Race report – Antonine Trail Race
by Don Currie
What have the Romans ever done for us? Well, if nothing else, they built the Antonine Wall, and now, 2,000 or so years later, anyone who feels the urge can pull on their lycra and run along it.
I’m talking about the Antonine Trail Race, which I did for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and fully intend to do again next year. It’s more than a bit special, with a very definite dash of ancient civilisation to add to more traditional run ingredients such as scenery and a bit of a challenge.
The run, which is 13.8 miles long, starts and finishes at a wee sports centre very close to Croy railway station, aka the last stop before Glasgow Queen Street. My plan to go by train was thwarted by Scotrail engineering works that closed the station that weekend, which was a shame as I would have liked a snooze on the way home. So I drove there instead, as did everybody else, but luckily Croy station has a phenomenally huge car park, so there was room for everyone.
After collecting our race numbers and timing chips to attach to our laces, we all assembled for a painstakingly detailed talk-through of the route, milled about for a while in the sunshine and then set off along a tarmac path, which became a cinder track, which became a muddy channel. I won’t describe the entire route, but it did have a lot of varied terrain – hills, woods, fields, streams, a nice bit of canal towpath at Auchinstarry basin, an attractive village or two, a stretch of the River Kelvin and some stony, ridge-like sections which, yes, are what remains of the Antonine Wall.
One bit, in particular, coming up the steep slope of Croy Hill, was very recognisably man-made, rather than being a mere hump in the grass, which most of the wall now is. As I wheezed my way up I did manage to spare a thought for the Roman soldiers from all over Europe who shaped the ground over which my running shoes, made from materials then yet to be invented, would one day plod.
Anyway, said hill was the last prominent landmark before the home stretch, and as I crossed the line I certainly felt I’d done a run. The distance is slightly over half-marathon, but the ups and downs make it feel quite a lot more.
The marshalls were great, the atmosphere among the runners excellent, the bright orange long-sleeved T-shirts most striking, and the whole thing very enjoyable. I’ve just been on the website, nearly three weeks after the event, to see what my position was, and it tells me I finished in 2:07:06, in 107th position. There were 212 finishers, so I was a tantalising one place off finishing in the first half. Great! I now have a goal to aim at for next year.
The Antonine Wall was built round about AD 140, on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and formed the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire. It is 60km long and runs from Old Kilpatrick on the Clyde to Bo’ness on the Forth. It’s not the Great Wall of China, but it does have a certain something.