This year was the second running of the Stirling Marathon with organisers doing a new course sorting out the points that caused negative feedback last year, namely loops, underpasses and shuttle buses. For me is was a short walk, just over a mile, to the start on Millenium Way which has the castle as a backdrop. Weather was ideal, overcast sky and about 6 degrees with minimal wind as we lined up at the start. As the field was quite small, around 2,500 runners, the start area opened at 8:00am and closed twenty minutes later with the start at half past. This meant not too much standing around. Start area also had plenty of water around for a final few sips before the off. This being my first marathon, everyone warned me about going off too fast and I had that in mind when about half of the 2,500 field passed me in the first few hundred yards but I stuck to my planned pace, a tad over 8 minute miles. The route headed out on a relatively straight road, passing the safari park, and on paper looked quiet boring but the support, other runners and views made sure it wasn't. After about two to three miles I was beginning to pass many of those who had started too quickly. At the 7 mile mark we arrived in Doune where the course takes a sharp dip down before a couple of right turns and a short, steep, rise bringing you back up to the road heading east towards Dunblane. The road undulates a bit and travels through some nice scenery with plenty of support roadside, many of them with all sorts of foodstuffs for rhe runners. Coming out of Dunblane the route heads off towards Bridge of Alan crossing the highest point of the route. On the far side of there the route turns left and takes a trip round the grounds of Stirling University where there seems to be more in the way of uphill than downhill though you end up back at almost the same point! It was passing through the grounds I had my first of two gels, the second at 22 miles, washed down with some water I’d picked up close to the university entrance. Leaving the university we caried on, passing close to the Wallace Monument. My wife was waiting at the 17.5 mile point to chear me on before she took the shortcut back to see me, hopefully, at the finish. It wasn’t long after that the unforecast rain started but my that time it was quite welcome. The route then turns left and follows a square round some flatish countryside. By this time I am starting to pass 1/2 marathon runners who started one hour later than us and joined the end of our route. The route then reaches what I would say it the most boring part on the course. A wide, flat, straigh road with two rows of traffic cones to run between. It’s fairly narrow but thankfully the slower runners keep left to allow me to pass on the right. After that we reach the outskirts of Stirling and follow the route back into the city centre. The road finally takes a sharp left turn and brings you along and through the main shopping street before heading slighly uphill towards the finish at Kings Park. By this time there are reasonable crowds along the road but I manage to spot my wife about the 200m to go point. Boyed on by the support I put in, for me, a strong finish and carry on through to the finish area to pick up my medal and goody bag. Had set myself a goal of 4 hours and managed 3:45:35 so very happy.