Friday, 19 August 2016


Normal logic and common sense would all point to the fact that running a 50 mile race only 3 weeks after finishing a 40 miler is not the wisest of moves but as my preferred surface is tarmac and this race is logistically *just up the road* it was a no brainer and had to be done. The JLRS50 always has a relatively small amount of entries but the addition of the relay race has boosted numbers on the route and created a lot more interest in the event.

The target for the day was just to finish as 50 miles on tar is tough going so any finish is a bonus, the next target is to finish with a good placing and as the main opposition was Grant Jeans (course record holder) Rob Soutar (2 times previous winner) and James Stewart ( not too shabby a runner) it was obvious it was going to need  a shift and a half to displace any of them from in front of me. I was on taxi duty and picked up Rob and James and we arrived in plenty of time in Strathaven to ready ourselves for the exertions ahead.

The 3 Amigos before the race
 Race start at 8am and in the first mile it was obvious Grant was on a mission to win as he shot off up the hill at a speed you would only expect in a 10km race so the next 10 miles we 3 trundled along discussing the pros and cons of that particular tactic and quite frankly could only find cons but each to their own as they say. If he was having a good day we wouldn't see him again and on the other hand if it went pear shaped when would it happen. My bet was on 32 miles so more on that later.

At the first checkpoint after 10 miles I grabbed my drink bottle and carried on but could feel a niggle in my right hip and groin and as Rob caught up with me after his 3rd pee stop I think he had spied this from behind and asked if  everything was ok to which I confessed no it wasn't. Well this must have been all that was required for 2 mates to ditch another as the 2 amigos gradually picked the pace up and starting pulling further ahead of me. From this point at 13 miles the pain gradually increased and this is where the mental strength of ultra running comes in as you start discussing with yourself at which point do you decide to call it a day and what is an injury or just something you can *run off* . with a mere 37 miles of running left I decided to ease the pace and nurse it till checkpoint 2 at 19 miles and reassess. As I crossed the road and approached where the checkpoint normally is there was a distinct lack of bodies so I carried on through wondering if they had set up further up the road but a mile or two on and no sign of anyone I resigned myself to no juice till the next checkpoint at 26 miles and as the pain was not increasing I may as well carry till the next checkpoint at least.

 At this point in the race at high Langridge our 3 intrepid adventurers ahead all decided to go off piste and rewrite the route, luckily for them the road they took hooked back exactly where the correct route would go to the checkpoint in Stonehouse so they didn't get lost somewhere in deepest darkest South Lanarkshire and not much difference in distance.

Correct route, do not go straight ahead!
In need of a drink I looked forward to my drop bag bottles at Stonehouse but it wasn't to be as I was informed we were covering the route too fast and the vehicle hadn't arrived with the goods yet but were enroute and the kind gent would drive out and bring them asap if I just carried on running. About a mile and a half later the support car pulled along side me and the package handed over. I downed the bottle of coke quicker than a pint of lager and carried my tailwind bottle which I gradually got through in the next couple of miles. This leg is about 14 miles and just seems to go on and on as you head for Auldhouse at 40 miles and would you believe it at 32 miles just after Glassford the support car coming the other way stopped and kindly handed me a bottle of coke and Grants voice from the back seat saying Rob and James were a mile or two so up the road. Now I was in 3rd place chasing down the two machines and any thoughts of pulling out had to be put aside as the final checkpoint loomed closer.

Checkpoint 4 (40 miles) at Auldhouse arrived soon enough and my final drop bag had made it so coke downed and tailwind drink in hand I gave myself a talking to and persuaded myself that no amount of pain in my hip could prevent a finish and it was *only* 10 miles till the end. I had no idea how far I was behind and really wasn't bothered , I would have been more disappointed with a DNF than a sore leg. After the climb up to Whitelees Wind Farm the race is generally an undulating 10km downhill to the finish and I picked the pace up thankfully as the relay runners started to appear steadily passing on their way to the end. A 51 minute 10km to finish on tired legs cannot be all bad and I finished in 6hr 54 mins with Rob 2nd in *6hr 29min and James 1st in *6hr 19mins.

* James and Robs route (hee hee)

Drop bag issues aside this year this is a wonderful race to take part in and I would encourage anyone to come and give it a go, and if you are not up for the full bhuna enter a relay team and join in the fun. Many thanks to the Lucas organising team and stewards for another unforgetable race.

Friday, 22 July 2016


It has been a few weeks since the last blog and time seems to be just speeding away this year. My plan for the year is a fast marathon in Berlin to see if I can go under 2:50 and that has been the target for many months and the reason for entering so few races this year. Well that was the plan but a look at what I have entered for the next few months and what I have completed already I may have slipped up a bit but if I am fit I will be fine.

Sunday 15th May

After London the next marathon up was Brathay Windermere but the small matter of the Monklands Half the week before to get the legs back up to race pace. Monklands is great local half organised by North Lanarkshire Council Leisure Dept and is superbly organised on a testing two and a half lap loop around the perimeter of Drumpellier Park in Coatbridge. I was accompanied by my brother Michael and little sister Kate for this one and knew Michael was in good shape for this with the Berlin target also on his radar. Race weather was perfect and we were treated to a beautiful day for running. A bit of cat and mouse for the first few miles till positions evened out and it was left to Michael to try and make up the 30 second gap I had opened with a mile to go, but he knew when I glimpsed him going round the last turn out of the park he wasn't going to catch me and we finished in 10th and 11th place is in 1:21:36 and 1:21:56 respectively with Kate having a comfortable finish in 1:56:50.

Kate, me, Michael
Sunday 22nd May

Next up was Windermere and a little extra race with no target time as it was actually a stag weekend with a fun run added for a laugh. Gavin Harvie had arranged the weekend for a jolly before his nuptials in July and as runners were travelling from around the country this just seemed to be the central point. Several of the guys had travelled down on the Friday but due to work stuff myself and Michael travelled down on Saturday afternoon accompanied by Duncan Thomson.


Needless to say much beer was consumed and pre marathon curry consumed so I was feeling rather fragile on the start line on Sunday morning in the grounds of Brathay Hall at the head of Lake Windermere. With delicate head and guts we set off and it was apparent this was going to be a toughie early on although it didn't seem to affect Cris Walsh as he shot off like a greyhound out of a trap, maybe forgoing the stag do and travelling down on race morning was a sensible idea.

1st mile

race route

As marathon routes go this one is beautiful with some outstanding scenery and definitely a professionally organised event. I set off with Michael with the intention of running together as long as possible but I gradually pulled away from him as he felt a few of the climbs but as we reached halfway point he pulled alongside me and we had a mile or 2 together before more climbing began on the way to Ice Cream Hill at 21 miles, where if you fancied a stop for refueling after yet another hill ice cream could be had. Gavin, Lee and Kelvin took another course of action and stopped earlier at a pub for a pint. I realised a sub 3 hour run was slipping away but kept up an even pace but with a mile to after going over a short humpback footbridge the volcano of beer and curry still rattling around in my guts decided it was time to make an appearance and much to the spectators delight I deposited the contents of my belly on the roadside. This gave Michael a lift as he rounded the corner to see me only a short distance up the road but with only 500 mtrs to go not enough distance for him to catch me on the final climb.

the final climb pre race and still fun

The finishing line was a welcome sight with a 3:02:59 for me and 3:03:15 for Michael and amazingly 1st and second vet 45s, so even though I was rough we both got a prize.

The rest of the stag party trundled over the finishing line in various states of disrepair with us heading straight back home and Gav, Lee and Kelvin staying to celebrate some more.

Sunday 12th June

Next up was the Strathearn Marathon, yet another hilly one and only a few weeks recovery which also include a 33 mile recce run on the Clyde Stride route so no big expectations for this but hoping still to get in around about the 3 hour mark. I was nominated driver for the day collecting Julie McFall and Robert Soutar and arriving in plenty of time at Cultybraggan Camp on the outskirts of Comrie. The weather for the race was a bit wet and blowy but ideal running conditions. Robert was wanting a sub 3 hour time to apply for Good For Age in London next year and I had planned to run with him but it became apparent as we started the 7 mile slog uphill my legs had not recovered from Windermere so had no option but to watch him disappear off in front on his way to a superb 2:53:43 finish.

Me and Mark trying to get Rob to join Vicky Park

Boab on a mission

Top of the hill

Julie suitably unimpressed

                                                                                                                                                            Julie was not expecting too much from her marathon for the year due to a couple if niggling injuries but she too had a great strong run finishing in 4:05:39. My run turned in to a great training run for the Stride and I rattled out even splits finishing strongly in 3:01:09, although over the 3 mark it was unscathed. Another marvellous race which gets even better when you finish with an outstanding food spread laid on by the Strathearn Harriers and local community.

Saturday 16th July

A highlight of the year is the Clyde Stride Ultramarathon, 40 miles from Partick to New Lanark along the River Clyde and this year a lot of friends were coming in from all over the world to help celebrate Michaels 50th birthday on the 17th by taking part in the race and also a team entered from MR25 Michaels club in Singapore. Myself and Robert had shown Kevin ODonoghue the route a few weeks previously on a 33 mile recce run so I knew who the competition for placing would at least be coming from with those two racing.

Taking it all too seriously

Kenneth, Michael, me, Graham

Race morning and it was a wonderful atmosphere with visitors from afar and lots of other running and marshalling friends all congregating at registration and then the start line. My own race strategy for the race was carry nothing apart from salt tablets and a solitary gel in case of emergency and pick up a bottle of tailwind/water mix at each checkpoint. 

Straight from the start the race was fast as Grant Jeans, Rob and Kevin shot off at a pace of  around about 6 minute miles which was just not in my plan so I watched them gradually pull away hoping my own pace(which for miles 1-9 averaged 6:45 per mile) would keep me in contention later on. There were 2 other runners ahead of me one of whom I passed just after the long grass in section two which left 3 known to me and 1 other wearing a GREY t-shirt. As we exited Strathclyde Park Stephen Schofield had mine and Robs bottles instead of us getting them at checkpoint 2 and as I got there Rob had stopped and decided to pull out of the race so that left Kevin, Grant and the GREY lad in front now. On entering the cowfield (Barrons Haugh) I glimpsed Grant and steadily reeled him in for the next 3 mile passing him with about 3 miles to go to the checkpoint 3. Now 2 in front, Kevin and a GREY t-shirted runner.

approaching checkpoint 3

After checkpoint 3 my belly decided it was time to empty and I threw up all the juice and two salt tablets I had downed at the checkpoint but luckily I had the foresight to have left two bottles there and was carrying the extra one so took it easy for a mile or so and had another two tablets and slowly rehydrated. This is a tough section on tired legs I was really starting to slow down and had no idea if anyone was within touching distance till just before the new bridge at the pumping station where Davie who informed me I was catching the leaders. Davie offered me a gel but I declined as I wanted juice but he didn't have any but I knew the shop in Kirkfieldbank was only a mile away so not a problem I would get some there. As I approached the gate on the small climb to the road in to Kirkfieldbank  I caught sight of a runner but he was wearing a bright green t-shirt so presumed he was a relay runner and never gave it much thought even almost catching him as I went in to the shop and bought a bottle coke.

The shop stop took about 2 minutes going by my watch splits and I carried on hoping no-one had passed while I was in there. After safely negotiating the down then up section I exited onto the downhill road towards the finishing loop and again saw the GREEN t-shirted runner about 250 metres down the road. Carrying on around the final loop and through the hole in the wall I crossed the line to a hug from Lee to be told I wad 3rd place, about 1 minute behind 2nd and 6 minutes behind the winner Kevin. The lad in the GREEN t-shirt was 2nd place, so close to him but unaware I hadn't chased him!!!! Didn't get the chance to ask him but somewhere he must have changed tops.

Top 3 : 1 117 Kevin O'Donoghue 05:06:42 1ST MALE 2 66 Matthew Hunter 05:11:10 2ND MALE 3 83 Gerry Craig 05:12:48 3RD MALE



The rest of the visitors all had a great day running the race and I am sure a few will be back to take the challenge again in the coming years.

MR25 visiting team members and family

Me with my 2 brothers and dad
Race director Lee McLean puts in an amazing shift behind the scenes to offer us such a great race and both Michael and myself through our companies chip in a little and help wherever possible but even we were amazed when the prizegiving began and Lee announced there was now a trophy being awarded for the winning relay team which she has named the 'Craig Cup' , it is only now I am glad she hasn't had to call it the 'Craig Memorial Cup' .  I am sure the competition will now intensify for that particular race going by online comments!!!!!!

Friday, 29 April 2016


After the disappointment of pulling out of the Perth 100km at halfway I had been working on the injury and taking things gently enough to be fully prepared for my 3rd year in a row pacing at the London Marathon. The previous three Sunday long runs were 20+ miles @ 3:30 marathon pace and had all gone relatively comfortably although quite a bit of concentration required to ensure the splits were as even as possible. When you tend to do all of your long steady runs at approximately 7:15-30 minute miles this is not as easy a task as it sounds but I was confident I could pull it off. My race clothing had turned up on the previous week so I had enough time to wear it a few times and break it in although I opted not to use the Adidas Ultraboost running shoes on race day using my Hokas instead for a little more cushioning as the foot repairs.

Race week was hectic at work and I had to work on Saturday morning which was not a problem as Michael had offered to collect my race number and backpack/flag for the race as he was flying down on Friday.
The flight down to London and underground to Green Park negotiated easily I met with Michael at the hotel and we set off in hunt of dinner. My favourite  pre-marathon meal is steak and chips with a couple of beers and astonishingly Michael decided he was going to follow suit and have the same as me for a change ditching his pasta and veg regular nonsense although his was washed down with fizzy water.

Fed and watered we headed back to the hotel and I set about organising my kit for the morning which thankfully was all present and correct as it was now after 9pm and not much I could have done if there was a problem. It all sound easy just disappearing to London to run a race but I had not stopped since 6am and had put in a half shift at work as well.

Not too bad a sleep was had and I could have just rolled over and went back to sleep when the alarm went off at 5:45am. A brief glimpse out the window and I could see today was not going to be the nicest weather day ever on gods earth.

I caught up with a large group of fellow pacers for a photo opportunity pre race, in total there are 43 pacers all tasked with helping fellow runners achieve their goals.

As pacers we get no preferential treatment and we follow the same race rules as everyone else so off we all headed to our individual starts and went through the usual rituals we would do if we were not pacing. What I now know is the red start has a particularly large amount of trees which a large flag can strike and the baggage trucks are as far away from the start as they could possibly get them, I must have been privileged on my previous red starts on the Good for Age start. This was my 12th London marathon and has got to go down as the coldest ever, it was really cold considering it was late April and I just wanted to get moving to heat up. There was a lot of great banter whilst waiting in the holding pens and several runners told me they were going to stick with me as long as they could.

Where's Gerry!!!

I crossed the start line with 2:39 showing on the official clock so had to remember to deduct that from there on, easy at first but after a while the brain starts to wander and with all that is going on around it is rather difficult to remain focused. Glimpsing back occasionally I could tell there was quite a group concentrating on my flag and the miles ticked away nicely chatting to runners hearing their stories and goals for the day. There was hardly a section of the whole route which was not lined with spectators but one fellow stood out about 5 miles standing alone preaching from a bible, don't think he was too impressed with all these folk enjoying themselves on the lords day.

Unfortunately the signal on my Garmin went wonky somewhere around Canary Wharf and I clocked a 5:20 mile and my distance jumped by half a mile meaning I couldn't rely on it anymore so had to resort to auto-pilot and the course clocks, which is where remembering the 2:39 comes in handy!!. I kept on track and as I headed along the embankment with 2 miles to go started encouraging folk who had been with me all the way to push on for the 3:30. One lad who had stuck on my left hand side since halfway was beginning to toil and he couldn't respond much to my words so I slowed a little and told him to just sit tight next to me. I was close for 3;30 but this held me back a little but I was happy the group following had all pushed on a little and were going to hit the target.

Approaching the line I could see I was over 3:30 which was not an issue as the pacers remit is to ***ensure you pace a maximum/minimum of 1:30 either side of target time*** and my official time was 3:31:10 which also include almost wiping the clock and gantry out and having to stop and go back a bit to duck down and attempt it all again.

It gets quite emotional afterwards with folk coming up and thanking you for helping them along and it is a great feeling seeing the delight in peoples faces and emotions as they cross the line.

As is customary after the marathon a quick catch up and a couple of beers with my brothers before shooting back to the airport and flight home, a whirlind weekend and job accomplished.

For those with a keen eye for detail below are my split times :


Time Of Day

Friday, 19 February 2016


It has been a hectic few weeks since the new year and there has been a lot of running involved which as the heading suggests has had a bit of variety in weather conditions. With a bit of paperwork overload from the previous months Mrs Wife kindly suggested/conceded that a few days in Dubai would probably do me good so within a few minutes the marathon was entered and flight booked.

I flew on Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Dubai just after midnight getting to the hotel about 1.30am Thursday to find Michael still awake after reluctantly having to listen to the belly dancer band for a few hours as they were directly below our room. Marathon eve run complete and mega breakfast we headed over to pick up our numbers at the Dubai racecourse.

This was very low key and quick which left us plenty of time to relax and soak up some sun and rest the legs for the early start on Friday morning.

The marathon was starting at 6.30am so we had booked a taxi for 5.30am to take us along to the start but as the marathon route passed our hotel they had closed the roads and nothing could get close so after a hunt around a few streets we hailed the first taxi we could see and asked the driver to put the boot down. Panic over and we made the start with 15 minutes to spare. Not the most inspiring route in the world but pancake flat and great for even splits. We ran together most of the way and i slightly switched off and didn't realise Michael had dropped about 100 yards behind as I rounded the bend towards the finish. I slowed a little and gestured for him to catch me up but he gesticulated politely for me to move on myself. Great times for both of us with me in 2:54:44 and Michael in 2:54:59 and negative splits into the bargain.


Only one thing to do after a hot and sweaty marathon and that is REHYDRATE!!

Happy marathoners with big hotel in background

Great couple days catching up with Michael and I flew back Saturday arriving back in Glasgow at 7.30pm on Saturday evening ready for a sleep as I had a race at Strathclyde Park on Sunday morning.

The vets relay race is a great event and the 3.6 mile loop around the loch certainly gets your lungs opened up as is evident in the following picture as I hand over to Speedo for leg 2.

Next race up was the Kirkie 12.5km on Sunday 14th February and I ran over part of the route in reverse to the start to get my mileage in for the Run Until You Drop challenge. To say it was icy would be an understatement and I have seen races cancelled for much less but it went ahead with only a few minor bumps and scrapes. Running mate James had a particularly good race winning with a clear margin in 45+ minutes. I had a steady run but the RUYD miles are taking their tole and felt sluggish throughout finishing in just over 50 minutes.

It was a great event with 4/5's of team Craig taking part and much fun had catching up with friends from the whole running community.


Team Craig

Me, James and Ada