This idea sounds like fun and always good to reflect on races gone by, not just to answer the questions but also to realise how far I’ve come as a runner.
Best Finishers Shirt
This would be between Survival of the Fittest in 2009 and Watermelon 5k in 2012. Survival of the Fittest was one of the few obstacle races I’ve done and we got Under Armour t-shirts at the finish. I wore this t-shirt all the time afterwards until it was no longer wearable! The t-shirts we got from the Watermelon 5k in 2012 were made by Adidas and it’s one of my favourite shirts to train in.
Worst Finisher’s Shirt
It has to be the Pitlochry 10k t-shirt. I like my running shoes bright but not my t-shirts
Best Finish Line
London without a shadow of a doubt. The last mile coming past Big Ben, Buckingham Palace then the road on The Mall with the line facing you is amazing. What is also good is that they have a great process of collecting your foil blanket, medal, goody bag then your own bag and still have lots of space to take time for yourself before rejoining your family/friends at the repatriation area.
Best Overall SWAG/Gear
London and Paris spring to mind here but I have to say Loch Ness Marathon this year was the best. The general goody bag was pretty good with a variety of snacks etc but my wife and I were lucky enough to be given VIP passes by Macmillan, who we’ve been raising money for this year with our challenge and we received a jute bag each full of goodies from the sponsors, Baxter’s. With it being Baxter’s, the bag was full of nice soups, chutney and relish. Awesome!
Best Crowd Support
London. I’ve run London 7 times and each time the crowd has been amazing, particularly along the Embankment in the last 3 miles when you need it the most.
Being from Scotland, there aren’t many races that will fall into this category and so it has to be Run Thru Hell 5k in Tampa, Florida. We go to Florida every summer on holiday and usually fit in a few 5k races while we’re there. Most of the races start around 7am but this one kicks off at 8am and so it’s pretty sticky and hot enough to make your eyeballs sweat!
The Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Edinburgh. It wasn’t a particularly cold day but we had gale force winds. The winds were strong enough that one or two portaloos toppled over and there was chaos at the finish as part of the original baggage tent had come down and so in the interests of health and safety, everyone had to stand in a queue and wait while the volunteers fetched the begs. Fortunately, the organisers started handing out foil blankets to everyone in the queue.
Most Beautiful Course
This is definitely the Loch Ness Marathon. Runners get bussed out to the start from Inverness and the journey follows the banks of Loch Ness for a good number of miles and it’s pretty stunning however you are met with this view on the start line.
This is a race that used to take place in my home town of Perth and appropriately called Heaven and Hell Half Marathon. Perth sits in a bowl and so you have to tackle a hill in pretty much any direction you go in. The course boasted a 2 mile long hill both uphill and downhill! You would get over the first hill and follow a long downhill section before flattening out for about 100m before starting the long trek uphill complete with hairpin bends. If that wasn’t challenging enough, you were often met with a head wind in the last mile on the flat! Here’s the course profile and if you click on it, you’ll get the review from Runners World
Race That Took The Most Mental Strength
My very first marathon in London in 1998. I hadn’t trained nearly enough for this race, ran the last 15 miles with very sore shins and from mile 18, wondered why on earth I had decided that running a marathon was a good idea. The atmosphere amongst the runners as well as the crowd kept me going and I’ll never forget the amazing feeling when I crossed the finish line. That race changed my life as I have continued to run marathons pretty much every year since and it also inspired me to quit my job making pizzas and train to become a Personal Trainer and train others to get into running.
Most Disappointing Finish
London Marathon in 2012. I was chasing 3hrs 15mins to get a good for age time and wore a pace band I picked up at the Expo. I took the times on it literally and didn’t take into account the slow start you get with a big city marathon and so found myself completely off pace and set-off at 6 miles to get back on track with the times on the band. I was about 45 secs off that pace and by the half way mark, I had managed to get back on track. Playing catch-up eventually caught up on me and I was walking by mile 22. I can’t remember what my time was as I was so annoyed with myself that I erased the time from my memory and haven’t looked at pace bands since!
Best Start Line
The view at the start of Loch Ness would normally be a strong contender here but this one goes to Paris. You can’t argue with the very rare opportunity to run down the Champs Elysees with the Arc de Triomphe at your back. This is the only time outside the Tour de France where the Champs Elysees is closed to traffic.
Easily London. From the moment you arrive at the Expo and Registration to after you’ve shuffled away from the finish area, it feels like they’ve laid out the red carpet for everyone. They are meticulous in every aspect and the finish area is exceptional where they have a procession line where they put your medal round your neck, take your photo and hand you everything you need and all you have to do is keep moving. .
This is definitely the Edinburgh Marathon. Promoted as the fastest marathon course in Britain, it has a downhill stretch in the first few miles and is flat for the rest of the way. A great race to get a fast time!
Best Finish Line Food
Heaven and Hell Half Marathon was famed for its post-race spread and most races in Scotland that are organised by running clubs tend to put on great spreads as the club members all chip in with delicious home baking but I am going to go with the Watermelon 5k as watermelon has to be the best thing to have straight after a race for rehydration. Add in a bottle of water, a cold, damp face towel to wipe the sweat away and the smoothie and sno-cone and also a watermelon eating contest if you’re up for it! This is the most refreshing post-race anywhere
This is going to be split between the 2014 Paris Marathon medal and 2014 Cool Summer Mornings 5k medal.
Most Emotional Finish
This one is the Edinburgh Marathon from this year. I set up a challenge this year to run the Paris Marathon, Loch Ness Marathon and cover the 850 miles (equivalent distance from Paris to Inverness) in the 25 weeks between the two races to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of my dad who lost his battle with cancer in 2013. As part of that challenge, I did the ‘hairy’ at Edinburgh by doing the 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon in the same weekend. The 5k and 10k were on the Saturday and on the Sunday, I had to run the Half Marathon then jump on the back of my mate’s motorbike so I could get back to Edinburgh in time to run the Marathon. There are no words to describe how I felt when I crossed the finish line of the marathon but one of the photographers taking some PR shots for the organisers got this one of me which was then all over the event Facebook page and other promotional material from the event and also Macmillan since then. My proudest moment ever in running