Run Number n/a : Scotland – Blackwood

Who’d have thought a simple lads’ week-end could raise so many political and moral issues?

Phil, Brian, Adrian, Philip, Martin and I were going to Scotland to visit Richard and Robyn at their new home and, of course, the major issue on my mind was whether I needed to run a 10 km in Scotland.

Scotland isn’t currently an independent country but in September 2014 it might vote for independence. And one of the often over-looked ramifications of Scottish independence is that it would require me to run a 10 km in Scotland.

The issue of independence is at the forefront of debate in Scotland as I was forcefully reminded when I picked up the Daily Record on our train from Carlisle to Lockerbie. Every article on politics and current affairs seemed to take it as a given that Westminster was adopting politics / taking actions that didn’t work in Scotland – or which were deliberately designed to damage Scotland. Very different from down south where you’ll obviously also find plenty of people critical of government – but probably not many who think Scotland is being deliberately discriminated against.

There’s much to be said about Scottish independence but I’ll restrict myself to a couple of thoughts. Firstly, it seems democratically odd that only one party to a union of four gets to vote on the future of that union. And secondly, if the opinion polls are to be believed, then one of the parts that doesn’t have a vote (England) would be more likely to vote for Scottish independence than the part that does (Scotland).

The second issue was that the boys were going pheasant shooting and would I go with them? I like shooting at clay pigeons, I eat meat – why wouldn’t I go? But, in the end, I decided I just couldn’t kill live animals for fun.

I did however go along on the shoot and, to be fair, not much actual killing went on. Indeed I believe the boys, aka the Pheasant Protection Society, recorded the lowest hits to shots ratio in history…  

We all had lunch afterwards with the beaters and gamekeepers and we got to hear more about local life and the benefits that shooting brings (and, yes, more about evil England as well). I guess the main pro-shooting argument is that, in an area without many employment opportunities, it brings in a lot of work and income. It’s also a lot closer to farming than I’d realised. The pheasants are only there because of the investment made by the landowners and because the game keepers get up at 4am every morning to ensure the birds are fed and have safe enclosures when they’re young etc. Everyone will have their own view but it was good to hear the ‘country’ view.

And the run itself? Well, I did it on the Sunday morning and, as any fool knows, Sunday mornings on boys’ week-ends are for hearty breakfasts, a couple of paracetamols and a gentle walk to get some fresh air. 10km runs aren’t really recommended – especially on a route with plenty of hill. It was a pretty slow, painful first kilometre but after that the fresh air and the beauty of the area won out and I ended up enjoying it.

In fact overall it was a very fine week-end. Thank you Richard and Robyn for the excellent hospitality and the rest of the team for the banter and deep respect for my views…


Date : 24th November, 2013

Time :  52’ 38”

Total Distance Run to date : 60 km (70 km if Scotland becomes independent)

About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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