My First English parkrun – Winchester


Jo Jeffries

I decided to have a wee trip to the Isle of Wight and couldn’t resist the temptation of chalking up my first parkrun south of the Tweed. Jo Jeffries, who ran for Bellahouston Road Runners at the same time as me, strongly recommended that I participate in her local one in Winchester. Although the original plan was to run it with Jo, injury and having to help out at the regional XC championships put paid to that. She did however cycle along to give me a hug before the start and cheered me and Jack around our first lap of the three lap course. It was great to see her looking so well despite her injury getting her down. Most runners can empathise with that.

I had lined up at the start of the assembled 269 participant and was welcomed to the event by the run director. There were a few ‘woos’ as he reported that I had travelled from Glasgow and then we were sent on our way.

Course Description

The course is flat and fast and is run on a mix of grass and tarmac paths.

We started at the green pin, headed east alongside the treeline, crossed the path and then followed the perimeter of the northerly field in a clockwise direction. When we reached the path again, we turned left, across the bridge and then another left turn left and we followed the perimeter of the large easterly field in a clockwise direction. At the southern end of the field we turned left and followed the path.  We turned right, back across the river, and then another right turn and we headed north,back to the field adjacent to the tennis courts. A left turn and we followed the edge of the field back towards the start area and the end of the first lap of three.


With all the twists and turns, both right and left, and usually with those ahead of us in sight, it was hardly surprising that Jack wanted to take a more direct route than the one set out and I lost a good bit of tie ensuring that he kept to the course.

As well as Jo’s support, one of the marshal’s was cheering me on by shouting ‘Go Glasgow’ every time Jack and I passed by.

We could see another dog in front of us but we failed to catch Lisa Froment and her pooch and they crossed the line, in 19th place, with a time of 20:26, one minute faster than her previous PB.

We were happy enough to cross the line in 27th place, with a time of 21:02. Of course a sub 21 would have been better.

Full results here

I chatted with a couple of other runners, including Rob Fox and Julia Henderson before rewarding Jack with his usual goodies and water. As usual Jack was very popular with everyone we met and it was great that so many people made us both feel so welcome.


Alas I couldn’t stay for coffee and conversation, as I had to travel further south as there was a Red Funnel Ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight to catch. Although I only drove through So’ton to the docks, I saw a number of places that brought back happy memories of my time there in 1975, when I was a young lad of eighteen.


Happy days!



Official Sub-20 for Jack, Heathwood and Me

A last minute decision to give the expected crowds at Pollok Park, for the 400th edition of my local parkrun, saw me heading back to Linwood for the second time in five weeks. I had managed a PB of 20:08 on my last outing there, and with my improved form, I had set myself a target of achieving that elusive sub-20 minute parkrun.

I had raced below the 20 minute barrier twice before, once, a while back, at a club time trial and more recently last year at the Great Run Local Glasgow Quays. I was well aware though that neither of these performances were recognised by UK Athletics, but parkruns are.

I was expecting the numbers to be a bit lower at Linwood parkrun #14 than the 119 which had participated in event #9, as Strathclyde parkrun had been cancelled that day and quite a few of them, including a healthy turnout from Motherwell AC, had helped to swell the ranks.  I didn’t need to worry though as word of the Linwood event is spreading and some 103 took part in Saturday’s event, including some 25 first timers.


Kerry Lang

I seemed to know around half of the runners and volunteers too and had a wee chat with some of them before the 9:30 start, including Kerry Lang, the ex professional triathlete, Scottish Duathlon Champion and British Triathlon Vice Champion and Scottish Road Race (Bike) Champion who said that I should beat her today. No pressure there then. To be fair, Kerry Filliol, to use her married name, is just coming back from having her second child..

Harnessed up to my faithful hound (Jack), I lined up at the very front of the masses and Norman Groves set us on our way around the two lap course.  I was a wee bit concerned to find myself leading the pack for a while but thankfully it wasn’t too long before Dumbarton AAC’s Alan Heron and Greenock Glenpark’s Sean Marshall overtook me.  Whilst the both of them had disappeared into the distance before I reached the 1k point, they had been replaced by Bellahouston Harrier, Andrew Heathwood and David McNulty.


Andrew Heathwood checks his pace at 1k

Although the two of them also opened up a gap on me I managed to catch David in the next kilometre and kept Andrew in sight for the rest of the race. I try not to look at my Garmin during short races and so it was today. I knew that I was working damn hard didn’t think knowing my pace would help, that said, I did hope the he was checking to make sure that he was on pace for a sub-twenty.


Lap Two

I couldn’t hear anyone behind me and I was beginning to hurt but I knew that all I had to do was follow Andrew in front. My mind was playing games and I was wondering how far there was to go to the end, was it 1k or 2k, when much to my relieve i saw the 600m pole, which is about 800m from the Finish line.

I knew that every second was vital and I gave it my all and then with 300m to go, at the lap 2 turn off point, someone’s dog strayed onto the path. I didn’t have time to adjust my stride and I tripped over the little canine but somehow I managed to stay on my feet.  My pace increased from around 4min/k to just under 3min/k as I overtook Jack in the final strait and crossed the line to the cheers of the volunteers. I stopped my Garmin but my heart was pumping away ten to the dozen and my legs gave way as I collapsed onto the grass.I took a moment to calm my heart beat and to recover my breath, as Norman kindly collected my finish token. I then looked at my Garmin ….. 19:55!     You beauty! I had done it!  I knew that it wouldn’t be easy and I was right but it was worth it. I’m now officially a sub 20 athlete. It’s taken a long, long time but I’ve now achieved my target.

It was with a broad smile that I showed my barcode to one of the volunteers before catching up with the other runners and cheering the slower ones over the line. Just for good measure I was the first in my age group and also achieved the highest Age Graded Result with a WAVA of 79.83%.

Unusual for me but I did have a cake with my coffee at the On-X Cafe as I joined  with others for post run chat and to lend a hand in sorting out the finish tokens.


Many thanks to everyone involved at Linwood parkrun #14 for helping to make my day so special. Thanks also to Linwood parkrun Facebook page for the use of their photos.



Alan Heron

Dumbarton’s Alan Heron continued his great form, which saw him clock 2:47 at last week’s Chester Marathon, to earn gold, with a time of 17:17, more than one minute ahead of Sean Marshall (18:30). Andrew Heathwood placed third with 19:45 and I was fourth with 19:55.

In the women’s was Elizabeth Kerr to the fore, The Aberdeen Metro athlete placing first with a time of 20:20. Kerry Filliol (nee Lang) secured second with 20:34 and Garscube Harrier, Linda Kennedy earned bronze with her time of 22:52


Elizabeth Kerr with Kerry Lang in the background

Age Graded Results

The following runners recorded the best Age Grade scores:
Ian GOUDIE (VM55-59) was graded 79.83% for the time 19:55 (4th overall).
Alistair KERR (VM70-74) was graded 78.57% for the time 23:01 (22nd overall).
Alan HERON (VM35-39) was graded 75.51% for the time 17:17 (first overall).

Full Results

Clippens and Me

Whilst most Linwood parkrunners may notice the name of Clippens being used for a local roundabout or even the local inn, it means a lot more to me.  Merry & Cunninghame (iron and coal masters with substantial mineral interests throughout the West of Scotland), established coal and ironstone workings at Clippens during the late 1850’s. Worker’s housing was built by the company at Clippens Square, known locally as Balaclava following the victory in the Crimean war. It was there at 21 Clippens Square that my Great Grand Mother Robina McMath was born on the 24th May 1862 to Andrew and Robina McMath (nee Speirs). Andrew, my Great Great Grand Father was recorded as being a ploughman at the time.

Robina had a difficult time of it but eventually moved to Ayr and married a bricklayer by the name of John Park. They had a daughter Robina Park in 1902, my Grand Mother. She married James Connell Goudie in Ayr in 1921 and had three boys. Robin McMath Goudie, Samuel Park Goudie and James Goudie.  I was born to Sam and Mary McDade in Ayr in 1957. Clippens will always be a part of who I am.

Coming Up

I’m heading down to the Isle of Wight soon to do some more running and family research, this time on my mother’s side. Wish me luck.

Cracked Record @Pollok parkrun

A cold and misty morning welcomed me on the first Saturday in October as I made my way to race the Pollok parkrun for the 145th time. The old body was sluggish as I pushed it through my usual warm up routine before joining the assembled masses at the start of the 399th staging of the free, weekly 5k.

With the staging of the Great Scottish Race (GSR) on Sunday and its associated family events on Saturday, the numbers were down from almost 500, on my last visit, to a shade over 300 today. It was’t just quantity that was down though, it was quality as well, with a number of the faster runners prioritising the GSR 10k or Half Marathon above the parkrun.

My lack of distance training meant that I didn’t have to consider the options, as 5k was the longest I’d raced in twelve months. Last year’s GSR Half Marathon being my last long run.

With the diminished field, I started closer to the front than normal and despite being harnessed to Jack, we still managed to avoid much of the usual early congestion. The first kilometre took us 3:59. Whilst this is the type of pace which I should be running at, the self doubt quickly reared its ugly head as i knew that those around me were all faster than me. All of them were looking comfortable at this pace and some took the time to say ‘hello’ to me and the dog wonder. I, on the other hand, was already gasping for air and unable to respond with little more than a grunt.

I didn’t have too long to put up with this pressure though, as two hundred metres later, Jack steered off the road and into the trees for an  unexpected pit stop. I bagged his poo before rejoining the race. We had lost 29 seconds and loads of places but that didn’t bother me too much. I was now on terra firma and with renewed vigor I started chasing after those in front of me. I now had less than 4k to race and the monkey was off my back.

I had looked at my last Pollok parkrun statistics and noticed that, although I thought that I did well in the third kilometre, my pace actually dropped significantly. This is the narrow, squiggly, uphill section which can be muddy and congested.  I usually overtake a few people here but now realise that it’s because they slow down more than I do. This week I worked much harder than usual and my pace only slipped slightly. The fourth kilometre is a long slight gradient up towards the duck pond. I was focused on a runner in a light coloured vest in the distance  and continued to work up the field towards him. I had a little panic when I noticed that I was catching a running buddy that I’ve only ever beaten once before, but I kept my focus on the light vest and overtook my buddy. I sped downhill and turned left into the squiggly difficult section. There was now only 1k to go and the last 200 metres is downhill. I gave it my all it wasn’t long until I was sprinting down the final strait and across the finish line. 33turd-whiteMy token informed me that I had placed a very respectable 33rd, and my Garmin informed me that I had completed the 5k in 20:52, with a moving time of 20:23!  My PB at Pollok is 20:50 which I set in 2010, so to come within two seconds of that, after stopping for 29 seconds blew that performance out of the water. Although the official result will show 20:52, it will also show my age grading of 76.20%, the best I’ve ever achieved at Pollok


Post Race Briefing with Jack


There’s life in the old dog yet.

As usual many thanks to all the volunteers and other runners for making this such a special event.


Full Results





My 200th parkrun

200-club-anyone-can-joinI ran my 200th parkrun at Pollok Park on Saturday 17th 2016, almost eight years after running my first one. Anyone can do it but it will take at least four years.

Glasgow, and indeed Scotland’s, first parkrun was held in Pollock Country Park on 6th December 2008 with 44 participants. I wasn’t one of them. However I did run in  the second event the week later, which attracted only 24 runners and since then, on average, I’ve continued to run a parkrun every two weeks..

Out of those 24 parkrunners on that mid December Saturday morning, 20 beat me as I placed 21st with a time of 25:19. For the record, Casey Morgan was first to cross the line in 17:26, with Li Wang winning the women’s event in 23:22. A total of four volunteers made the event happen: Frances FLOOD, John HAGEMEISTER, Richard LEYTON and Ewan MCDONALD

Pollok parkrun, Glasgow # 2 – 13/12/2008

Pos parkrunner Time Age Grade Gender Pos
1 Casey MORGAN 17:26 74.19 % M 1  
2 Gary HESTER 18:29 77.28 % M 2
3 Campbell JOSS 20:04 76.58 % M 3
4 Gavin ORR 20:09 67.25 % M 4
5 Anthony QUINN 20:11 74.24 % M 5
6 Andrew MOTT 20:39 62.63 % M 6
7 Jamie MCLAUGHLIN 20:55 66.22 % M 7
8 Robert MOODY 21:34 70.63 % M 8
9 Iain BURKE 21:45 73.72 % M 9
10 Alistair KELL 21:59 62.09 % M 10
11 Robert PATTERSON 22:25 64.68 % M 11
12 Nicky FLEMING 22:39 58.20 % M 12
13 John HAMER 23:12 61.14 % M 13
14 Li WANG 23:22 69.04 % F 1
15 Veronika JURANOVA 23:39 62.58 % F 2
16 Dan MAHER 23:40 57.68 % M 14
17 Lucy Sarah MACKAY 24:29 64.06 % F 3
18 Michael ALLAN 24:30 59.18 % M 15
19 Andrew ALLAN 24:30 61.16 % M 16
20 Eddie CAFOLLA 24:47 62.54 % M 17
21 Ian GOUDIE 25:19 58.72 % M 18
22 Christine PATTERSON 26:38 62.77 % F 4
23 Ian MORRIS 28:38 54.13 % M 19
24 Libby PORTER 31:08 48.02 % F 5

I didn’t let my lack of initial success get to me though I did set myself a target of getting into the top 33% of parkrunners. I’ve also had the opportunity to try out some of the other parkruns which have been established across the country. Here’s a summary of my results:

Event Summaries

Event  ↓ Runs  ↓ Best Gender Position  ↓ Best Position Overall  ↓   ↓
Pollok parkrun, Glasgow 144 13 14 00:20:50 All Graph It!
Victoria parkrun, Glasgow 18 25 27 00:20:18 All Graph It!
Strathclyde parkrun 17 11 12 00:20:29 All Graph It!
Tollcross parkrun, Glasgow 6 13 13 00:22:18 All Graph It!
Springburn parkrun, Glasgow 3 14 14 00:20:32 All Graph It!
Edinburgh parkrun 3 28 30 00:20:19 All Graph It!
Eglinton parkrun 3 19 19 00:21:53 All Graph It!
Ayr parkrun 2 6 7 00:22:59 All Graph It!
Linwood parkrun 1 16 17 00:20:08 All
Falkirk parkrun 1 38 44 00:23:15 All
Greenock parkrun 1 23 24 00:20:56 All
Inverness parkrun 1 38 46 00:26:50 All
200 6 7 00:20:08 All

Although my form has been up and down over the years, I’ve returned from a lengthy period of absence caused by a damaged hamstring and I’m now getting a bit of form back. In fact my time of 20:08 achieved at Linwood on 3rd September, was not only my fastest ever parkrun but it also placed me in the top 1% of fastest parkrunners in the UK in 2016.

Most Recent Runs

Event  ↓ Run Date  ↓ Gender Pos  ↓ Overall Position  ↓ Time  ↓ Age Grade  ↓
Pollok parkrun, Glasgow 17/09/2016 43 50 21:13 74.94%
Springburn parkrun, Glasgow 10/09/2016 14 14 20:32 77.44%
Linwood parkrun 03/09/2016 16 17 20:08 78.97%
Pollok parkrun, Glasgow 27/08/2016 64 69 22:29 70.72%
Strathclyde parkrun 20/08/2016 35 36 22:43 69.99%
Pollok parkrun, Glasgow 13/08/2016 67 74 22:13 71.57%
Victoria parkrun, Glasgow 06/08/2016 82 96 22:32 70.56%
Pollok parkrun, Glasgow 30/07/2016 80 85 23:36 67.37%
Pollok parkrun, Glasgow 23/07/2016 133 155 25:58 61.23%
Pollok parkrun, Glasgow 16/07/2016 120 136 26:02 61.08%

Pollok parkrun, Glasgow # 397 – 17/09/2016

Some 490 runners took part in the 397th Pollok parkrun. Whilst I didn’t run a course best on my 144th outing at Pollok, which remains at 20:50, I did run well. I crossed the line in 50th place, with a time of 21:13. Almost four minutes quicker than my first outing nearly eight years ago  and it could be argued that this was my best ever performance at the event as my wava reached a new high of 74.94%.

Andy Bonner won the event, with a time of 17:37 and a wava of 73.60% and Ayr’s Toni McIntosh travelled to Glasgow to help me commemorate the occasion and also turned the clock back, as she placed 1st Female for the first time in four years. Time 19:55, wava 75.31%

Full Results:


Of course at the grassroots level parkrun relies on volunteers to stage the events, week in and week out. Parkrunners are asked to volunteer three times a year and I continue to help out when I can.

Volunteer Summary

Year  ↓ Role  ↓ Number of Times  ↓
2016 Tail Runner 1
2015 Barcode Scanning 1
2015 Number Checker 1
2015 Pacer 1
2015 Photographer 1
2014 Marshal 1
2014 Photographer 3
2013 Photographer 3
2011 Photographer 3
2011 Run Report Writer 1
2010 Marshal 1
2010 Photographer 2
2010 Run Report Writer 3
2010 Tail Runner 1
2009 Barcode Scanning 1
2009 Marshal 2
2009 Photographer 1
2009 Run Report Writer 5
2009 Timekeeper 1
2009 Token Sorting 1

Friends and Running Buddies

Off course whilst all of the above may be of interest, the best thing about the parkrun is the opportunity which it provides to get together with your friends and buddies from the running community. Since its inception, over 15,000 different runners have completed the 5k in Pollock, I’ve run it with most of them. For that alone I thank you all two hundred times. See you at a parkrun soon?


Russian Round Robertland-Stewarton 5k

It’s been a long, long time since I last ran around the streets ‘up the hill’ in Stewarton but the local academy’s decision to stage a 3 and a 5k race gave me the opportunity to turn back time and return to the place of my youth. Although I couldn’t resist taking a slight detour so that I could grab a selfie beside the sign for Ayrshire’s village ‘Moscow’. memoscow

The Robertland housing estate has expanded somewhat since I left the Bonnet Town, with more private housing being built on the south east edge of the ancient burgh. Although I’d never been in the Academy, which was built after my time at school, it still felt like home to me as I entered the gym hall to see a number of well kent faces. Most of these were from the running community and the warmth of their welcome was appreciated.


Pre Race Pic with Lewis

After much deliberation, I decided to run without Jack. ‘Hey it’s not all about the dog!  One local lad taking pat was my nephew, Lewis, so that was challenge number one. After catching up with everyone and warming up, I lined up beside Cat Stewart of Kilbarchan A.A.C. My tactics were easy. Try to stick as close to her as possible, which would be easier said than done, as she ran a 19:09 5k earlier this year.

Both the 3k and 5k races started together at 7pm and we did one lap of the school before going down a lane and on to Pokelly Place. A left turn took us down Cutsburn Road and then a right took us through Fairways (this was the site of the local golf course) a left took us along Mccardle Way (named after Phil, a local church minister?) and down an abrupt path, with a number of steps to overcome, before joining the path along the Annick Water.  As soon as I saw the steps, I though ‘Oh sh*t’ fearing for my injured hamstring. I managed to avoid the steps by running down the adjoining grass. Surprisingly, I overtook Cat at this point but not for long as she breezed past me a few seconds later.  This part was of the course was relatively flat but it wasn’t too long until we reached the pedestrian bridge and turned right ‘up the hill’. Around the swing park, and up Annick Cresent and Gameshill View. A sharp left took us on to Netherlands Road. I was amazed to see that the prefabricated houses on the right hand side were still there after all this time. At the end of the road, we turned right and up the steep Robertland Road before joining Cutsburn Road and starting lap two.


Up the hill….

Having been out for a year, the hills were taking their toll on me but it wasn’t long until we reached the downhill section. My head was telling me to stop and have a rest, even just for a few seconds but I’ve heard that cry before and I struggled on. Back up the hill and along the lane towards the school and the welcome Finish line. I looked at my Garmin, which was displaying 20:03.  One of my best ever times for a 5k.. I congratulated those around me before having a good lie down and getting my breath back. A bottle of water and a banana helped the recovery process as I joined in with the post race banter.  Of course I beat my nephew but the boy ran well.



Irvine’s Paul Lafferty was first overall and Cat took Gold in the women’s event. Full results below..



Good to see my old mate Peter Miller at the end and locals Sandra Hunter and Kenny Phillips on photo duty. Well done to Race Director David Mitchell and all the marshals and other volunteers on the night, including the enthusiastic, flame haired PE teacher.

pics by Kenny Phillips



200th parkrun

See you all next year but before then I’ve got my 200th parkrun on Saturday 17th September at Pollok Park to look forward to. Feel free to join me.



Justice Done at Springburn parkrun

I wasn’t planning to do a parkrun on the 10th September but the heavy rainfall on Friday afternoon put paid to my original plan and around 8:30am, I decided to return to Springburn parkrun. Until recently, this great wee event at the top of Glasgow has been something of a hidden gem, attracting sometimes as few as nineteen runners. However the word is out now and recent attendances have been up to around, and above, the one hundred mark.  Some 97 of us turned up on Saturday and it was good to see so many running buddies amongst them.

Having ran in the first Springburn parkrun in May 2014 and then the 51st in May 2015, I was overdue a visit to the north of the city and of course, my dog, Jack was guaranteed a course best.

The route has been slightly altered since last year and the Start is quite narrow, so I found myself harnessed to Jack near the front of the assembled runners as Belinda Porteous sent us on our way. The downside of starting near the front is that we had to get into race mode straight away and I ended up running faster than I had really wanted to and the first kilometre took us only 3:55. We both had a hard training session on Friday and I had consumed too much red wine in the evening. We ran through a few puddles and then worked hard up the long slope back to the house and the end of the first lap. Same again and then a right turn took us down the final strait and across the line in fourteenth spot, with a time of 20:32. Twenty-nine seconds off of last year’s time delighted me, especially as I recall how happy I was then to get close to the 21 minute barrier. That barrier is now well gone.

Full Results

I exchanged mutual congratulations with those around me and had a wee warm down before heading back to the car to give jack a bowl of water. The boy had done good. I joined the others in the cafe at Huntershill for post run coffee and chat.


Bust of Thomas Muir by Alexander Stoddart

Huntershill is synonymous with Thomas Muir, the father of Scottish Democracy who somehow or other was omitted from my education until I heard Dick Gaughan singing a song by Adam McNaughton entitled Thomas Muir of Huntershill.  The brilliance of the lyrics are typical of the former English Teacher.

My name is Thomas Muir as a lawyer I was trained
Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill
But you’ve branded me an outlaw, for sedition I’m arraigned
Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill
But I never preached sedition in any shape or form
And against the constitution I have never raised a storm
It’s the scoundrels who’ve corrupted it that I want to reform
Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill

M’lord, you found me guilty before the trial began
Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill
And the jury that you’ve picked are Tory placemen to a man
Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill
Yet here I stand for judgement unafraid what may befall
Though your spies were in my parish Kirk and in my father’s hall
Not one of them can testify I ever broke a law
Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill

Yes, I spoke to Paisley weavers and addressed the city’s youth
For neither age nor class should be a barrier to the truth
M’lord, you may chastise them with your vitriolic tongue
You say that books are dangerous to those I moved among
But the future of our land is with the workers and the young                                                           Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill

Members of the jury, it’s not me who’s being tried
200 years in future they will mind what you decide
You may send me to Van Dieman’s Land or clap me in the jail
Grant me death or grant me liberty my spirit will not fail
For my cause it is a just one and my cause it will prevail                                                                     Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill

With quiet words and dignity Muir led his own defence
He appeared completely blameless to those with common sense
When he had finished speaking the courtroom rang with cheers
Lord Braxfield said, “This outburst just confirms our greatest fears”
And he sentenced Thomas Muir to be transported 14 years                                                                 Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill

Gerrard, Palmer, Skirving, Thomas Muir and Margarot                                                                            These are names that every Scottish man and woman ought to know
When you’re called for jury service, when your name is drawn by lot
When you vote in an election when you freely voice your thought
Don’t take these things for granted, for dearly were they bought                                                     Remember Thomas Muir of Huntershill

There’s few that deliver it as well as Dick Gaughan, even after his recent stroke. Here’s a video of him performing the great song a number of years ago:  Thomas Muir of Huntershill


Back to my Rootes in Linwood

I had read a couple of blogs by Steven Hill about the new parkrun at Linwood in Renfrewshire. It’s a place that has fond memories for me as my favourite uncle, aunt and cousins lived there and I used to go my holidays there when I was young boy. As a family we never went on holiday, so it was just me and it was my ‘holiday’ home.

My late mum’s younger sister Margaret McDade and her husband Robert Rae had both moved there to work at the Rootes car factory, which was opened by Prince Phillip on 2 May 1963. The factory became famous for the manufacture of the Hillman Imp. At the peak of production, some sixty cars per hour were rolling off the assembly line and Linwood prospered. I was lucky to spend my time there when the town was in it’s heyday.


Prince Philip and the first Linwood Hillman Imp

Sadly Rootes had financial problems and in 1973, they  became a small part of the giant US Chrysler corporation , who wanted a foothold in Europe. Production of the Imp ceased in 1976 and the plant was sold to Peugeot Talbot in 1978. The factory struggled on with the Hunter, the Sunbeam and the Avenger but three years later Peugeot closed the plant.  Some 6,000 people directly lost their jobs and another 12,000 were lost in the supplier chain and ‘corner shop’ effect.  At a time when jobs were hard to come by, Robert was one of the lucky ones managing to find a job as a bus driver but the town of Linwood suffered badly.

on-xMore than thirty years later there are signs of recovery. As part of Renfrewshire Council £103m investment in the Building Better Communities programme, Linwood has a new Sport and Community Centre, the ON-X  which opened in March 2013 as part of a £24m project. The Centre has three pools;an eight-court sports hall; fitness suite; four dance studios, athletic track and field area and an outdoor, full-size synthetic pitch and facilities for community groups.  Since the 9th July 2016, it has also been home to the Linwood parkrun.

I decided to give it a try on Saturday 3rd September, the ninth staging of the event. As luck would have it, Strathclyde parkrun had been cancelled that day due to a triathlon taking place in the park and a number of regulars from Lanarkshire had decided to come to Renfrewshire, including fourteen from Motherwell AC. In all, some forty-five first timers were included in the day’s 119 parkrunners. As well as a few dogs and at least one baby in a buggy. I was there with Jack and Steven had volunteered to tail run with his daughter, after achieving a fantastic PB of 20:08 last week.


Oh We’re Off

After warming up and chatting with loads of running buddies, we lined up for the 9:3oam Start. When the Race Director said that the pre-race announcements wouldn’t take long, she wasn’t joking and with the cries of ‘oh we’re off’ ringing in my ears, I started my Garmin and joined in with the others running with the hockey pitch on our left hand side. Whilst the others were on the narrow path, Jack and I kept out of their way by running on the adjacent grass, joining the path as it turned left at the far end of the pitch and then right, through the woodlands, towards Moss Road.

Jack hadn’t been too keen to put his harness on and I had hurt my back on Friday, so I wasn’t expecting too much from our performance but with an easier course than Pollok, I hoped that we would be able to dip under the 22 minute barrier for the first time.  We weaved along the course, which changed from path to trail and back again. A sharp left at Moss Road and then another and then a long left curve took us to the end of the woods. At this point, I could see the heads of the those in front bobbing along above the hedges in the distance on our left.  Another left turn and then one more and we were back at the Start line, so I knew that we had completed about half the 5k course. I also knew that we were working hard because I was feeling it.

‘Only 2.5k to go and Jack’s on for his PB’ I thought, in order to motivate myself to keep working hard even though it hurt. We turned left, this time before the hockey pitch, then right and rejoined the first lap. Because of all the wee twists and turns, we never really got a good view of who was in front of us, but most of the time we could see at least one Motherwell vest.

The marshals were great, all of them spurring us on at each turning as I shouted out to Jack ‘left, left’ or ‘right, right’ trying to keep him from taking too many wrong turns. There were white posts on our right indicating 600m, then 500m etc. I didn’t know if that was to the Finish line or not but used them anyway. With a cry of ‘way-bye’ we overtook another runner and headed towards the final strait. With my hamstring and back issues, there wouldn’t be any mad dash for the line but we still finished strongly, placing 17th.


The Final Strait

‘Did you get your sub 22’ asked Neil Robbins, ‘I did indeed’ I replied as I my Garmin revealed a time of 20:06. I was delighted with that time and just as happy to get an official time of 20:08. My lack of attention at the Start may have cost us a couple of seconds but it doesn’t matter too much. My fastest ever 5k in a Scottish Athletics recognised event was 20:18 on 25th May last year at Victoria parkrun. In my 198th outing, I had smashed that by ten seconds, despite being out for nearly a year and not back to real training yet.

With the same time as Steven Hill’s parkrun PB, it’s maybe just a question of which one of us smashes our 20 min parkrun barrier first but at the moment my main target is to get my 200th under my belt, hopefully on 24th Sept at Pollok.


In the last race of their Championship Series, it was Motherwell’s Allan Cameron, running a superb PB of 16:49 who took the plaudits, ahead of team mate Mark Paterson 17:07, with Ian Carroll placing third in 17:11. St Mirren supporter Mark Gallacher ran his first sub 18, placing fifth in 17:54.


Rachael Bushfield

In the women’s event, Inverclyde’s Rachael Bushfield still recovering from injury set a new course record of 19:14 to take Gold, ahead of Claire MacAskill (20:22) and Gemma Taylor (21:42).

Full Results

Post Race

After our warm down, I joined in with the Motherwell runners and others in the cafe before visiting my uncle who still stays in the same house as he did all these years ago. Sadly, my last visit a  few months ago had been at my aunt’s funeral, so it was good to see that he was in good form. Today was a much happier day than then. I’ll be back to run Linwood and catch up with him soon.


Post Race Selfie with my Uncle Robert


Many thanks to all the volunteers for putting on this great event and to all my running friends and buddies for making me and Jack feel so welcome.  Photos from Linwood parkrun Facebook page.