Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Southside Six and marathon training begins!

Sunday 30th October, the first year of the epic Southside Six race.  16 miles around the south side of Glasgow taking in 6 parks.  I arrived early as always for registration and to find a good parking spot!  The weather was ideal for a nice long run, although it has been raining in the lead up to the weekend which was going to mean some muddy sections along the route, good fun!

I met up with John and Moira accompanied by Andrew Jeske for support and to take a few photographs!  Andrew won jogscotland's jog leader of the year award at their annual conference the night before so was good to be able to say my congratulations to him!  Well done Andrew, well deserved!

After we all collected our race numbers and finished fighting with the safety pins we stopped for a quick photo by Gillian Scott of

photo by Gillian Scott 

We headed up to the start at the flagpole in Queen's Park for a pre-race briefing before our walk down to the start line.  The race director finished his brief by saying 'hopefully see you all back here in a couple of hours' was a thought! 

It was a good turnout for the first year of this race with about 220 runners taking part.  It was 11am and the race began.  We went out a bit quick but soon found our pace in the first few miles.  It was a hilly start heading up to Kings Park.  The open road's added an element to the race that I wasn't used to.  The busy roads of Glasgow proved to be a bit harder to cross than those of my quiet home town of Stonehouse.  We made it to Kings Park in one piece and got our first sticker on our race number along with some water and wine gums!  We had some cheers and support from Ian Gouldie who was pursuing on his bike.

The next park we hit was Lynn Park after a short 3km stretch, again collecting our stickers and sweeties!  I was then beginning to focus on the wine gums rather than the race!

Next stop was Rouken Glen Park, the highest point of the race.  We headed out to Nethervale Avenue and up to Clarkston Toll.  I was looking forward to getting into Rouken Glen as it is my favourite of the six parks. Running along Davieland Road we entered the park.  Running past the waterfall in the park, which was in full flow, I was really enjoying the run at this point.  We left Rouken Glen park with a spring in our step.

Reaching Pollok Park next this is were the fun begins!  Entering at the Pollokshaws Bowling Club we found ourself on a slippery, muddy and narrow trail path.  A few of the runners up ahead had slowed down to a walk while I tried to keep some sort of pace.  Moira re-enforced at this point that I would make a terrible cross country runner, worrying more about the mud on my shoes than my pace.  I didn't really recognise any of this area of Pollok Park, we left the park passing a rugby club.  I was glad that Pollok Park was out of the way as I often relate it to hills hills hills but it was a fairly flat section of the run.

Next stop was Bellahouston park and familiar ground as I had ran the roads leading into it and around it for the MHFS 10K earlier this year.  Someone with a sense of humour included the steep climbing stairs up to the monument as part of the route, very difficult after the 11-12 miles we had covered at this point.

The mood lifted soon after leaving Bellahouston park and we began to talk about the short distance left.  'It's only a parkrun (5k) to go'.  As we headed back to Queen's park the crowds began to grow and the cheering kept us going.  We entered the park and ran up a scenic path lined with autumn tree's.  These scenes were overcast with what seemed to be an never ending stretch of stairs.  It felt as though I was running forever up those stairs!  But once I reached the top a few encouraging words from some finishers of the race told me that I ran strong all the way up them.  This gave me the boost I needed as I felt as though I had left my legs at the bottom of the stairs and I crawled up them.  Gillian Scott was perched at the top taking photo's, she always seems to find the perfect spot after the hardest section of races!  I posed for a quick snap before heading to the finish line.

Once at the top of the stairs and on the home stretch I took in the strong line of spectators and finishers cheering us on.  I looked back for Moira and John who were just behind.  I shouted some cheers of encouragement and Moira soon joined me to cross the finish line.  John was a wee bit further behind helping a fellow runner by giving some encouragement as she was struggling after the stairs.  We crossed the finish line in 2 hours 26 minutes 33 seconds.

Heading back to the registration area there was a great spread on with soup, rolls, cakes, baking and banana's!  This really was the icing on the cake! A great race, excellent company and support.  The race has to be one of the best road races of the year and all for £5.  We hadn't even got back to the car and John was already talking about beating his time in next years Southside Six!  

There was just one last thing, a bit of home-baking back at the car before heading home.  The chocolate brownie's hit the spot!

I would highly recommend this race to fellow runners.  Its a great distance if you are looking to take a step up from the half-marathon.  The route is perfect and the parks really break up the run.  I think its going to be even more popular next year so keep an eye open for for registration!

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