th Kevin (26.46/20.26)

6th Craig W (27.11/23.16)

7th Willie (28.37/23.00)

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