Blind Dave along with his guides, Garry and Tony, are attempting to complete all 24 Great Runs this year and fundraising for The Albion Foundation. They began their journey back in January in Edinburgh and their final run will be the Great Ethiopian Run in November.
Read on to hear all about Dave's experience at the Great Scottish 10K & Half Marathon.
The Bank of Scotland 10k and Half Marathon is the next race on our schedule. We were off to Glasgow on Saturday. No team bus this weekend as we found it difficult to find parking in the cities. 11.24 am saw us board the train from Sandwell and Dudley direct to Glasgow Central station. Garry joined us at Wigan and, after about 4 hours of travelling, we got to our hotel rooms by mid-afternoon just as the Premier League football games started. Georgie, my daughter, being at the match kept me up to date and it was a pleasant surprise for me to receive a text telling me the Baggies were two up against Watford, mind that was short lived as suddenly I’m informed they got a goal back.
Checking in the hotel, getting up to the room, it was getting on towards full time and we were still two one up! Keeping an ear on the TV it was going to be very nice the following morning greeting Mr. Dave Hart, part of the great run team, with a smile and mentioning our win over his team Watford, with two minutes to full time I was still smiling. The lads continually winding me up saying they had equalised, but I wasn’t having any of it, with only seconds to full time Tony said if Watford score I’d buy breakfast the next morning. You’re on I replied, then disaster, with only seconds left, Watford equalised! The smile and the thought of three points left my face, with words such as, oh dear me, being uttered! The laughter followed me out of the room; we had agreed to meet up with Jay, a Glaswegian blind runner. Meeting him we decided to go for a beer in what I’m told is the oldest pub in Glasgow, the Scotia Bar, allowing myself one Guinness. Would have liked a few more to drown the sorrows, but with a double run the following morning that wouldn’t be the most sensible thing for me to do.
Coming out 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. Standing in the square at one point we were approached by a man named Martin, in Glasgow for the weekend, living now in Kendall, but formally from our neck of the woods. Seeing the Baggies badge on our jackets, very kindly gave us £10 for the Albion Foundation. We chatted for a while, then the rain started so we made our way back to the hotel, had some tea then it was time to get our kit ready and bed down for the night.
The familiar routine began, Sunday morning and unbelievably 1 October! Up, kit sorted and numbers pinned on. Today I was trialing some new Runderwear™. They kindly donated a few pairs of briefs, and with a double run in front of us I thought it to be the ideal run to try out their products with heavy rain being forecasted. Down for breakfast, then out into the fresh morning air, a bonus that wet stuff hadn’t arrived yet! With the start line literally two minutes away in George Square, met up with the great run team and no gloating, had to share a point with Dave Hart, a much happier Watford fan. After having an interview with David Murray on the BBC it was time to line up for the start of the first run, the Glasgow 10k.
The hooter was sounded and we began the 10k. Garry was guiding me for this one and he very kindly reminded me of the hill in front of us, St. Vincent’s Street, I needed no reminding. It went seriously up and if you were cold at the bottom, your heart rate and body heat was up to temperature at the top! Over the top and a swing to the left where we were confronted by a load of parents with kids giving high fives. It’s great to hear the laughter from the kids. I gave them a loud oggy oggy oggy and the response was tremendous. We ran on, the lads not saying much in the way of sights to describe as it was more an industrial route.
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 in the run, Garry frightened the life out of me when he reported we were running on the motorway! I heard the hiss from the traffic and exclaimed, “What?” I was told we were not actually on the motorway, but running alongside the slip road of the M8 and M77. Not seeing and hearing a lot of vehicles certainly unnerved me for a fleeting moment. All I get from the lads is laughter and it wouldn’t surprise me for a minute them running me down the hard shoulder.
Not much to report on after that, but I do recall there being a pier playing the bagpipes at every kilometre. The finish line at Glasgow Green seemed to come very quickly, with the 10k and run number 19 now completed.
We collected our goody bags and a few photos. It was then time to make our way from the finish and back to the start for the half marathon in George Square. With the crowds building, it took us around 15 minutes to walk with the rain just starting to fall lightly. We popped our bags quickly into the hotel reception then found the start and a marquee just as the rain came down heavy.
The wheelchair contestants set off, then the white wave runners were sent on their way and it seemed like only seconds ago we were standing on this very start line for the 10k. Now we lined up again only this time for the half. Tony was guiding me for the half, the hooter sounded and we were off again. St. Vincent Street got no easier the second-time round with the rain chilling and dampening spirits. At the top this time it seemed like someone had a disco blaring out, but to our surprise Tony told me it was a ladies choir and they were simply fantastic. I honestly thought it to be recorded music. We could have listened to them all day, but we had the matter of some 13 miles to run.
The rain now started to come down rather heavy and we followed the 10k course for about 4 miles, and then branched off towards a park. The pipers seemed to be playing again this time it seemed like every mile. As the rain was bad, the wind got up slightly. No history lessons this time as Tony was looking more to the road and what was underfoot. I’m sure we passed through two parks and there was certainly some undulating once again! Garry was slightly ahead of us. Tony kept an eye on him from a distance that way he was able to keep his own pace.
The rain was now even heavier. Muscles were getting cold but we still had the chance to chat to other runners. We passed another blind runner and his guide. Neil was from St. Andrews. We had a little chat, compared guide dogs then pushed on. It was around 8 miles being cold and wet, Tony told me it was one of those runs he now wanted to see the finish as he was beginning to get fed up. Those words always make me worry! Knowing those words of old, means mischief could be on the horizon! It was about this time that my feet seemed to start getting extremely wetter, puddle after puddle. In fact, I asked at one point if there was fish in the last one. Then it seemed like I was running in the Clyde! Tony said there was 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 and I asked Tony if he was as wet. He replied, “No, I’m running in the dry. I can see the water so why should I run in it?” At this point it seems like he started to play a game to stop him from getting too bored! It seemed I was the game, seeing how many puddles or streams in this case he could run a blind man through!
After a few choice words, we then had a good laugh. All this mischief is being stored up. The rain got heavier, the puddles deeper, the laughter more. We caught up with Garry and it was pleasing to hear Tony tell me he could see the finish line, mind I always ask him how good his eyes are as he might be seeing it from quite a distance away! I was literally wet from head to toe, but spirits being high, as we had now finished run number 20. After a couple of photos, a finish interview with David Murray of the BBC, goody bag collection, we were then off to Glasgow Green for the last time. Sloshing our way back to the hotel for a quick shower, cuppa, then to find the station.
Glasgow Central housed a nice bar where we had a couple pints, some food and then met up with my pal Simon from RNIB radio. I have done a radio blog with him for the past 10 years. After chatting for the past year about the latest challenge it was nice for Simon to meet the lads who he simply knew only by name.
After completing our journey of nearly 500 miles to run #19 and 20 it was satisfying to have a soft seat for four hours instead of pounding our feet. Another great weekend! After trialling my new pants from Runderwear™, I can honestly say they did me proud! With the miles and the rain they were put to the serious test. No chaffing whatsoever and only pure comfort, so I would certainly recommend them!
Eyes now closing, but the thoughts are on the next couple runs – the Birmingham Marathon & Half Marathon! Wonderful but terrifying at the same time!