Memorial race will make history

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IN a few weeks, Kevin McTaggart will be running his first half marathon – the Neil McCover Memorial race.

For Kevin this event has special significance. He is running to raise funds for British Heart Foundation, at the request of his grandmother, and in memory of his grandfather who died this year.

But Kevin is also running the race as one of the group of serving police officers who will be participating in memory of Neil McCover, the local athlete whose name the race bears.

Neil from Kirkintilloch was tragically killed in a cycling accident last October. He was chair of the local athletics club, a competing athlete and a superintendent in Strathclyde Police.

Kevin admits the race will not be easy.

He said: “Any time I run in the presence of other people I put myself under pressure to do well. For this run I may have to put this to one side and ensure first and foremost that I complete the race and hope to achieve a respectable time for my first attempt.”

For local athletes Scott Lawrie and Kevin Gall the challenge is also to complete their first race at this distance. Both are members of Kirkintilloch Olympians, the club organising the race, and will be some of the youngest participants. Both are running to help raise funds for Brake, the road safety charity. This is the official race charity and already over £400 has been raised.

Scott (pictured above, right) said: “When I heard the race was being organised, I was interested in participating straight away. Neil was one of the coaches from the running club and I felt it would be special to run my half-marathon in this race.

“I think it will be great with a variety of people taking part – competitive runners, fundraisers and those who just run for fun. It’s a good way to commemorate Neil.”

Like Scott, Kevin (left) is aware of the challenges of competing over this distance.

He said: “The hardest part is keeping motivated for all the training. In the race itself, adrenaline will help to get me to the end. I will be proud of the achievement of completing a half marathon.”

Kevin Gall’s father has been one of the key people who have enabled the race to take place. He is a divisional commander with Strathclyde Police and close friend of the McCover family. After a few months intensive training, he too is taking part in the race.

There is a large of team of supporters from the Olympians helping out. Amongst those involved are a group of young runners who will be assisting after the race, handing out goody bags and water. For these Olympians, this event is of special significance as they were coached by Neil and have been enthusiastic to support the event.

Race director Robert Rogerson said: “Putting on a race of this size is a big effort for all concerned. We hope that many local people will come out and cheer on the runners as they go along the route.”

The race starts at 9am in Woodhead Park on Sunday, October 9.

The runners will pass along Waterside Road and Hillhead Road in Kirkintilloch and then to Milton of Campsie, the eastern edge of Lennoxtown, through Torrance and then returning along Gallowhill Road in Lenzie.

You can support Kevin, Scott and Kevin in their attempts to complete the race through JustGiving.

You can still enter the half marathon – online at http://www.entrycentral.com/index.php?raceID=101212 or by post, using the entry form from Kirkintilloch Olympians. The closing date is October 2.