Neil McCover Kirkintilloch Half Marathon: October 7th


Kirkintilloch Olympians put on 4 races per year. First there is their uber-hilly 12.5k. Then it’s the canal hugging 10k followed by the loch-loving 5k. For their 4th race it is in to the countryside for the undulating half marathon.

Race day in 2012 was what can only be described as a runner’s dream. The air was clear, the temperature perfect and the sun was shining in all its autumnal glory. If the race organisers could control the weather then this is what they would have ordered.

Four of us joined a field of nearly 300 to take part; there was me, Darren Russell, Barry Mowat and Alison Hutton. All of us have done plenty half marathons but we were all taking part in the Kirkintilloch variation for the first time. Each of us went into the race in different stages of fitness and training and had our own expectations.

For me, I was hoping to break 90 mins for the first time having shaved 5 mins off of my half PB in Alloa earlier in the year. My PB stood at 1:31.40. However, my training had been geared up to the Glen Ogle 33 and only 2 weeks earlier I had run a marathon. It remained to be seen as to whether I could get round in the time I wanted.

Registration was seamless at the local leisure centre which left plenty time for a quick warm-up before heading down to the start line a few hundred yards away. This would also be the finish line. The starting process was a bit curious. We were brought over the chip mat then stood for about a minute before getting off and into the first of many little inclines in the course.

The course itself swept of Kirkintilloch’s centre toward Waterside before eventually looping back and out into the back roads at the foot of the Campsie Hills. The gorgeous weather and country roads made for a very aesthetically pleasing route. Knowing the Campsies as I do on another day fog, low cloud or rain (or all three) could have made the visibility poor and the course mentally tougher. It didn’t and for that I am grateful. It is a stunning vista as you run alongside the Campsies through Milton of Campsie and round towards Torrance. The one surprise was the hills – there are lots of them. Aside from one of out Torrance towards Bishopbriggs they are all actually manageable but they are constant. Up and down, down and up. I enjoy hills and judging by my time and those of my wee group of four, who all exceeded pre-race expectations, so did they.

Here is a garmin view of the undulations:

I managed to sneak home in 1:26.10 (or 1:26.16 according to the website) and thus killing my PB by over 5 more minutes. Overall this means I have taken 10 mins off the half marathon PB I brought into 2012. For that I am delighted.

My watch measured the course at just under 13 miles (12.96 to be precise). Whilst this would have still meant sub 1:27 for me I found it a tad curious but the route had so many twists and turns it would be possible to shave a small bit of distance off over 13 miles by taking the racing line I am sure.

Overall, at £17 this is one of the best value and organised races out there over this distance. The goody bag included water, crisps, chocolate and a fantastic black and yellow technical t-shirt that will see some action over the winter months ahead.

Garmin profile for the race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/231110391

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