Scottish Athletics: Virtual Road Challenge VII

Scottish Athletics have been organising virtual challenges over the last year to keep us all engaged with running during the pandemic. Distances have usually ranged from 1 mile to 10, occasionally longer. However for their 7th event, they offered a marathon option! We haven’t always reported on virtual racing, but when one of our members goes ahead and finishes first for a virtual marathon, it is more than deserving of a write up!

Oliver Reilly previously lead the way with his time at the virtual London Marathon in October, running 2.57 around the Battery Park (with a solid team of pacers). This time, he opted for the trickier loop of The Esplanade and Eldon Street (around 3.5km). Completely solo, and battling a brisk westerly wind and uneven and slightly undulating terrain, Oliver proceeded to run an incredible 2.50.59! An incredible run, and it sat rightly as the top virtual marathon entry in Scotland. Oliver ran on the Friday, and the weather admittedly deteriorated over the weekend which may have put some runners off. However, you would have to do something special to get anywhere near that time on your tod!

Oliver was not the only person to attempt the marathon distance. Our very own Ultra runner Kevin Gill had been training hard for the ultimately cancelled track marathon, so he set out to complete his marathon on a shorter loop of Eldon Street and The Esplanade. Kevin, backed by a hearty group of pacers, set out well and despite hitting the wall, he pushed through to break the 4 hour mark by just 37 seconds.

The other options for seniors over the weekend were 10k and half marathon. Oliver was not to be the only runner topping leaderboard for the event, Debbie McKenzie ran her best half marathon time to top the ladies masters leaderboard in a superb time of 1.50.17. Heather Lafferty also had a great run to get herself 4th on the same list, and they combined with Emma Sinclair to finish as the fastest ladies only team. On the men’s masters side in the half, Owen Atkinson was 3rd and Eric Lindsay’s fastest half got him 6th.

All routes need to be on a loop of at least 1km (due to GPS inaccuracies), that is unless you can get on a track, and for a half marathon that’s over 52 laps… Its not for everyone, but Andy McCall isn’t everyone. Andy absolutely smashed it on the track in an incredible 1.19.24, and in his own words that’s his fastest half marathon since the dawn of GPS watches! Andy, Owen and Eric combined to be the number one team for the half marathon category, with Andy 2nd overall individually! Well done guys.

In the 10km, Daniel Doherty completed his on the track for a great run of 36.33 and Stephen Hanley wasn’t far behind in 37.04 while opting for a coastal route in Gourock. John Stevenson made up the club A team which finished in 5th spot, with a B team of Graeme Boyce, Viki Smith and Fiona MacFarlane.

One of the main things is seeing good participation and representation from the club, and Donna Campbell, Sandra Devine and Elaine Medinelli also combined for a full 10km team. Eddie Devine and Charlotte McKay also took part, which is great to see. It is hard to compete with the numbers that Bellahouston Road Runners have entered in almost all of these events, but Greenock Glenpark Harriers have regularly been second behind them in terms of numbers. We only had one junior have a go at the options available, well done to Summer Taggart running a quick 3km in 12.33.


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