MARATHON races have been in the news recently for all the right – and wrong – reasons.
The events at Boston shocked many across the world, and for those who take part in road running was an attack on what makes a marathon special.
Running 26.2 miles does not come naturally for most people. It is a feat of endurance which requires months of training, stamina and mental strengths which test us to the limits.
But marathons are also about support – from families and close friends over the many weeks of long runs and hard graft. And, of course, on the day when they encourage everyone to finish and reach their targets. Last Monday’s attack in Boston hit at the very essence of marathons.
But as events in the US and the UK showed, there is a resilience too to marathon runners and those who support them. Stories of bravery and heroism abound – not just in the aftermath of Boston, but in the motivation of many who took part in the London Marathon, and in Scotland in the Lochaber Marathon the day before Boston.
Raising funds for good causes, running in memory of family and friends, aiming to raise awareness of good causes – these are important elements of the marathon.
For local runners in Kirkintilloch Olympians AC, these three marathons in the last two weeks have been important test of character and opportunities to support charities and causes.
And these have been combined with personal goals to better previous times, to run their first marathon and to run as a team.
A week ago, David Hogg took part in the 2013 Boston Marathon. To achieve this opportunity he had to qualify with a sub-three hour time in previous races; a feat most marathon runners acknowledge is in itself an achievement.
David had previously raced Chicago and New York, so Boston was the last of the three ‘US majors’. Supported by his family, he ran an outstanding 3hr 8mins – a top 600 place in his age category. For him the support on the course was superb.
He said: “The Boston people love running; they are knowledgeable and gave great support. They kept me going in the final stages.”
The cowardly attack which happened only minutes after they left the area may be what this year’s race will be remembered for . . . but this will only strengthen the marathon spirit in future.
The day before, at Lochaber, the club had 10 runners taking part and in far from ideal conditions achieved an amazing five personal best times.
Vincent Carroll (pictured) led the club team home, setting a best time of 3hr 8mins to help the club secure the second team prize in the men’s event. Also outstanding was Sian Casey’s time of under four hours in her first marathon. Encouraged by the family, Sian (below) overcame injury to meet a target she could only dream of a few months ago.
Last weekend, a similar number of runners took part in the London Marathon – with similar results as personal best times were set across the field.
Sean Casey, having supported his wife the week before, ran as part of a team raising funds for MacmIllan Cancer Support. Also struggling with injury a few weeks ago, Sean set an excellent time of 3:31 following only a few mintues behind Des McKeown, who led the Macmillan Kirkintilloch team. Like others raising money for charity, the thought of the good cause kept them going as they ran the last few steps in the Mall.
Further ahead, Graham McCabe was the club’s first finisher, completing the 26.2 miles in 2hr 55mins, more than three minutes faster than previous marathons.
He was joined by Euan Craig in achieving a sub three-hour race. Behind, Derek Martin set his fastest time and was delighted with 3hr 4mins. And to cap an outstanding day, Robert McLachlan and Robert Mahon both achieved their target of completing their first marathons.
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