Alsation Cousin – The Vale of Leven 10K

Disclaimer: These are my views and not those of Motherwell AC. These are also not the views of someone who thinks they are any good. for more guff.

Now I’m not proud of myself but I ate badly this week. Really badly. Cake City. Takeaway Town. Biscuit Bay. I’ll blame my Mum for one of the days, it was her 75th birthday (all the best Reetz) but the rest was all me. And I got a cold. Just a head one, nothing to stop me running but enough to make my breathing very meh. And then I woke up on Sunday with a tight hammy. So to be 100% honest I wasn’t bothered about how I ran in this one. Wasn’t going to miss it though. The last of the Polaroid 10ks. Final of the series. The Final series. The course was to be changed and the hill was to be right at the start. Ach just a wee slope, nothing to worry about. People exaggerate it’s legend as time goes on, the same way St Mirren fans compare Mark Yardley to Pele.
It was a gorgeous morning, warmer than Helensburgh, (Booooo Helensburgh!). Caked the baldy napper in sun cream and headed over to Balloch Moss for the start after negotiating the public toilets which could easily have been used in the toilet scene in Trainspotting.


Really didn’t feel up for the race, but was looking forward to the run. Met the usual suspects from all the different clubs. The usual banter flowing, the spirit superb as we lined up for the start. I lined up a bit further back than usual as wasn’t going to get dragged into running hard up the hill in this heat, nah, a PB attempt is for another day. Get up the hill and see how I felt from there. Off we went, well boxed in in a ziggy zaggy section and basically jogging, then a small climb until we hit the main road up, yes up, the park. Sometimes Legends remind you of how good they actually are. Sorry Mark Yardley, that goal against Morton in the cup in 2002 in your twilight was worth the status alone. The hill was to follow suit. I forgot just how long it was, with a really tough section at the top.


Already my watch and the k markers were misaligned no doubt due to the zig zag nature of the course. Ach sod the time anyway. Over a k of a climb then a good section downhill. With my hammy feeling tight I didn’t batter the descent. No point. Probably a good thing, as much of ks 4 – 8 were spent going past people who had tanked it too fast under the sun…. not that I had ever done that….. I settled into a good rhythm at sub 40 pace, felt fine under the warm sun. Undulating but enjoyable course. Out alongside the River Leven then a loop and back along the path.  Through 5k in just under 20, so that would do me. I wasn’t a million miles off where I would normally have been as I was in a group containing Bella’s Calum Ferguson who I had finished just ahead of at the Scottish relays, and Carl Gullacksen who had been right behind me at Clydebank. I was letting them all do the work today to be honest and was enjoying the run under that lovely sun. On the riverside path not far ahead I could see Kilbarchan’s Ryan Waldron who has had a great series, gubbing me in every run.


Photo from about 3k by Daren Borzynski.

As it was a winding course my timings were going everywhere so had no idea what pace I was actually running. Stayed with the group and with it being the Polaroids I went past Dumbarton’s Melissa Wylie dead on 8k again who was on her way to first v40 and 3rd female. Sometimes it feels scripted, and it really wasn’t meant. There were no hard feelings and she shook my hand with kind words at the finish. Got off the path still feeling ok, and as we turned back into the park at 1k to go it was time to hit the bottom part of the hill again. Another 750 m or so of a climb as I caught up with Helensburgh’s Jason Bell. We were shoulder to shoulder going back into the turn as the hill stopped and we had a downhill section to the zig zag bit and the finish. First wee turn and I attracted the attention of a 7 ft tall Alsatian who decided running at my legs would make for a great finish. Stealthily and ninja-like I pounced over said canine, whilst lifting it into the air, putting its lead on and giving it back to it’s grateful owners. OK in reality I did that thing where you try to work out what direction the dog will go in and get it wrong and slam into it and it growls and snaps at you and you shout “f@cks sake ya couple of f@nnies” at the owners who appear to find it funny. Somehow using my hand though I avoid totally hitting the deck and steady myself. Don’t know how Jason kept his laugh in but told me one wee downhill bit and a corner and we were finished. Away he went and as we went into the final straight I saw the clock was in the early 39s. I knew I hadn’t started near the front so I kicked for home, not trying to race Jason but trying to sneak a sub 39. 

Photos Daren Borzynski 

Just pipped Jason but was pipped by the clock, but 39.03  very acceptable on a tricky course in scorching sun where I never really made myself uncomfortable.


Actually really enjoyed the run. Another quality goody bag, big drink of water and that was it, the end of the Polaroid series. 30 years finished just like that. The emotion of the occasion had made Cambuslang’s Simon Gold stop and vomit 200m from the finish. Or maybe that was the Saturday night bevy…. Come to think of it maybe that’s what the Littlest Hobo was running from when he took me out.

Got home and made my big medal out of the 4 wee ones…. and found out I had 2 Clydebank medals and no Dumbarton one… Swappsies anyone? 🙂


So this years Polaroids, the highlights. What we got?

Helensburgh, went out really hard on too hot a night and crashed with 2k to go. Don’t regret doing it and it earned me the mantle of “the most irritating runner in Scotland.” The run a fail, but the new name a win.

Clydebank, a steady and unspectacular PB. Sub 39. Pleased but felt a bit flat.

Dumbarton, mojo back, over a minute faster than last year and a sub 38.30 PB. Delighted with this one. One of the most enjoyable nights of racing I have had in a long time.

Vale of Leven. Good progress as I learn when to reign it in but still enjoy a race and adapt to the conditions.

Brilliant series. Hopefully it can be back in some shape or form, but thank you to all the organisers, volunteers, fellow runners, photographer, watching punters, everyone, even the littlest Hobo.

“Alsatian cousin” by Morrissey seems apt today. I had a quiff like his, and he has a book out about a relay team. He also fell over a dog in Balloch Park in 1985 but I believe it was a beagle.

2 thoughts on “Alsation Cousin – The Vale of Leven 10K

  1. Pingback: Karma Police – 3000m open graded and Vale of Leven 10k 2017 | markgallmac

  2. Pingback: Karma Police – 3000m open graded and Vale of Leven 10k 2017 | markgallmac

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