Report by John Liddle
Race Date: 22nd July 2023
The organisers of this event, always plan for it to be run on one of the weekends which parkrun does not take place in Hillsborough Park which I have always thought to be very good of them ! It is a long way and as per last year, involved a car (5 hr journey), overnight hotel, train (3 hr journey) and finally a ferry from Oban (roughly 1 hr) just to reach the start line.
However, it’s a lovely scenic location and the friendly locals really put on an effort to make an occasion of it. Last year, I was recovering from a chest infection and had been on anti-biotics the week leading up to the race and combined with a Saturday morning parkrun, struggled from 5/6 miles in. This year I was determined to do better !
The registration takes place conveniently next to the ferry terminal in Craignure and whilst the 10k runners which takes place at the same time, are bussed to their start point further down the road, the half marathon runners wander a mile or so to the Sports Centre for the starting line – the race starts at 1:30pm. The route goes back towards the ferry terminal before a short climb, doubling back to then follow the coast road all the way to Salen. It is fairly flat, with just the occasional climb (nothing compared to Sheffield !) – great scenery on both sides of the road and whilst in Sheffield it was torrential rain, the weather gods provided for very pleasant running conditions.
I tried to maintain my pace throughout the run and was pleased as the miles ticked off, I managed to reel in some of those who went out fast. The mileage markers to me proved an interesting thinking point as the race progressed. As each mile went past, the next one was placed closer still…..I think I reached the 11 mile marker having completed 10 ¼ miles – they then must have realised as the 12 mile marker was correctly placed ! Water, sponges and even oranges were available from 4 stations throughout the race.
The finish point in Salen, is opposite a pub who are also the main sponsor of the race. Almost anything & everything is freely available fruit, water, & chocolate bar wise when you finish, alongside a little medal (you also received a t-shirt upon registration). The pub provided a tasty pint of beer which after I’d finished over 20 minutes faster than last year, thought was well deserved.
I caught a complementary bus which shuttled you back to the ferry terminal for the start of the return journey – getting home in the early hours. It is a long way and probably I should have made a short-break out of it, one year I’ll do it properly !
119 runners took part.
First male & winner:-
John Fergusson East Kilbride AC 1:13:11
(It does appear from the results to have been a close race. Only 17 seconds separated the first 2 home with a 13 minute gap to the 3rd placed runner)
Jessica Watson Unattached 1:29:50
34th John Liddle 1:47:45
Link to full results here.