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Commonwealth Games: Marathon glory for Shelley

Michael Shelley of Australia celebrates after winning the men's marathon in the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Getty

Michael Shelley of Australia celebrates after winning the men's marathon in the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Getty

  • by STEPHEN HALLIDAY
 

DEREK Hawkins certainly isn’t the first Scot to deposit the contents of his stomach on the streets of Glasgow on a Sunday morning after a marathon session.

This, however, was a technicolour yawn with a difference as the 25-year-old from Elderslie approached the end of 26 miles and 385 yards around the city. The crowds at Glasgow Green, matching in size and enthusiasm those who had gathered all around the course, acclaimed the physical exertions of Hawkins as he secured a respectable ninth-placed finish.

For once, the price of drinking too much had been worth it.

“It was a bit embarrassing spewing my guts up at the end,” said Hawkins. “It’s something I’ve been quite prone to in the past. Today I just guzzled too much juice at certain drinks points. At around the 30 kilometre mark, I felt quite full and it was the last time I took on any fluids. When it came up, it certainly looked like the colour of my drinks.

“When the finish line came in sight, it was a case of ‘Thank God it’s nearly over!’ But I really enjoyed it, the noise of the crowd was unbelievable, especially when they started banging the boards at the side of the road.

“In the second half of the race, they were just so loud that they managed to pull me through to the end. It lived up to my expectations, running a ­Commonwealth Games marathon in my own country and, given the standard today, ninth place was as good as I could have hoped for.”

Landmarks old and new, from Glasgow Cross to the Squinty Bridge, were negotiated by the runners on a course which mixed city streets with parkland to impressive effect. One of the free events at the Games, it proved to be a popular Sunday morning attraction ­despite the intermittent rain.

Hawkins finished exactly three minutes behind winner Michael Shelley of Australia, silver medallist in Delhi four years ago, who went one better this time as a new personal best of 2:11:15 saw him upset pre-race favourite Stephen Chemlany of Kenya, who had to ­settle for second place. Abraham Kiplimo of Uganda, despite a fall at the halfway stage, claimed bronze.

Shelley joins a proud tradition of his countrymen to have won Commonwealth gold, stretching back to 1958 champion in Cardiff, Hall of Fame ­athlete Dave Power, who died earlier this year.

“It’s impossible to describe how good this feels,” said Shelley. “There are true legends of Oz running who have won this race and it’s amazing to add my name to the list.”

Shelley’s sense of elation was perhaps matched only by Steve Way, the 40-year-old from England who finished tenth. Seven years ago, Way weighed more than 16 stones and smoked 20 cigarettes a day before watching a marathon on TV persuaded him to ­undertake a radical change in lifestyle, culminating in his appearance at a major championship.

“It’s the best day of my life ever,” he said, wearing a grin you suspected would not be removed for some time. “I’d normally say it is second best to my wedding, but I’m sure my wife won’t mind me saying this matched it.

“I achieved all my goals – a top-ten finish, a personal best and a new British veterans’ record. I was even leading for quite a while at the start, which was good fun. The crowds were great, loads of them seemed to know my story and shouted out my name.

“I took up running because I was at a point of my life where I was really suffering with my smoking and knew things were only going to get worse if I didn’t do something about it. As it’s turned out, I’ve done quite a lot about it. If it inspires just one other person to take up running, I’ll be pleased. But right now, I’m definitely going to have a drink in Glasgow tonight – and it won’t be water!”

In the women’s race, Kenya were not to be denied as the traditional powerhouse of distance running celebrated a one-two with Flomena Daniel taking gold in 2:26:45, breaking clear at the end to finish 25 seconds ahead of her compatriot Caroline Kilel. Australia’s Jess Trengove claimed bronze with a ­personal best of 2:30:12.

There was drama when Beata Naigambo of Namibia collapsed in considerable distress at the end of the race, barely managing to sprawl across the finish line before medics helped her away for treatment.

It was a reminder of just how draining a test of endurance the marathon presents, one which made Susan ­Partridge’s sixth-place finish all the more commendable. For the 34-year-old, it was the third-best performance ever by a Scottish women in a Commonwealth Games marathon.

“It was a great experience and the weather was perfect in the end, not too wet and not too hot,” said Partridge. “Of course it would have been great to get a medal, but the way it was going, that wasn’t going to happen today.

“I ran a reasonable race, put myself in the right positions to try and take ­advantage of any openings and tried to go with people when they were trying to drop me. It was a run I could be proud of and it was fun. There’s nothing I felt I did wrong, so I’ve no regrets.”

No regrets, either, for 42-year-old Hayley Haining in her top level swansong in the sport. The Kilbarchan AC runner finished 13th in a race which tested her emotional self-control as well as her physical condition.

Two months ago, Haining’s much respected coach Derek Parker, the man who persuaded her to try marathon running, passed away.

“It’s not been the easiest build-up and I didn’t really know what I was aiming for,” said Haining. “My main aim was to be conservative and have a strong finish. That’s exactly what I did. I wanted to be able to remember the last few miles and not be half-conscious on my feet.

“I was very emotional coming down the final part of the course. I had to hold myself together, because if I’d started crying, I might not have finished.

“After losing my coach two months ago, it was really important for me to finish today.

“In some places, the noise of the crowd was just deafening. So many people knew my name and were shouting me on, it was absolutely wonderful.

“My son Elliot, who is four next week, was here today to watch. He was with all his pals in Pollok Park.

“It’s nice that he could share it with me today, along with my other family and friends, ­rather than just watch it on the telly or read about it. It was incredible. It was definitely my last race at elite international level, so to finish it off here was very ­important to me.”

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