Nigel Barge 10k
As well as the 10k race, we also organise a 3k Junior race for those aged between 9 and 15.
“The Barge of course – it’s the classic!”
The 2017 race started near the Maryhill Road entrance with runners following the road behind the clubhouse, round to the pitches at the lower level where the path narrows out. A sharp left over the bridge and it’s the first climb up to the Vet School, exiting the estate onto Bearsden Road via Ilay Road. The short downhill gives the legs some respite before the left turn and push along the gradual incline of Temple Road towards Dawsholm Park.
Runners then enjoy the downhill of Dalsholm Road, crossing the River Kelvin and a short steep incline to Maryhill Road where you can regain some speed and stretch out the legs back to Garscube. On the second lap, you don’t turn left behind the clubhouse, instead you continue on over the bridge and complete the rest as before and finish up racing towards the bridge.
The race does not take place on closed roads, therefore runners should heed the instructions of marshals and not jeopardise their safety or the safety of others.
F. Jenny Bannerman | Inverness Harriers | 36:01
The race commemorates Nigel Barge who was killed in action at the age of 23 in Dunkirk during World War II. Nigel was an outstanding officer who trained as a Royal Engineer.
He came top of his class at Woolwich (“The Shop”) and had helped prepare and map defences around Dunkirk. He assisted in the repairing of small craft to ensure the debarkation of his comrades. Nigel was a licensed pilot and a keen athlete who ran for Maryhill Harriers, of which his father was a committee member.
His father was Colonel Kenneth Barge, a committee member of the Harriers. He won the Queen’s Medal and two clasps before going to India in 1903 with the Cameronians. Two years later he joined the 17th Cavalry of the Indian Army, and he became a Bengal Lancer. That year he accepted a challenge to run a mile, walk a mile, ride a horse a mile, and ride a bicycle a mile, in less than 20 minutes. He managed it in 19 minutes 8 seconds.
More information on the family can be found on the Helensburgh Heritage website.
The Barge started life as a 5 mile road race and has had a long and formidable history in which every top endurance runner in Scotland took part in it at one time or another.
The race was always held on the first Saturday of January, unless it actually was the 1st (Beith Cross-Country was traditionally held on New Years Day), and the timing meant that there was always a great atmosphere as many runners turned up for the first time of the season just to see old friends and swap stories.
The first race held in January 1943 was won by Thomas Gibson, Bellahouston Harriers and was reported in The Glasgow Herald:
T Gibson of Bellahouston Harriers won the Nigel Barge Memorial Trophy five miles road race from Maryhill on Saturday in the fine time of 24:56.
The contest was keenly fought out, both for the individual and team tests, T Gibson early on got to the front, hotly challenged by JE Farrell, Maryhill, and G Burdett, the Navy and Shettleston Harriers. It was only over the last mile that Gibson succeeded in drawing clear of his rivals to win by 15 yards. Burdett did well to reach third place, a similar distance behind Farrell. Garscube (R Hulgrew, A Donnett and A Hay) aggregated 18 points in the team race to beat Maryhill (JE Farrell, J Hoskins and R McPherson) by one point, Shettleston Harriers being third with 26 points.
To read more about the history of The Barge and other great Scottish races and runners, check out the Scottish Distance Running History website.
The original 5 mile route
Starting on Kelvindale Road, runners descended to cross the bridge over the Kelvin then faced a steep climb up to Cleveden Road. Turning right along Cleveden, there was a steep decline towards the Forth and Clyde Canal then a left turn onto Temple Road. A right turn at the end of Temple took you up along the long Switchback Road to Canniesburn Toll. From there it was another right turn and about a 2 mile slog along Maryhill Road until the final right turn back onto Kelvindale Road for the finish. To say it was undulating would have been too kind.
If any runner active at present thinks he has run a hard hilly course, well he hasn’t tackled this one. Do it on your own on a quiet Sunday morning and wonder at the fortitude of your forebears! Scottish Distance Running History
View the route on plotaroute.
Glasgow Herald, 6 January, 1986
History was made in 1986 as Geoff Turnbull became the first Englishman to win The Barge. This report from The Glasgow Herald by Doug Gillon tells the story and reads “like a Who’s Who of Scottish athletics”.
One of Scotland’s most historic races, Maryhill Harriers’ annual Nigel Barge Memorial event, saw yet another chapter penned on Saturday when, for the first time, victory went to an Englishman.
Geoff Turnbull from Gateshead shrugged off the dogged resistance of last year’s winner, George Braidwood, over the final mile and a quarter of the snow covered four-and-a-half-mile course.
Turnbull, the Scottish 1500 metres champion in 1982, won by nine seconds in 22min. 23sec. Bellahouston’s Braidwood held off the stampeding pack in which Steven Doig (Fife Southern) was third, one of six athletes to be covered by just three seconds.
The Barge is Scotland’s oldest same-course race, being unchanged since its inception in 1943. A list of previous winners reads like a Who’s Who of Scottish athletics. John Emmett Farrell of the host club won in 1944 and still on the roads at 76.
Andy Forbes, Commonwealth Games six-mile silver medallist in 1956, set an unbeaten sequence of five successive victories from 1948. The Victoria Park veteran is also still running at the age of 70.
Jim Dingwall equalled Forbes’s record from 1975-79. Other winners include former Scottish mile champion Graham Everett and Alex Breckenridge – the latter became a major in the US Marines and served two tours in Vietnam, the former was present on Saturday to see his daughter compete.
There was Joe McGhee, Commonwealth marathon champion, Lachie Stewart, Commonwealth 10,000 metres champion, Olympians Fergus Murray and Frank Clement.
Turnbull’s winning time did not threaten Nat Muir’s record of 21-46, set in 1963, and was identical to Braidwood’s time last year. It also prevented the Bellahouston Harrier from establishing a pre-Commonwealth Games omen.
Lachie Stewart, a dental mechanic won in 1969 and 1970 before striking gold in his historic 10,000 metres. Braidwood is also a dental technician, with designs on a place in the team for Edinburgh this summer.
Stewart, 42, was still good enough on Saturday to win the veteran’s prize when finishing thirty-second overall in a time of 24-18, easily good enough to have won in some of those earlier years.
Indeed, the time of Saturday’s women’s winner, Marcella Robertson (Edinburgh Woollen Mills SH) at 25-30 was only 34 seconds slower than the men’s winning race time in the very first race.
Andrea Everett, on vacation from Perdue University in the United States, took second in 25-40 behind orienteering and cross country international Marcella with Dr Penny Rother (Edinburgh AC) third in 25-50. Lynne McDougall (McLaren Glasgow AC) working her way back after injury, was fourth and clubmate Carol Sharp fifth.
Turnbull, a self-employed printer in Newcastle, had looked set to make a significant impact on British athletics a few years ago. Having outsprinted Kelso’s John Robson to take the Scottish 1500 metres title in 1982, he clocked 13-32 and 7-47 for 5000 and 3000 metres respectively in 1984 before succumbing to a persistent knee injury. This was his first race since October and his attempt at the event.
Steven Doig, a Jordanhill student and cross-country international, was the only other competitor to offer serious resistance to the leading pair and almost paid for it. Having run in isolation for most of the race, he and Braidwood were caught in turn by the pack.
Doig actually dropped to sixth with 600 metres left, but rallied to sprint clear on the run-in, finishing a second behind Braidwood in 22-33.
Hugh McKay (Dundee Hawkhill) was given fourth place ahead of Donald Bain (Falkirk Victoria) both in the same time of 22-34, while Gary Grindlay (Falkirk Victoria) and Charlie Haskett (Dundee Hawkhill) shared the 22-35 spot, Grindlay getting the verdict.