Loaded Gun – the Tilli 10k 2019 and finishing the year with a smile

So the year has pretty much come to a close now. I haven’t blogged for a wee while for a number of reasons. Firstly I hadn’t done anything of note and with the blog being as fresh as a loaf that’s been in a Lochgelly breadbin since April, as we approach the roaring 2020s there isn’t really much else to say of any interest to any of you anyway. It’s only right to finish off the year though to be fair so that’s what I will do, and you can stick along until then, fair’s fair eh? Then maybe we will decide.

Where was I? Aye that’s right, my last race was the Strathaven 10k at the start of November and I had taken the plunge and decided that while I am running well for me then I would have one last go at a marathon and chase the sub 3 so entered Manchester. Since then it’s been all about trying to get my miles up a bit to get a base down before the training starts in earnest. 12 minutes a lot to take off but all I can do is get in the best shape I can and hope that on the day I get the luck that I’ll need.

I was then honoured to receive the award for Motherwell Athletics Club’s Most Improved Athlete of the Year. I joined the club in 2014 and have worked hard ever since, improving each year, so to have received this in 2019, 5 years on and at the age of 48 when I see so many others in the club having a great year and making massive improvements really is an honour and brings home to me how fortunate I have been this year where so much clicked into place. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me, ran with me, ran against me, insulted me and ignored me this year as they are all integral parts of the puzzle, the wee oddly shaped pieces that make up the even odder shaped Marko jigsaw which thankfully isn’t for sale on Amazon. No I have no idea what I am talking about either but thanks anyway.


Anyway slowed things down as I needed to, I was knackered. Paced at parkrun. Did club xmas time trial and wasn’t last. Off the pace but not as bad as I had feared.


Post time trial with the #4HM

Did Oriam parkrun which was a new one to me. An interesting hilly trail one with single file bits. Yep we went when it was pouring and I got stuck behind people but it got the running with people fog lifted from my head, because I had started stressing about that again.

Only just scraped under 20 but you have to start somewhere.

Strathclyde parkrun the next week and tried upping the pace again and finished well, just nipping under 18 which was pleasing but still being bossed by Smiling Robert Gilroy who was jogging round while listening to Whitney Houston on his Walkman.

He believes the children are our future, probably.


So that left me with the Tilli 10k. I had entered earlier in the year when running well and I know that I am nowhere near that level just now. I was in the pre race preview which was funny but really nice for a wee baldy no-one like me.


Having just sneaked under 18 at 5k then a sub 36k was never going to be realistic so the aim was to try and get under 37 which wouldn’t be easy but basically just to see where I was and give myself a marker, and not get carried away with the racing going on around me.

Sometimes you have to accept where you are, where you have been and where you are trying to get to.

Now I won’t lie, in the week before it I was dreading it and didn’t want to run it, but I got there on the day and felt ok. The conditions were kind for what is essentially a pretty flat out and back along the Devon Way with a wee loop at Dollar to keep momentum going but a gobsmacking start and finish with a sharp dogleg and crazy pot hole section. A shame that, the start and finish being the only thing that took away from what was a fantastic day and event. Genuinely a fantastic race that I will be back to, PH Racing should be proud of the event they put on. Good to catch up with a load of people and you do miss them when not racing, even the ones that are madder than a sackful of teletubbies and don’t just cross the boundaries of banter and arrogance but triple jump over them wearing springs (aye Speirsy it IS you, but you know that :)). Good contingent of Team Baldies and those getting that way. Wee chats with others I hadn’t spoken to before that had their own hair.

Ah the magic of Xmas, and we were off.

Over 300 of us at the tight start, away fast. Dancing through the pot holes and round the dogleg to get onto the Devon Way proper. The video here shows the start (this was also the finish section).

All about keeping out of trouble that first bit but job done, first k done now, let’s see what I can do. Speirsy and Scott from Killie dancing away in the distance, but that’s ok. I was in a wee group with some Aberdeen runners – Dino I had been just ahead of at the Goodwin, Claire had narrowly beaten me at the Tom Scott, the massively improved Al Aitken of Lothian who was having a superb year and PHs Andy Jannetta who was surely going to smash his PB today having been solid all year from a mile up to Ultras. Aye in good company so all good, if I could keep in here for a while I would be happy. Just didn’t quite feel right though and it was no surprise when Claire and Dino went off the front at 3k and I had nothing there to go with them. Dino turned the screw here and built up a good wee gap. At least it took the top 3 age group pressure away as I now knew three good runners were away ahead with Gordon Barrie and Graeme Doig in a different post code already and I wasn’t going to be caught up in that.

Thanks Paul Keiran for this video at around the 3k point . I am in this at about 2.20 and you can see the toil as everyone runs away.

Aye Dino well away but eventually I managed to catch back onto Claire and for the next 3 or 4k we would play cat and mouse having gone through 5k in somewhere around the 18.20s. I pepped up here, as I felt OK and was well on schedule for a sub 37.


Got the loop out the way, and the far end trail section, then was time to head for home. The gap in front of us was sizeable but we had a good wee race against each other until the wee climb at about 3k to go where I felt decent enough to start pushing on. From then on I felt decent, a bit like my old self and started reeling in a few runners, having a good wee race with Ben from Fife and Niall who had taken the V40 honours at Cumbernauld running under 35 in the process. Dino and Speirsy I could see ahead but was never going to catch them but was more than happy with how I was finishing. 36.30 now a realistic aim, I was pulling away from the people behind me, and most importantly I was buzzing and enjoying it. In my head I am thinking that even though I am below par, I am going to run about 36.30 whereas my PB coming into the year was 37.46. The dander back up, through the dog leg, skipping through the potholes and sprinted to the line to finish in 36.15.


Very pleased with that one, it’s not always about the PBs. Aye it’s over 40 seconds outside my best but that was when I had peaked and had planned my peak, this one is when I have just really started training again so a really good marker. My last 5k faster than my 5k the week before so I am already making improvements again. As I suspected I was 4th V45 but at the age of 48 was nice to only have one V40 ahead and be ahead of the V50s. Counts for nothing obviously, except satisfaction in your head that you are doing OK, and that can’t be underestimated.

So that’s it, the year that was. I have a 3000m at the Emirates to start 2020 indoors before the marathon takes over and having won race 1 with a 10.30 pacer in 2019, 2020 sees me in race 3 with a 9.45 pacer. Of course I could be last, and looking at the field there really is a right good chance of that, but I have worked hard to get into a race with runners of that calibre, so one must suck it up and try and enjoy.

A big thanks to everyone who has read this blog over the last year. It’s been a pleasure talking to you at races, online, whatever. People ask me why I put myself out there and simply if I hadn’t all those years ago then I have no doubt I wouldn’t still be running. All the best to all of you for 2020 and I am sure my wee baldy heid will raise itself again.  It’s been fun being part of the Balega team, they really are the best socks in the business  🙂


Here’s the song, Loaded Gun by Jack Penate. He went away for 10 years then came back, did things differently and no one really noticed. Well I did Jack, cheers for the music.


Thanks Gordon Donnachie, Joe Hoolaghan, Elaine Gallacher, Karen Thomson, Strathclyde parkrun, me and G-Bax photography for the pics.

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