I was thinking of doing Glasgow’s hardest parkrun for the first time but I received a number of messages on the evening of Friday, 25th November, indicating that because of the sub-zero temperatures the local parkruns would be subject to inspections at 8:30am. I checked Drumchapel parkrun’s facebook page on Saturday morning and it was cancelled. The gym was looking as if it might be the place for me, but then I received information advising me that the Pollok and Victoria events would be on. With the clock counting, I got myself and Jack ready and drove along to Pollok Country Park.
The uncertainty and, no doubt, the cold weather had made an impact on the numbers and the car park was quieter than usual. After a short warm up, we joined the assembled ranks at the start line. It was good to have a quick catch-up with Jacqui Thomson and Stuart Ainslie both of which I hadn’t seen for a while.
With little ado, we were sent on our way around the two lap, undulating course. There were only 213 of us, less than half of the usual numbers and the smallest field since 30th Jan 2016. My mind is focussed on a Half Marathon that I’m doing next month, so I just wanted a good steady outing.
It was the usual mad dash of runners down the hill and then once we turned left the field begins to settle down. Claire McCormick overtook me and commented ‘you’ll catch me at the hill’. Another left turn into the narrow path through the woods and I overtook her and Stephen O’Neil just before the first hill.
As the path opened up and the incline decreased I could see Claire Thompson and the other fast runners in the distance, having already opened up a gap on the rest of us in the first kilometre. Jacqui had chosen a more conservative start and she overtook us as we approached the duck pond and soon left us chasing her tail. I could just about see Stuart though and with the encouragement of Neil Nairn, on marshal duties, I set off with the intent of finishing as close to Stuart as possible. I was a bit surprised to catch him around the halfway point and shot off down the hill and around the corners, trying to establish a lead on him. Carol Keenan shouted encouragement to both Jack and I and Craig Brown, marshalling, did likewise but Jack had other priorities and tried to pull into the bushes on our right. A quick shout of ‘Jack’ encouraged him to keep going but not for long as he disappeared into the woods to answer the call of nature. With his business suitably bagged, we rejoined the field.
There was a touch of déjà vu as we caught Claire and then Stephen but Stuart was way in front. We turned left into the other narrow section and the 4k point and worked hard, making our way past the other runners. On the last hill I could see Stuart and hear him puffing as he gave it his all to hold me off but I passed him to the sound of ‘you’ve got me’. There was still work to be done though and we reached the top of the hill and ran down towards the final wee brae and then the last 200m downhill section. The field was sparse with only Dundee University’s Katie Ireland in sight, we closed the gap on her a bit but the 20-24-year-old still managed to cross the line five seconds in front of us, in a time of 21:38. There was even more déjà vu as I was handed token number 33, I placed 32nd in my last outing and 33rd the one before that. Until these performances, my average mean position had been around 100th. I had also beaten Stuart for the first time in over four years. He placed 39th in 21:55.
After the usual post race chatting, I joined the others for a coffee and scone in a chilly Pollok House basement, unfortunately, the boiler had packed in but the coffee and conversation helped to warm me up.
On his 50th parkrun, Ian Carrol placed first, crossing the line in 17:06, just one second off of his PB. Cambuslang’s Colin Reilly placed second with a PB of 17:12 and Bellahouston Harrier, Paul Clawson earned third with 18:16.
In the women’s event, hot favourite Claire Thompson took gold with a time of 19:49, ahead of her Victoria Park/CoG club-mate Jacqui Thomson (20:29) and Katie Ireland (21:38).
Many thanks to my fellow runners and all the volunteers who braved the cold conditions to ensure that we got our Saturday morning parkrun.