The Clyde Trail

by Kenny Taylor

Run completed by: Jack Arnold – Bellahouston Harriers and Kenny Taylor – Dunoon Hill Runners and Westerlands Cross Country Club

Clyde, the aptly named mascot, was one of the stars of the recent Commonwealth Games held in our home city of Glasgow. The Thistle themed character appeared at venues, around the city and even managed to be cast in steel for his own series of statues across the city. Inspired by the success of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two school teachers on their summer holidays with too much time on their hands set off to run all 29 Clyde mascots on Wednesday the 6th of August.

After studying the map we decided to start out in the west of the city and met in the Botanic Gardens. Together we estimated that a 13 mile easy paced trot around the city lay ahead of us and we set off in high spirits.

There are 29 Clydes in total spread across the city and the early morning saw us move onwards to Victoria Park before circling back to the Clyde at the Riverside Museum. 3 Clydes down and we were approaching 5 miles on the Garmins, not the easy start that we had expected and perhaps the first signs that the Geography teacher should not have been in charge of deciding the best route to navigate the city. Doubts were starting to creep into our minds about the size of the challenge ahead of us.

Mid-morning saw us check off a number of West End Clydes in relatively quick succession including those at Yorkhill Hospital, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Kelvingrove Park.

Re-energised we moved through the city centre collecting more QR codes on Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Bus Station and Queen Street Station. The QR codes on each statue were scanned using an app to chart progress towards completion of the trail. Looking online many families had taken this up as a challenge over the duration of the Games and we met many on route keen to be photographed with Clyde and positive about the Games.

After queueing for a photo with the Big G in George Square (not technically a Clyde Statue but part of the official Clyde’s Trail route) and collecting another two Clydes on Buchanan Street and St. Enoch Square we broke for lunch and reevaluated our route. We were 1/3rd of the way through our challenge and at the 9 mile mark. And it was lunch – we were meant to be in the pub by lunch!

Unperturbed we made out East passing through Glasgow Cross and Parkhead before touching base with Clyde in Tollcross Park home to the swimming events during the Games. By this point fatigue was setting in but we managed to sum up the enthusiasm to bound back towards the city centre at 8.5 minute mile pace – our fastest of the day. Clydes were scanned and photographs were taken at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and Bridgeton cross before we made our way to Glasgow Green. Security was tight and we had to get the long lens out to photograph the second giant Clyde of the day due to the dismantling of the Games Park.

Legs were tiring fast so we stopped for second lunch on the banks of the Clyde. A quick scan of the Garmin showed we had passed half marathon distance expected and were now sitting at 15 miles. After looking at the map again we realised we had to cross the city en route to the BBC before crossing for statues in the South of the city. Heads down time as we collected statues at Broomielaw and Lancefield Quay before catching glimpse of the Hydro and Exhibition Centre where so much great action had taken place the week before.

Crossing the Squinty Bridge and heading to the BBC we were buoyed by a chance encounter with an ex-colleague visiting the Science Centre with his son – in true Glasgow spirit we were reminded that our little jog was nothing on his mammoth task of entertaining a toddler for 6 weeks.

Desperate by now to finish we checked off Ibrox, home of the Rugby 7s, and made the long run along Paisley Road West to visit Clyde in The Gorbals before cutting south to Hampden and our temporary athletics stadium. Another pit stop saw a few more energy drinks guzzled and stockpiles of sweets replenished for the home straight.

Map out again we decided to head to King’s Park before finishing the route in Queen’s Park with the final statue and giant wooden Clyde sculpture. Whether it was fatigue, delirium or poor map reading skills again the King’s Cross Clyde proved the hardest to find at a time when we would gladly have kissed his feet to appear in front of us. Feet shuffling much more slowly we quickened the pace yet barely noticed as the watches died on us. 6 and a half hours later we finished having clocked up an estimated 27 miles – passing our personal furthest distance of the marathon without even planning it.

The beer, crisps, chocolate, coke and lucozade consumed at the nearest pub to the finish line went down a treat and sore legs were glad of a seat. Given the buzz that we witnessed as we visited each statue it was sad to hear the next day that the Clyde on Edmiston Drive had gone missing, presumed stolen, and that the other outdoor statues were to be removed for safe keeping. Despite what people who know us might say we both have strong alibis of being asleep the next morning when he was knocked!

The trail was great fun but maybe not the casual run we had anticipated. People Make Glasgow who monitor and promote the trail said on Twitter that we were the only people they had heard of who had actually run the trail and it is not surprising. Despite how much tougher the route panned out than anticipated it was great to be out and about and soak up the last of the Commonwealth spirit and we both had a great laugh the way you only can when things do not quite go to plan. It is sad that the challenge is no longer there for others to try but gives us both the best shout at a course record we will probably ever get!

In numbers the day panned out as follows:

  • 29 Clyde statues, hedges and wooden replicas of the mascot himself visited
  • 7 miles covered across Glasgow in total – the furthest either of us had ever run – Jack also ran 2 miles to the start line!
  • 12 (approximately) strangers who expressed interest in our tour of all the Clyde mascots
  • 7 hours – yip 7 hours on our feet
  • 6 parks visited (Botanics, Victoria, Tollcross, Glasgow Green, Kings Park, Queens Park)
  • 3 the number of Clydes who had their QR code removed meaning our score card is not perfect (we do have a photo at all 29 destinations though
  • 3 bottles of energy drink each
  • 1 Clyde that had to be viewed from a safety perimeter fence which Jack and I tried to breach
  • 1 Clyde covered in rice and curry sauce
  •  0 the number of times our epic adventure retweeted or trended on Twitter despite trying to drum up support throughout the day online!

See our activity on Garmin.

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