The Runbetweeners Review 2016

At this time of year (well we’re a week late but most of you will be used to us being late by now) folks normally sit down, reflect on the previous 12 months and plan for the year ahead. It’s been a pretty phenomenal year running wise both on the track (and road, trail and hill) and off it with visits to old and new races near and far including some international excursions, the growth of our own running group and the launch of Rouken Glen Junior parkrun. A year of pb’s for both of us but what have been the highlights?

Between us we have raced a lot in the last year making it hard to narrow down the list to just 10. Therefore we went for 12 So here follows the countdown of our best 12 races from 2016.

Look out for next week’s blog post as we pick 12 races for 2017.

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  1. Springburn parkrun (Kenny) – 14th of May 2016

This one makes the list as I managed to break 19 minutes for the 5k for the first time in a shiny new pb of 18-47 (gaining qualification to the elite sub 19 minute pack at the Harriers). Jack, in the middle of a heavy training schedule, decided to pace on this one allowing me to shadow him around the two loop course. Running in a small pack is something that I’ve learned this year can be extremely effective in pursuit of personal best times. An added bonus on this one was gate-crashing Springburn’s 2nd birthday celebrations meaning there was cake aplenty at the finish.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/happy-birthday-springburn-parkrun/

    11. Polaroid Clydebank 10k (Jack) – 19th May 2017.

The Polaroid series has been a staple of my running calendar for the last few years and in 2016 I approached it in a slightly different way. In the past I had entered all four events but this year I decided to enter just one and to target it for a personal best. I was over the moon to break 33minutes for the first time here and this made it a highlight of the year for me!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/polaroid-clydebank-10k-2016/

  1.  Brian Goodwin 10k (Kenny) – 17th of June 2017

Another pb for me on a brilliant evening in Pollok Park. After dipping under 40 minutes for the first time at Troon a few weeks before, I was delighted to take a good chunk off  my 10k time finishing in 39-30. An annual event, the race is organised by our club – Bellahouston Harriers. Knowing I was pacing the Men’s 10k a couple of days later, I decided to take this one easy but felt good from the start and again used similar runners to pull me along. Moral of the story: if you are feeling in the zone just go for it. A two lap course, the route takes in many of the flatter parts of the park and Haggs Road. To top it off entry includes a beer and a burger. What more could you ask for?

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/brian-goodwin-10k-2/

     9. parkrun du Bois de Bolougne. (Jack) – 26th March 2017.

What better way to spend my birthday that by striding around a Parisian park – they even let me cross the line first (there’s no winning in parkrun, apparently). This was my first international parkrun and was followed with cake and champagne under the Eiffel Tower. An awesome day and a birthday I will never forget!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/a-parisian-parkrun/

  1. #Glasgowparkrunsmashup (Both) – 15th of April 2016

2016’s answer to the Clyde Trail this was the one that was meant to send us trending worldwide. Unfortunately while we were up before dawn the rest of the running world was asleep, uninterested or both. The idea was simple – run each of Glasgow’s 5 parkrun routes in one go arriving at Pollok in time for the 9-30 start. As usual planning a sensible route was almost the undoing of this challenge as we cycled between each of the parks. Much harder than anticipated when the idea was hatched over a beer or two – 15.5 miles of running, more on the bike and very little enthusiasm, interest or support for a daft idea making this everything a good runbetweeners challenge should be Surely still a record? parkrun UK we are still waiting on official notice…

https://twitter.com/search?q=glasgowparkrunsmashup&src=typd

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/glasgow-parkrun-smash-up/

     7. Bushy parkrun (Jack) – 25th December 2016

This Christmas I decided to head back to where it all began and took part in Bushy parkrun. Lining up alongside 1200 other parkrunners for a free 5k run on Christmas morning was incredible and the atmosphere was even better than I had expected. I will definitely be back!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/bushy-parkrun-a-christmas-cracker/

  1. Dunoon Ride and Run (Kenny) – 2nd of April 2016

A momentous day as I topped the podium at this event in my hometown. Put together by the team at No Fuss Events the concept of this one is to bring the cycling enduro concept to running. Basically there are four timed stages and you can walk / jog or sprint between each. A 5k out along the prom is stage 1. Stage 2 is a gentle uphill trail section of around a mile. Stage 3 is two laps of the ash track at the local stadium. The final stage is a trail and road downhill smash up finishing on the newly restored pier. Total times from all four stages are added together and the lowest time wins. Simple. In this case the winner was shocked – especially since I’d taken a wrong turn on the first 5k section. My first and likely only victory – hopefully the event never happens again and I can lay claim to the title for the rest of my running days!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/dunoon-ride-run/

     5. Tom Scott Memorial 10Miler (Jack) – 10th April 2016.

This was a favourite of mine in 2015 also. There is a huge field at this event and there is always an abundance of fast runners. This means that there is usually a good pack to run in. At this year’s event I felt great and managed to run with a brilliant group of good mates who were all hitting good levels at fitness at the same time. The result was a fantastic pack run with a train of Harriers and a big PB for myself.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/tom-scott-memorial-10miler/

  1. The SouthSide Six (SS6) Kenny – 6th of November 2016

One of our absolute favourite races of the year and a Glasgow institution. The only reason the SS6 is not at the top of the list is that it’s been there before. This year Jack gave the run a pass leaving me to join the others toeing the line in this challenging 16-mile course. For those who’ve not done the race before it’s a 6 park tour of the south side painfully climbing to the highest peak in the two hilliest collecting stickers along the way. A brutal finish up the stairs and slopes of Queens Park, this one is always worth it for the excellent feed alone. This route sells out quickly so register for facebook updates to ensure you don’t miss out in 2017.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/southside-six-2016-ss6/

     3. MOKrun 1/2 Marathon (Jack) – 29th May 2016.

Our third visit to the Mull of Kintyre and, despite not coming home with the trophy, we still loved the experience of the weekend. A friendly, well organised event with a fantastic route and a brilliant post-run Ceilidh. Magic.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/running-a-mok-in-campbeltown/

      2. TCS Amsterdam Marathon 2016 (Jack) – 16th October 2016.

After four months of focused training, I finally made my way over to Amsterdam in an attempt at a new pb. A brilliant weekend and my first international Marathon – I’m sure it wont be the last!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/amsterdam-marathon-2016/
And the number 1 race of 2016 in our humble opinion….

  1. Kyles 10 Miles (Both) – 10th of September 2016

This was our second visit to the Kyles of Bute and this race did not disappoint. A challenging and hilly route the 10 mile distance is a good marker to test out speed endurance. Guaranteed good weather (we’ve been twice and it’s been sunny both times), unbelievable scenery, beer on tap at the end and a BBQ followed by a ceilidh in the evening. A cracking race; low key, excellently marshalled, reasonably priced and growing in popularity year on year. A worthy winner of the title of 2016 Runbetweeners Race of the Year.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/kyles-10-miles-2/

 

Finally, a short footnote to those races that didn’t quite go to plan in 2016. No prizes for guessing which race ends up in the number 1 slot. Bang goes the idea that the runbetweeners will ever make our fortune Stateside…

 

  1. Toward for a Tenner (Kenny) – 6th of August 2016

Before I go on – Jack won this race, it was brilliantly and cheerfully marshaled, well organised and positively reviewed by local and visiting runners. I’ll be going back in 2017 and this race offers excellent value relative to other similar half marathons.  The addition of a 10k race makes this an inclusive running festival. Any negative feedback that follows is down to my own race naivety. On a positive note I suppose you learn more from the nightmare races than the ones that go well but this was everything that could go wrong in one race for me.

Starting far too fast and thinking I was in much better shape than I was, I decided to launch an attack on a near 5 minute pb on this one. There is no excuse really as this is my neck of the woods therefore I should have anticipated the wind factor which made running out in the first half a much more demanding effort than it would otherwise have been. Struggling badly the group I was in gradually put some serious distance between me and them as a stream of runners gradually passed me with words of genuine encouragement.

 

However I couldn’t help but slow to a near standstill by mile 7 reaching a point of exhaustion usually associated with a heavy session of sprint intervals or hill reps. Burned out by half way I managed to drag myself home thanks to the support and encouragement of my friends from Dunoon Hill Runners who were out in force (plus the fact is was an out and back course and all my gear was back at the start line). The first race I’ve run/walked in a long time and a massive positive split on the second half of the race. Meeting a friend who suffered an underwear malfunction and was running pantless for the final miles perked my spirits at mile 10 giving me the last ounce of strength to jog home the final 3 miles. The closest I’ve come to DNF’ing yet.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/toward-for-a-tenner/

  1. Nationals – Short Course X Country (Kenny) – 5th of November 2016

Not a bad run – in fact I ran pretty well. Also not down do my hatred for the terrain as I’ve enjoyed the x-country much more this year. Perhaps I’m developing a love for the grass and mud as I become more experienced, fitter or maybe it was just down to the fact the weather has been much better than equivalent events in 2015.

This had all the ingredients to be a good one – I’d been training well, top athletes such as Laura Muir were competing and the event was reasonably close by meaning we could get there early enough to see some of the top junior and female races.

However the choice of venue was a strange one. The route was a two lap, pancake flat circuit around a playing field. Single file around the park perimeter the route lacked imagination or the challenge you would normally associate with such a prestigious race in the Scottish Athletics’ calendar. As a result it didn’t get a look in on the blog. Shame.

The worst race of 2016 award goes to…

1. Sommer Sports Florida Clermont 5k (Jack) – July 2016

You will have heard me rant about this one before I am sure but what kind of race doesn’t set up the finish line! Having got up early on my honeymoon to go and race this 5k in Florida, I was loving leading the pack for the whole race. I built myself up a nice lead and kept running for the finish – only to find that the finish line wasn’t there yet! I kept running down the road until I realised there was a problem and when I turned back the finish line had been constructed behind me! Witnesses at the end of the race spoke to the organisers and it was decided that I would still get the trophy but an angry competitor (relegated to second place) kick up a fuss and I did not get it. The organisers then ignored my email (I know I got petty!) and refused to respond to my questions on Twitter. I’m going to stop writing about it now because it’s getting me angry again haha -for more info read the review 😉

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/there-is-no-finish-line/

 

 

Run to the Hills!

Last week I fell victim to Kenny’s latest scheme – taking on a hill run! I have always been intrigued by the concept of hill running and have often thought that I would actually quite like to give one a go. I do enjoy getting off road and exploring when out for a run so I figured that powering up and down a hill could be fun! When it transpired therefore that Kenny, Iain and Paul – all fellow Harriers – would be heading out to Tinto for a 4.5 mile challenge, I found myself signing up.

After a journey filled with whispers of the difficulty that would face us, we arrived at the base of the hill. And what a hill it was! Tinto towered over us as we collected our numbers and prepared for the race.

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With the Renfrewshire X-Country Championships coming up the following week, I had been advised to watch my footing during this event – the loose, rocky surface and rapid descent could potentially be hazardous. With this in mind, I decided to use the run more as a training exercise than a flat out race and I am definitely glad that I made that decision!

Standing at the base of the hill, I tucked myself into the middle of the pack and, on the gun, began my ascent. I made a conservative start, aware of the long climb ahead, and found myself slowly moving up the field. At about two-thirds of the way up I started to really feel the burn in my quads and, as the runners around me slowed to a walk, I joined them and found myself striding up the hill for much of the final section.

GOPR1830.JPGCircling the cairn at the top of the hill, I decided to try and stretch the legs out on the way down in order to make up a few places. I took a dozen speedy strides down the hill before I realised that I had absolutely no control over my pace! Panic set in and I reminded myself of the other races on the horizon. I settled into a pace which I found fast enough but at which I still felt I was in control of my legs (just about!) and less likely to do myself some damage.

At about half way down the hill, the path became a little more clear and I was able to push the pace on a bit and finish the race with a sprint. On the descent I had been overtaken once and had managed to overtake one person myself, leaving me sitting in 18th position. The other Harriers had put in some decent performances also with Iain finishing 69th, Kenny 90th and Paul in 95th despite a fall on the way down.

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Sitting in the cafe afterwards with a pot of tea and a huge scone, we reflected on the afternoon’s race. I had enjoyed the experience but I felt a little lackluster about the race itself. The event was very well organised, great value and had a brilliant atmosphere but I did not feel challenged in the same way that I do when racing on the roads. I felt that my commitment to a number of other races meant I was unable to really commit to the downhill section and therefore did not feel that I had pushed my body physically. I believe that, were I a committed hill runner, and that this had been my target race of the season, I would have got more out of it but it felt like I had too much to lose by really pushing it.

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I’m sure loads of people will disagree with me but I came away thinking road running is more of a challenge. When you have no ‘obstacle’ to overcome, the ‘race’ becomes more pure – there is nothing to hide behind other than your own fitness. Over a 10km flat road race, for example,  I can push my body to its absolute limit. In future I will continue to run on hills but I think I will only use them as training runs – they don’t mean enough to me to risk injuring myself and ruining my season. This was a fun day out, and a good experience, but I haven’t been converted to hill running just yet!

 

Bulletproof Bootcamp

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Racing to be fit for the wedding:

For the second spring in a row I have just finished a six week bootcamp at Glasgow Fitness Gym in Thornliebank. For those unfamiliar with the bootcamp philosophy it is essentially a short, intense series of classes to improve fitness. A lot of people use these sessions to get in better shape, detox and to vary their training regime. For me I was definitely aiming to build my core fitness, compliment the start of the racing season and lose some of the winter weight gain. The wedding is now just over a week away and in my head I had the added motivation of getting in good shape for the big day.

Many bootcamps have popped up all over the city and The Boy even dipped his toe in the waters with a short stint running a camp out of Victoria and Kelvingrove Park when he first moved to the city. I have been to the Bulletproof Bootcamp twice before as I know Dip Sekhon (instructor) very well. The gym has the added bonus of being located 5 minutes drive from work. I would recommend the camp to anyone who is looking to be pushed hard and up for introducing new activities to their training regime. In additional I wanted to see whether an element of cross training would benefit or hinder my running?

The camp comprises four morning (or evenings – or both if you are proper hardcore) sessions a week. I opt for morning classes which are 6-30am to 7-30am. My colleagues think this is crazy but I am the type of person that hates getting up whatever time and I would rather get the class out of the way.

Morning fear when you have to set this up! Only slept in once the whole time though
Morning fear when you have to set this up! Only slept in once the whole time though

All of the classes comprise of a gradual warm up which increases in intensity over the first 15-20 minutes of the session to loosen the joints and pick up the heart rate. Calling it a warm up by the end often seems like madness as challenging as many of the exercises that come later in the hour. Sessions vary providing a good mix for those who like to try different things and the result is a weekly regime that gives a good all round balance of strength, speed, conditioning and endurance. Typically sessions include:

1. Tabata Circuits – short intense bursts of exercise including burpees, push ups, kettle bell swings, shuttle runs etc.

2. Boxing / Muay Thai – the gym specialises in boxing and TKD and Muay Thai amongst other martial arts. These classes are in a padded cage which is pretty cool

3. A Barbell class

4. Running – the only thing I actually perform competently at

Each session is tough and you won’t leave feeling anything other than you have  had a brutal work out, in a good way. The weights session in particular is a good addition to my regular training where my upper body is totally neglected. I am shamefully weak as seen by embarrassingly poor performance anytime push ups are on the menu.

Additional weight optional to improve upper body strenth
Additional weight optional to improve upper body strength

My favourite session this time around (aside from the sprint session on the track) has been the circuits. I like the variation in exercise and we usually complete four x seven minute rounds in pairs. For those who are competitive there is an element of challenge vs your partner but the fundamental thing about bootcamp is personal improvement.

I enjoy all of the workouts but in terms of the exercises within them there are some I would rather avoid. Aside from the push ups the others that are horrible are the cards game where we have to do a set number of exercise depending on which card comes out the pack (screw you Aces and Joker), bear crawl and anything that involves twisting of the core. The good thing about Dip is he senses your achilles heel and gives you more punishment so that you get the maximum individual gain from the experience. No pain no gain certainly runs through your mind a lot during these classes as you are working at your limit. Dip and Harry make sure they motivate you to give you best during the sessions.

Weekly fitness tests at the end of the class are used to chart progress and Body-Fat is calculated pre and post bootcamp. Alongside the classes Dip also moderates a Facebook nutrition page for people attending the camp giving lots of good ideas about eating more healthily and in moderation.

The Morning Crew
The Morning Crew

The group that attend are extremely mixed with people looking to get back into a fitness routine through to high level amateur and professional athletes keeping fit on their off season giving an indication of how highly thought of the training is and how well Dip caters to different fitness needs. Participants come from all different backgrounds and the number of people returning to the bootcamp and making it the main part of their fitness programme is testament to the quality of training and facility at Glasgow Fitness. The classes are tough but fun and are accompanied by motivational music. A nutrition Facebook page is also offered to give ideas and share recipes about healthier eating – I promise I didn’t eat any junk during bootcamp 🙂

So has attending Bulletproof Bootcamp helped or hindered my running?

Once again the combination of racing and bootcamp has worked well for me delivering me into good race shape during the Polaroid Series after a relatively quiet winter. I have achieved my 3rd and 4th fastest ever 10k times in the last month. This is despite the fact that the class on a Thursday morning has meant I have doubled up on the days of my 10ks. Last year I ran my fastest ever 10k and 5k while I was completing bootcamp showing that it has most definitely improved my core fitness and as a result my speed and medium distance endurance.

Overall the camp has shown me that a greater variety is required in my training to improve my base fitness. Classes focus a lot on core strength and key exercises have developed this for the benefit of my running. When I am not at bootcamp I use a lot of these exercises on my rest days at home. There is no hiding at Bootcamp and Dip and Harry work well to ensure everyone is giving their all meaning you are going to see some real benefits and changes to your body definition over the 6 weeks.

The next bootcamp at Glasgow Fitness is a shorter 4 week block which would be an ideal opportunity for anyone looking to vary their training and try something different over the summer. For me I will definitely be completing a block of training with Dip two or three times a year to give me a different focus from running sessions comprising 100% of my training whilst providing a platform that compliments and enhances what I am doing with my running.

If anyone is interested in finding out more the best way would be to look up the camp on Facebook and contact Dip that way.

https://www.facebook.com/bulletprooftraining?fref=ts

http://bulletproofbootcamp.ebspages.co.uk

CLYDE AND SEEK

An oldy but a goody!

Jack Arnold – Bellahouston Harriers

Kenny Taylor – Dunoon Hill Runners and Westerlands Cross Country Club

 

Scouting out the route the week before
Scouting out the route the week before

Clyde, the aptly named mascot, was one of the stars of the recent Commonwealth Games held in our home city of Glasgow. The Thistle themed character appeared at venues, around the city and even managed to be cast in steel for his own series of statues across the city. Inspired by the success of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two school teachers on their summer holidays with too much time on their hands set off to run all 29 Clyde mascots on Wednesday the 6th of August.

After studying the map we decided to start out in the west of the city and met in the Botanic Gardens. Together we estimated that a 13 mile easy paced trot around the city lay ahead of us and we set off in high spirits.

There are 29 Clydes in total spread across the city and the early morning saw us move onwards to Victoria Park before circling back to the Clyde at the Riverside Museum. 3 Clydes down and we were approaching 5 miles on the Garmins, not the easy start that we had expected and perhaps the first signs that the Geography teacher should not have been in charge of deciding the best route to navigate the city. Doubts were starting to creep into our minds about the size of the challenge ahead of us.

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Mid-morning saw us check off a number of West End Clydes in relatively quick succession including those at Yorkhill Hospital, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Kelvingrove Park. Re-energised we moved through the city centre collecting more QR codes on Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Bus Station and Queen Street Station. The QR codes on each statue were scanned using an app to chart progress towards completion of the trail. Looking online many families had taken this up as a challenge over the duration of the Games and we met many on route keen to be photographed with Clyde and positive about the Games.

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After queueing for a photo with the Big G in George Square (not technically a Clyde Statue but part of the official Clyde’s Trail route) and collecting another two Clydes on Buchanan Street and St. Enoch Square we broke for lunch and reevaluated our route. We were 1/3rd of the way through our challenge and at the 9 mile mark. And it was lunch – we were meant to be in the pub by lunch!

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Unperturbed we made out East passing through Glasgow Cross and Parkhead before touching base with Clyde in Tollcross Park home to the swimming events during the Games. By this point fatigue was setting in but we managed to sum up the enthusiasm to bound back towards the city centre at 8.5 minute mile pace – our fastest of the day. Clyde’s were scanned and photographs were taken at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and Bridgeton cross before we made our way to Glasgow Green. Security was tight and we had to get the long lens out to photograph the second giant Clyde of the day due to the dismantling of the Games Park.

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Legs were tiring fast so we stopped for second lunch on the banks of the Clyde. A quick scan of the Garmin showed we had passed half marathon distance expected and were now sitting at 15 miles. After looking at the map again we realised we had to cross the city en route to the BBC before crossing for statues in the South of the city. Heads down time as we collected statues at Broomielaw and Lancefield Quay before catching glimpse of the Hydro and Exhibition Centre where so much great action had taken place the week before.

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Crossing the Squinty Bridge and heading to the BBC we were buoyed by a chance encounter with an ex-colleague visiting the Science Centre with his son – in true Glasgow spirit we were reminded that our little jog was nothing on his mammoth task of entertaining a toddler for 6 weeks.

Desperate by now to finish we checked off Ibrox, home of the Rugby 7s, and made the long run along Paisley Road West to visit Clyde in The Gorbals before cutting south to Hampden and our temporary athletics stadium. Another pit stop saw a few more energy drinks guzzled and stockpiles of sweets replenished for the home straight.

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Map out again we decided to head to King’s Park before finishing the route in Queen’s Park with the final statue and giant wooden Clyde sculpture. Whether it was fatigue, delirium or poor map reading skills again the King’s Cross Clyde proved the hardest to find at a time when we would gladly have kissed his feet to appear in front of us. Feet shuffling much more slowly we quickened the pace yet barely noticed as the watches died on us. 6 and a half hours later we finished having clocked up an estimated 27 miles – passing our personal furthest distance of the marathon without even planning it.

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The beer, crisps, chocolate, coke and lucozade consumed at the nearest pub to the finish line went down a treat and sore legs were glad of a seat. Given the buzz that we witnessed as we visited each statue it was sad to hear the next day that the Clyde on Edmiston Drive had gone missing, presumed stolen, and that the other outdoor statues were to be removed for safe keeping. Despite what people who know us might say we both have strong alibis of being asleep the next morning when he was knocked!

The trail was great fun but maybe not the casual run we had anticipated. People Make Glasgow who monitor and promote the trail said on Twitter that we were the only people they had heard of who had actually run the trail and it is not surprising. Despite how much tougher the route panned out than anticipated it was great to be out and about and soak up the last of the Commonwealth spirit and we both had a great laugh the way you only can when things do not quite go to plan. It is sad that the challenge is no longer there for others to try but gives us both the best shout at a course record we will probably ever get!

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In numbers the day panned out as follows:

– 29 Clyde statues, hedges and wooden replicas of the mascot himself visited

– 27 miles covered across Glasgow in total – the furthest either of us had ever run – Jack also ran 2 miles to the start line!

– 12 (approximately) strangers who expressed interest in our tour of all the clyde mascots

– 7 hours – yip 7 hours on our feet

– 6 parks visited (Botanics, Victoria, Tollcross, Glasgow Green, Kings Park, Queens Park)

– 3 the number of Clydes who had their QR code removed meaning our score card is not perfect (we do have a photo at all 29 destinations though

– 3 bottles of energy drink each

– 1 Clyde that had to be viewed from a safety perimeter fence which Jack and I tried to breach

– 1 Clyde covered in rice and curry sauce

– 0 the number of times our epic adventure retweeted or trended on Twitter despite trying to drum up support throughout the day online!

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http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/558662067