Sunday 21 May 2023

Club Champs update 21 May 2023

Phew its been a fast and furious start to this years club champs.  We are already 4 races in and the leader board is starting to take shape.  Club stalwart Mike McGovern has struck out on early lead (75 points) running 3 of the 4 races so far and hitting podiums in all of them.

Dean second on 45 points then Martin Holt and Tim Warner 3rd on 35 points.

PositionRaceTOTAL PointsGypsy GlenPenicuik 10kStag to Hynd Race MoffatWobbly BridgeRigg Race (Balerno)
Mike McGovern75101010
Dean Carr451010
Martin Holt351010
Tim Warner3510
Daniel Lavin301010
Gillian Carr3010
Nick Boyd2510
Milan Misak2510
Carol Moss2510
Dianna Challands20
Jen Misak2010
Coreen McGovern1510
Kerry Law1510
Mike Pearson10
Peter Caddick1010
Ian Munro1010
Sarah Burthe1010
Brian Smith1010
Pete Hall5
Hamish Parkinson5
Alan Elder5
Martin Quirke5
Margaret Oliver5
Vicky Morrison0


Next race is the Balerno Rigg race on the 29th May (week on Monday)  Its a good 6 mile road race on quiet roads up round the resevoirs. 

Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon - Sunday 14th May 2023

When I saw that there was to be a marathon in Rob Burrow’s name in Leeds to raise awareness of his battle with MND, it was a definite Yes for me. Despite saying I’d never run another marathon after my last one in Harris in 2019, this one would be special. 

I knew I’d never better my time and get near that elusive 3 hour mark, so that would take the pressure off, right? That was April 2022, giving me over a year to get used to the idea!


Despite the amount of running I do, I never really specifically train for a race. A marathon though is a whole different ball game! You need to respect a marathon, it’s not a wing it kind of thing, and definitely not something you can just turn up on the day and hope for the best! 

With other marathons I’ve done (Edinburgh, London, Dublin & Harris) I’ve followed the same 16 week training plan religiously. So on 23 January in the cold dark winter I started my regime of intervals, tempo runs, short fast runs, medium slow runs & long Sunday runs, allowing myself 2 days off a week. I’d forgotten how marathon training takes over your life, fitting in runs before work, during lunch breaks, or after work and entire Sundays -  having to get up early enough to eat breakfast then run about 3 hours, then spend the rest of the day in a heap! 

I made the most of the Tweed cycle path and got to know every mile marker, incline, lump & bump. It is a beautiful route along the river Tweed, and seeing it change through the seasons meant there was always something different to see. It also made the perfect Sunday run option, increasing the distance by a couple of miles each week up to the 20 mile mark. I enjoyed running along and having arranged to meet my Mum, Dean and running friends in Loulabelles cafe at a certain time meant I had to stick to my timings. A great post-run breakfast & bus back became the typical Sunday!    

For a bit of variety I also enjoyed some great Edinburgh runs taking in the coast along past Portobello & Musselburgh, Holyrood Park, the Meadows, and Blackford & Braid hills.    

I squeezed in a couple of races as part of my training, always good as a gauge to see if the training is going to plan. The 2 races I did were the most unlike a road race - a 12 mile trail race in the lake District and the Balmoral 10k, however I felt strong in both, giving me the boost I needed. 

All was going well until about week 12 when I started to get a few niggles in my calf resulting in me having to cut short a couple of runs including my planned 22 mile run after 13 miles and get the bus home! 

Getting an injury at this stage was a real blow, with 4 weeks to go this wasn’t what I wanted! 

This did set me back a bit, doubts crept in and I started to worry that I wouldn’t make the start line, or I’d have to stop half way through.

I’d been going for a regular sports massage, so on my next visit I got my calf taped up, and was advised to rest, apply ice, & take it easy & just do some short runs, some gentle stretching & strengthening exercises, and was reassured that I could still do it. 

Everyone kept telling me I’d done the long miles and that my good training would see me through, I just had to convince myself ! 

So, with my leg taped up and doing as I was told I spent the next few weeks doing short 4 - 5 mile runs, icing my leg every night, stretching every morning, and crossing my fingers! 

I set up my charity page, and that was it I was committed! 

The week of the race came round and tapering and carb-loading was a joy as I didn’t feel bad about missing miles! 

Race prep

We headed down to Leeds on the Saturday with friends Nick & Susan (who was also running the marathon). 

As we approached Leeds we came across the mile markers and saw a very long hill ahead of us! 3 miles of uphill from mile 17 - 20 just when you don’t want it!! Thankfully we also saw that after mile 20 it was (mainly) downhill to the finish. 

We had a lovely Italian meal as a last bit of carb loading & drank LOTS of water as the forecast was warm & sunny! We then went to check out the start area at the Leeds Headingley stadium, good to familiarise ourselves with the bag drop, the toilets & start zones, so we didn’t panic so much in the morning! 

The stadium was impressive and reinforced the importance of this event, and what Rob Burrow means to the people of Leeds with huge murals of the rugby league players &  #RunForRob, #RunForAMateWithAMate signs around the streets

Before bed I laid out my running kit, number pinned on, water, gels, suncream, watch charged & hoped for a good sleep. 

Race Day 

We woke to perfect running conditions - a thick haar meaning you couldn’t even see across the street. This wasn’t to last! 

We headed down to the start about 7:30 giving plenty of time to drop our bags and make the 100 or so trips to the loo ! Susan and I gathered in our starting zone, nervously shuffling back from the 3:00 and 3:15 pacers. The atmosphere was amazing, everyone excited to be there and just wanting to get going! 

One of the great things about marathons is that they attract all sorts from the super athletes at the front to the folk dressed as Superheroes, bananaman, Rhinos, firemen in full kit, tutus, all sorts! Beside us was a guy planning to juggle all the way round - aiming for 3:05! We chatted to a couple of Welshmen, one of whom was doing this as his 85th marathon with the aim of his 100th at Snowdon in October. Amazing! 

Just before the start, the Announcer told us that Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow & his wife Lindsey were coming to the start line. They made their way through the throngs of runners to a deafening applause, and gave us the motivation we needed. Kevin told us “it will be tough, it’s meant to be!” and “if we see someone struggling, put an arm round them and make sure they’re ok” . It brought a lump to the throat and reminded us all why we were there. Then with no more time for nerves, we just had to run. 

The route started heading south towards Leeds City centre through streets packed with thousands of people all cheering you on, choirs singing, bands playing, it was quite overwhelming and made the first few miles fly by! 

My plan was to “take it easy and not push the calf muscles” , “don’t be under 8 min mile pace”. I looked at my watch and seeing sub 8 I reminded myself to slow down, but I felt comfortable so just kept going feeling quite relaxed. 

The first 15 miles or so went comfortably. The heat was rising, but seeking the shade and taking on water at every 3 mile water station I felt hydrated enough. 

Those 3 mile water markers gave me something to aim for as I went along and as it became hotter & hillier they definitely helped give a focus. I’m not one for taking gels, but found a sip of a gel and a drink every 3 miles as well as the rest of the bottle over the head seemed to work.  

A nice switch back at about mile 15 allowed Susan and I to pass and high-5 each other. Nice to see a familiar face 🙂 and spurred us both on.

A lot of people  like wearing earbuds while running, it doesn’t work for me, I’d rather hear what’s going on and take it all in. The banter from the Leeds crowds was the best! 

I heard a few things that made me smile - 

“This is really tough going  (looking out for people)” 

“Not far now” (at 5 miles)

“Ay up lass”, “downhill all the way now” , “You’re smashing this “ 

Having your name on your vest works wonders, with people shouting your name it really gives you a boost when you need it! 

The signs people had made were fantastic too - 

Super Mario “Tap here to Power Up” signs were a favourite and I tried to tap whenever I could! 

“Pain is just French for bread” seemed to be a popular one too, 

plus I did see -

“Don’t trust a fart after mile 17” which made me laugh!

Children lining up for High-5’s, people offering oranges & jelly babies, and providing refreshing showers from garden sprinklers  all helped keep us going. 

When the going gets tough …

The village of Otley was the furthest point of the course and definitely the loudest! This was also where the hills began! By the time I got through Otley, my legs were really starting to ache. The quads were like lead & so tight, and the hill just kept going on & on! The views across the Yorkshire Dales would be lovely any other day, but today wasn’t the day to appreciate them! I thought about stopping to stretch the legs at one point, but thought if I stopped I’d struggle to get going again. I heard my Dad say “grit your teeth” so I just put my head down and took it slowly in tiny steps. 

When I reached the 20 mile mark I knew the worst of the hills were over, and only 6 miles to go - 10k - 2 parkruns - another hour ? Easy!?? 

That was the toughest 6 miles, but knowing I was getting closer to Headingley & the finish helped! 

On this stretch I saw this girl holding a sign saying “You can do this! You WILL be at the finish line” She gave me the best smile, and I knew then I’d get there. 

The end is in sight

The streets leading to Headingley were thronged. The 3:30 Pacer went past me and at that point it didn’t matter, the time was irrelevant, I’d get to the end and that was what mattered. 

It’s always amazing that despite thinking you’ve given your all, when the finish line is in sight  you can always muster a final push! Crossing the line inside the Leeds Rhinos Stadium with the noise of the cheers from the hundreds of supporters in the stands was the most amazing feeling! 

The reward of a chunky medal presented by the Leeds Rhinos players, a Finishers T-shirt and the perfect goodie bag containing a pack of crisps, Mars bar & well earned can of (alcohol-free) lager. 

Scared to sit or lie down incase I never got up again I met Dean in the crowd, and by use of the very impressive GPS App we were able to see our friends cross the line in the Stadium, and of course await Kevin & Rob arrive. At this point the whole stadium erupted as Kevin carried his mate Rob across the finish line. Emotional stuff indeed! 

15,000 runners took part in the Half & Marathon that day, many 1st time marathon runners, the first finishers getting round in about 2 and a half hours, some determined souls still going at 5pm that evening. 100,000 spectators lined the streets to watch & cheer and £4 million was raised for MND and other charities. 

I met the 2 Welsh guys again at the end, they’d had good runs and were now another marathon closer to their 100th at Snowdon. The Juggling man got round in 3:09!!

It was the toughest run I’ve done. The heat and the hills really took it out of me and it hurt! But without a doubt, it was the best running experience I’ve had, being part of that crowd all there for a very special reason.  

I was pleased I’d got round with slightly injured legs, in a time I was happy with. I’m also pleased to have done it and to not have to run miles every week now. Think I’ll have a rest from marathons for a while! 

Thanks for all your support and encouragement.


Friday 12 May 2023

Club Champs 2023 Week 1 (and a bit)

 After the first race and weekend of the champs Mike McGovern holds top stop after running and coming 3rd Vet at Gypsy Glen:

PositionRaceTOTAL PointsGypsy Glen
Mike McGovern1510
Daniel Lavin1010
Dean Carr1010
Martin Holt1010
Tim Warner10
Jen Misak10
Milan Misak5
Mike Pearson5
Coreen McGovern5
Dianna Challands5
Pete Hall5
Hamish Parkinson5
Alan Elder5
Kerry Law5
Mike Pearson5
Martin Quirke5
Margaret Oliver5

Quite a bit of racing to happen this weekend so expect to see the leader board to change.