Two years ago the Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon had to be postponed due to heavy snow, the snow returned last year but relented in time for the race to proceed. This year road works delayed the start by some fifteen minutes but the conditions were perfect for running and almost 500 runners were bussed out to Balloch shores to run the 13.1 miles back along the paths and roads to Clydebank.
Gillespie Grabs the Initiative
The first few miles saw a lead pack of ten runners working together with Matt Gillespie, Thomas Fay and Michael Deason of Glasgow University; Jethro Lennox, Allan Adams and Paul Sorrie of Shettleston; Kerry Liam Wilson and Robert Gilroy of Ron Hill Cambuslang; and Kenny Richmond and Matt Williamson of Bellahouston Road Runners.
Between Renton and Dumbarton the field began to stretch out with Sorrie and Deason dropping off slightly and Williamson, Bradford and McKnight slightly further behind. The front group were working well with all runners taking their turn at leading the group, however in the fifth mile, ultra competitive nineteen year old Matt Gillespie from Dollar made his move and broke away from the pack.
By the eighth mile the student, running in his first half marathon, had opened a gap of some forty seconds ahead of the chasing pack which now consisted of Gilroy, Adams, Lennox, Richmond and Wilson. By the tenth mile Lennox and Adams's increased pace had narrowed the gap on the young tearaway with Wilson, Gilroy and Richardson some 25 seconds behind running in single file. There was to be little change in the running order as the Law and German student increased his lead as he weaved his way through the Clydebank streets and narrow paths towards the far from scenic finish line at the back of the local shopping centre to finish in a time of 1:08:24, more than one minute ahead of runner-up Lennox.
Bella Belles in Balloch Success
The women's race was a bit of a Bellahouston Road Runners affair as Rebecca Johnson held off a strong challenge from club mate Deborah Gray to earn first prize, 76th overall with a time of 1:26:56, with the club's Jane Simpson placing fourth behind Clydesdale Harrier Pamela McCrossan.
The race was closed by Ross Goodman who placed 479th in a time of 02:46:06.
Race winner Matt Gillespie told www.scottishrunningguide.com "I really enjoyed the route and the distance. Running from Balloch through the countryside to Clydebank was a bit like a Sunday run. Racing a half marathon for the first time I was a bit apprehensive about how to run it. As a shorter distance runner I knew that the pace in the early stages would never be an issue and that it would be the later stages that I would really struggle. I somehow threw away all those thoughts when I was put in a race situation and was fortunate enough that this paid off!"
Photographs by Richard Leyton.