Down by the river – parkrun and Cambuslang 10k


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It all begin innocently with a comment from Jim, the legend in lycra. “We should provide the volunteers for parkrun”. We had a wee chat about it and realised just how many of us had started our running with a wee visit to Strathclyde Park on a Saturday morning. I know that I had back in June 2011. I mentioned it to the committee and it was on. Motherwell AC were going to give something back, and so we should. Volunteers came forward easily, cake recipes were exchanged, the MAC Marquee was primed and so it was on the 5th March I found myself in the resplendent blue vest of the 25 pacer.

233 runners turned up and we had the start in the right place, so that was good 😉 Bang and we were off. I was really nervous, had never paced before. I had been warned on Facebook the night before that I had better get it right by some one called Emma. If she didn’t get 25 I was toast. Off I went, maybe slightly fast and I soon heard the voice “Right Mark, get to work, no excuses”. It was Emma from Airdrie, a former MAC runner from many years back. Gave it up to do knitting instead she told me. Got through 1k 10 seconds fast with a little group around me. I let people know we were 10 up and would be running steady 5 min ks the rest. And so I did. It was good fun. High 5ing people on their way out as we went back. Lots of encouragement. I tried to keep people up to date on where we were, how far, our pace, really willing everyone on. Emma stuck to me like glue, thankfully now too tired to talk. Man she could talk. The weather was perfect, sun shining, no real wind, dry, I even had my shades on and it was great fun to be doing this. Got into the last k and a few folk including Emma started dropping back. Nothing I could do, I had to keep my pace going. 500 to go, told the folk slightly ahead to crack on and 25 was in the bag and in I came in 24.55, close but not close enough, a couple of runners came in in 25.02 and 25.03 including our knitting superstar and I wondered if I could have done it different and guided them over?


Maybe next time, because there will be a next time. Pacing was great fun and I hope I didn’t let my wee group down. We at Motherwell AC had a fantastic time hosting the event and appreciate the work that goes into putting it on every week. We hope everyone else enjoyed it too 🙂 Highlight that I missed was Scott and Ross taking each other out on the finish line. And neither had their barcode. The winner did the macerena as he finished.


Sunday was the Cambuslang Down by the River 10k, the first in the MAC club champs. I wasn’t bothered about it. It looks like I am in League 1 this year and the slowest in it, plus I am obviously not particularly fit. As I said before the race, “Off to Cambuslang 10k this morning and my first 10k race since last years Polaroids. Very rusty and still a couple of minutes off where I was but will be good racing again, 2 months or so ago I didn’t think I would race again 🙂 important thing today is to keep the head happy as a lot of club mates will beat me today as a club champs race and they have been training all winter. Blank it out and just concentrate on my own run,I know where I want to be and this is just another part of the road :)” Totally true and meant. My aim was to get under 42 minutes as I haven’t even tempo’d a 10k this year, but was going to go out and try and run 41 pace, and see how long I could hold it for. Was nice to catch up with quite a few folk before the race as it’s been a while including Arthur and June Duggan, and was nice to have (race winner) Robert Gilroy shout “all right big man” to me. Lovely fella, and the only person who calls me big man 😉 Not chip timed but didn’t mind hanging back at the start as nothing big planned. Bang, or go, as my old coach Mike Johnston started the race. Ewen went away fast and I realised just how far back we actually were as I could see other maroon vests a long way ahead. That’s ok though. First k quite fast as usual, in about 3.48, and I had Emma Stevenson , who is in great form just now,on my shoulder, and Jim and Marcus not far behind.



I could see Ewen and Clare cracking the pace on ahead, and way in front were the big shots from our club. Emma went to go past and I upped the pace slightly to avoid getting boxed as we headed onto the river. I found myself at the head of a group where I didn’t really want to be, so the next couple of k saw me trying the catch the group in front, which was lead by Hamilton’s Claire Macarthur, a very handy athlete.


I realised that already the k markers and the Garmin distances were out probably due to the winding nature of the path so decided to ignore the watch except for time splits at the k markers. I pushed past Claire about 4k and felt Marcus nipping in behind me. Wasn’t bothered, not racing, all about me. We went through 5k in 19.57 which I was very pleased with, was going to be all about how much time I would lose second half but 41 seemed do-able unless I totally collapsed, which was a worry. Marcus went passed me as the front runners passed us on the out and back, and at 6 k as we turned I was on his shoulder, Emma right on mine, Jim just behind her, and Stuart not far behind him. Great MAC racing. I was waiting for Marcus to go away and he never really did. A few times he pulled maybe 20 – 50 metes away, but I was able to pull back, and as we got to 8k I was still behind him as my legs turned to jelly. I thought they would so it was all about digging in. Marcus pulled a gap on me here, but surprisingly I got back in touch with 1 k to go

and just after this there is a wee hill up to the road. I ran up hard and started to close the gap right up.


In my favourite position with 800 to go. Clare Hughes was also just ahead. This time last year I would have took it from here and sprinted hard. This time at 500 to go I was on Marcus shoulder and there wasn’t much left in the tank. Maybe it’s the fear of over stretching, just maybe there wasn’t anything there anyway, or maybe as I say it wasn’t about racing today but Marcus upped the pace slightly and I didn’t/ couldn’t react. Looked at the watch, saw a sub 40 was on and ran steady but hard to the line. Over in 39.52 from the start gun, chip time would have been about 4 or 5 seconds faster. And delighted! Did so much better than I could have dreamed off before hand. A sub 40 in my first 10k of the year after the injuries I’ve had? Boom. My MAC Colleagues excelled themselves. No shame in being behind Marcus and Clare who had both PBed. Craig, Mark P and Cammy had all PBed under 35. Jim smashed his, and so it went throughout the field. I had my regrets last night about not racing at the end, but THAT is progress that I can even be thinking that way. I am back in the game. Now less than 1 minute off my best from last year. I’m getting fitter, faster, the strength will come. It’s time to look forward, ignore the last 5 – 6 months and battle myself again. I may not get any PBs this year, but I am up for the challenge of getting close. It’s great to be back. I missed that buzz 🙂 Later blogpeeps.


Thank you Louise Hetherington, Colin Stephen and Ewen Cameron for the photos.


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