Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Chris Moon a pie and two halfs half marathon

I spotted this intriguingly named race a few weeks ago and the promise of a mainly downhill half marathon certainly sounded appealing! This was a point to point race starting with a 7 mile loop of undulating forest trails around the Whitelees windfarm in South Lanarkshire, followed by a mainly downhill run into Strathaven along quiet country lanes. Proceeds were in aid of the The Erskine Hospital-a charity organisation that cares for and employs ex-servicemen and so there were no T shirts or medals - just a coach trip to the start and a pie and a pint afterwards. Sounded great and I entered straight away even though it meant I would be running 5 races in 2 weeks.

This was the first time this race had taken place and so it was a small group of runners taking part and none of us knew what to expect of the course. The buses dropped us off at the entrance to the forest and within a short walk we were at the start and ready to go. The forest trails were pretty good but a bit rocky in places and despite a short climb at the start, the first mile was fast. A steep climb to the 2 mile marker followed and then we were running along some undulating paths in the shadow of the huge wind turbines that seemed to stretch for miles. Two leaders had disappeared into the distance by this stage, third and fourth were gradually pulling away from me and I was running neck and neck with local runner, Ian Hughes from Calderglen Harriers, in fifth and sixth places. I had narrowly beaten Ian a few weeks ago at the Monklands Half Marathon and by the looks of the youngsters ahead of us and the large gap opening up behind us, we were scrapping for the vets prize. Worryingly, Ian was pulling away from me on the hills but I was catching him and easing past him on the downhill stretches.
Before long we were out onto the road and I was looking forward to the downhill running to the finish. Mile 8 didn't disappoint and it was fast, very fast but then we were going back uphill and with the help of some local supporters urging him on my rival had pulled away from me. He passed the fourth placed runner who was slowing as I also caught him. I recognised his Irn Bru vest - it was the runner that appeared in all the Scottish papers having collapsed within sight of the finish line at the Edinburgh Marathon and was helped to his feet and over the line by another runner. Considering that was just two weeks ago I couldn't believe he was back racing so soon and running well. I chatted with him about his Edinburgh experience and he told me that despite his problems on the finish straight he ran 3.00.12 in his first ever marathon. Amazingly, the runner who heroically sacrificed his own time to help a fellow runner in distress did dip under three hours on chip timing because he started from further back in the field.

I pushed on and despite the promise of downhill, it certainly didn't feel like it with some long steep climbs as well as downhill sections. Before long we were running into Strathaven and I could see Ian Hughes was flying and had caught up another runner to take third overall. I held on to fifth place and second vet - so my only reward this time was a glass of water and a Jaffa Cake on the finish line.

This was a tough but enjoyable race. I hope it is not the first and last Chris Moon Half. Only 60 runners took part but I am sure it will gain in popularity in the future. There were at least three other races on in and around Glasgow on the same day but this is ideal for anyone looking for a challenging, low key, small and friendly race. The pie and ale were good too. A great day out.


Chris Moon is a former Army officer with operational experience who worked for a charity clearing landmines in Asia and Africa is one of the few westerners to have survived kidnap by the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Cambodia.

Two years later he was blown up in a remote minefield in East Africa. He was walking in a supposedly cleared area in Mozambique in 1995 when the blast resulted in the loss of his lower right arm and leg. Doctors say he survived against the odds due to his determination and fitness.
Within a year of leaving hospital he successfully completed the London Marathon and a Masters Degree in Security Management.

He's done numerous marathons and many of the world's toughest ultra marathons including the Great Sahara Run and Badwater the 135-mile continuous ultra through Death Valley to the mountains.

He's taken parties to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and run the length of Cambodia to raise funds for charities assisting the disabled

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