Usually when seeing an advert for a ‘virtual race’ the best thing to do is click ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ and hide it, but usually there is a proper race to look forward to. With none of them on the horizon just now the Scottish Athletics TruWealth Virtual Road Relays proved a surprisingly enjoyable distraction. This give an opportunity to get some team competition after the actual road relays were cancelled a fortnight previously.

We probably shouldn’t get too carried away with self-timed runs on unmeasured courses but there were undoubtedly some excellent performances among the 33 PH Racing Club athletes taking part. The Women’s team finished 6th overall and the Men’s A team were a very credible 7th. Some quick runs by Mark Mclean, Iain Taylor and Alan Cockburn as the deadline approached on Easter Monday, combined with Wright Beveridge’s Good Friday 5k, catapulted the Men’s V50s into 3rd position. We are unsure if this constitutes a national medal…

In the Women’s team Gayle Lindsay got things started with a 19:12 5k on the island of Bermuda. Zoe Stuart ran her own 5k at our very own Pan Handle Loop and her time of 20:32 bodes well for an official PB once lockdown is lifted. Jennifer Caldwell was the other 5k runner in the team with 23:01. Kristin Lownie and Julie Menzies also ran at the Loop and both ran much faster than their own PBs, Kristin the fastest V35 in 37:43 and Julie second quickest V45 in 40:14. Completing the team was Susan Wilson, running 45:53 in her first outing since joining PH Racing Club. Clare Graham also contributed a 5k and special mention must also go to Kat Lindsay who ran a 5k in the British Virgin Islands. While her time didn’t look that impressive on paper it is more so when you see that the route was a series of 150m loops including running up and down some stairs and along a balcony.

We managed enough submissions to fill four complete men’s teams and we won’t list all here but the A team comprised Paul Kieran (16:19), Michael McConnell (16:45) and Andrew Davis (17:11) for the 5ks, with Paul the fastest V45 in the competition. Dan Monaghan was the first to admit that his 10k time of 32:25 on short looped course owed something to GPS inaccuracies but it does highlight the form he had put himself in for the postponed Manchester Marathon. Jonathan Peebles showed he is returning well from injury with a time of 34:31 and Craig Paterson, another athlete in excellent form and unable to compete in Manchester, completed the team in 35:59.

The B team comprised Alan McGowan, who clocked the same time as Davis, Andy Jannetta and Martin Butcher for 5k, and Oliver Koch, Graeme Doig and Mark Mclean for 10k. A number of these athletes also clocked times close to or faster than their official PBs, as did Chris Stuart, Michael Lindsay and Billy Stewart in the C team. Well done also to Malcolm Hammond who was the fastest in the V65 category timing himself at 22:11.

As well as the Virtual Relays we have been doing our best to keep up training in a socially distanced fashion. Our training sessions provided by coach Ben Hukins have been shared on our public Facebook page in the hope that some athletes from other sports that cannot be played just now may wish to engage with them. Ben is also setting a series of ‘Coach’s Coronavirus Challenges’ to encourage some competition among members. The first of these was a handicapped 2 laps of The Loop which has been followed by a task to gain as much elevation as possible during an elapsed time of 20 mins, while avoiding certain local hills. Both of these challenges have got members interested and reinvigorated, which can only be a good thing.

Other stuff going on has included a weekly quiz on Zoom hosted by various members so far and the inaugural ‘Orchard Grove Marathon’. Martin Butcher seemingly misinterpreted the lockdown as having banned us from leaving our street and inexplicably ran a marathon made up of 0.21 mile loops in his slippers. With a time of 3:27 it wasn’t his fastest marathon but certainly got the desired attention on social media.

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Main photo from Bobby Gavin/Scottish Athletics