We’re off to Glasgow but no Blind Dave team bus this weekend. Instead we board the 11.24am train from Sandwell and Dudley direct to Glasgow Central station and after about 4 hours we get to our hotel mid-afternoon, just in time for the Premier League football games starting.
My daughter Georgie was keeping me up to date during the train ride as she was at the West Brom match. It was a pleasant surprise to receive a text telling me the Baggies were two up against Watford, in what turned out to be a rather short lived victory!
Checking into the hotel, it was getting on towards full time and we were still two one up! Keeping an ear on the TV my mind wandered to the following morning, imagining how nice it would be to greet David Hart from the Great Run team, with a smile and mention of our win over his team Watford!
The lads were continually winding me up saying they had equalised but I wasn’t having any of it. Tony said if Watford score, I had to buy breakfast the next morning, which I readily agreed to thinking we were safe! But with seconds to go, disaster struck, Watford equalised and three points slipped away along with my smile!
With the lad’s laughter following me out of the room we set off to meet up with Jay, a Glaswegian blind runner, in what I’m told is the oldest pub in Glasgow, the Scotia Bar. I allowed myself one Guinness to drown my sorrows, had to be sensible with a double run the following morning.
Leaving the pub we had a little walk around George Square, hearing and listening to the city revellers, having a few landmarks described to me, one being the Duke of Wellington sitting upon his horse. While standing in the square we were approached by a man named Martin from Kendall, in Glasgow for the weekend but originally from our neck of the woods. Seeing the Baggies badge on our jackets, he very kindly gave us £10 for the Albion Foundation.
Sunday morning dawned, bringing with it October, a 10k and half marathon to complete and a forecast of heavy rain! The start line in George Square was only a two minute walk from the hotel, where we met up with the Great Run team and a very happy David Hart!
Luckily the rain hadn’t made an appearance yet, so after an interview with David Murray for the BBC coverage, we took our place on the start line for the first event of the day, the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run10k.
The hooter sounded and we were off. With Garry guiding me he very kindly reminded me of the hill straight in front of us, St. Vincent’s Street. Believe me, I needed no reminding! If you were cold at the bottom of this hill, your heart rate and the body heat was certainly up to temperature at the top!
Over the top we went and with a swing to the left we were confronted by a load of parents with kids giving high fives. It’s great to hear the laughter from the kids, we gave them a loud oggy oggy oggy and the response was tremendous.
We ran on, the lads saying there wasn’t much to describe in the way of sights as we were passing more of an industrial area. We seemed to cross over the river Clyde many times and that word undulating came into play more than once, I’d be more inclined to say hilly!
At one point fairly early on in the run I must admit to being a bit un-nerved. I could hear the sounds of traffic, lots of traffic, and it turned out we were running alongside the slip road of the M8 and M77. It didn’t stop Garry trying to tell me we were actually on the motorway!
What was a nice touch was the bagpipers playing at every kilometre. The finish line at Glasgow Green seemed to come very quickly and we were happy to have the 10k and run number 19 under our belts.
We collected our finisher’s packs, had a few photos then made our way from the finish and back to George Square for the start of the half marathon. With the crowds building it took us around 15 minutes to walk, the rain just starting to fall lightly. We dropped our finisher’s packs off at our hotel reception and found the start area marquee just as the rain turned heavy.
The wheelchair contestants set off first, then the white wave runners were sent on their way. Finally it was our turn, the hooter sounded and St Vincent Street loomed large in front of us again. It certainly wasn’t any easier the second time around and by now, the heavy rain seemed to be in for the day.
Reaching the top this time I thought there was a disco blaring out, but it turned out to be a simply fantastic lady’s choir. We could have listened to them all day, but we had the small matter of some 13 miles to run!
We followed the 10k route for about four miles then branched off towards a park, with the bagpipers this time marking every mile we covered. By now the rain was bad, the wind had got up slightly and our pace was a bit quicker so Tony, guiding me, found it better to keep an eye on Garry slightly ahead of us.
Even though our muscles were getting cold and our concentration levels were up, we still had the chance to chat to other runners. We passed Neil from St Andrew’s, another blind runner, and after comparing guide dogs we pushed on.
At about 8 miles in, being cold and wet, Tony told me it was one of those runs where he was desperate to see the finish as he was beginning to get fed up. Knowing those words of old, that means mischief could be on the horizon!
It was about this time that if felt like my feet were getting extremely wetter, through puddle after puddle. It seemed like I was running in the Clyde! Tony confirmed we were on a long stretch of road which housed the water like a stream for about a hundred yards, I was running in water up to my ankles. Was Tony as wet? No, he said he could see the water so why would he run in it!
So that was his game to stop him getting bored. How many puddles (or streams in this case) could he make a blind man run through! A few choice words from me and a good laugh about his mischief certainly helped us along.
The rain got heavier, the puddles deeper, the laughter harder, we started running alongside Garry again and it was pleasing to hear them tell me they could see the finish line. I was literally wet from head to toe but our spirits were high as we had now finished run number 20.
After we had our photos taken, another interview with David Murray of the BBC and collected our second finisher’s packs of the day, we left Glasgow Green for the last time, sloshing our way back to the hotel to warm up with a hot shower and a hot cuppa, before heading to the station.
Glasgow Central housed a nice bar so after a couple of celebratory beers and some good food I met up with a radio pal, Simon from RNIB radio. I have done a radio blog with him for the past 10 years but this is the first time in as many years we’ve actually had the chance to have a beer together. After chatting with Simon for the past year about the latest challenge it was nice for him and the lads to actually meet and put faces to names.
All too soon it was time to go and catch our train to complete the last leg of our 500 miles round trip. It was so satisfying to have a soft seat for four hours instead of pounding our feet. Another great weekend, with runs 19 and 20 completed, I relaxed and closed my eyes with exciting but frightening thoughts of the next runs in my head.
Birmingham here we come, there’s a marathon and half marathon start line waiting for us!
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