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The Wolf Man of Harrisburg

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

“When I run, I never try to beat anyone in my age group, I try to beat everybody. I think I am just a 25-year-old wolf.”


Harrisburg marathon pot-hunter Doug Fernandez.

These were the words of 54-year-old American Doug Fernandez on winning the Harrisburg Marathon in 2:40:23 last Sunday.

He added: “The key is not to put age barriers in your mind, and you’ll do so much better. People get old, prematurely, in their minds. You’ve always got to think that you’re young.”

Hear hear. Too right Doug. Almost Steve Way-like in terms of inspiration for us over-40s.

Of course it’s easier to “beat everybody” in Harrisburg than London. But then, Doug would know this, because it turns out he’s a pot-hunter too.

According to Runner’s World: “Because Fernandez mostly runs bigger marathons, he acknowledges that winning his age group is usually the best he can hope for. ‘I’m not going to beat the Kenyans,’ he said.

“Heading into Sunday’s race, however, Fernandez had researched the past winning times and knew that winning was within the realm of possibility.

“‘You never know. It’s all about who shows up,’ he said. ‘I figured if I ran 2:40, if I didn’t win it, maybe I’d be in the top five at least.'”

Pot-Hunting Fall-Out

It’s been an interesting week for me on the running front.

My pot-hunting post has gone viral and provoked mixed opinions among fellow runners worldwide. It turns out there are three types of pot-hunters:

#1: People like me, who are just about good enough to place in obscure races, at least in one’s age category. They tend to have a laugh at the glorious futility of it all.

#2: Runners that little bit faster, who are practised pot-hunters, in the truest sense of the word. If they turn up at the Arran Marathon or the Land’s End 10k, they expect to win it. They take it a bit more seriously, don’t mind a ribbing, but like to point out that they also do rather well in more competitive races.

#3: Slightly more proficient runners who are in a state of pot-hunting denial even though their running CV would suggest otherwise. Whatever you do, do not jokingly suggest they may be pot-hunters. They tend to take it as an affront to their running purity.

And a late entrant, saving the best to last, the completely off-the-scale pot-hunter. I was chatting to a Giffnock North clubmate today. And she told me of a man who once won a village 10k. After a quick cool-down he then lined up for the 5k family fun run. At this point, it is not clear whether he didn’t have kids or just left his kids at the start line. Either way he bolted on the starter’s pistol and romped home in first place. No shame.


My running this week has been relaxed. Thirty miles. I nearly even bagged myself a virtual pot at the Pollok parkrun. Standing on the start line with my clubmates I stupidly shared my belief that, having looked around for the usual suspects, I might be in with a chance of my first parkrun win. Then Robert Gilroy trotted up at 9:28. I started the race with the ironic jibes of “take him down Dave” ringing in my ears.

I came second, a fully two-and-a-half minutes behind Robert, running excellently with a PB of 15:26.

Then, breaking the pot-hunter’s golden rule of never going anywhere near a club-related run, I did my fourth cross country race today (Sunday). It was a beautiful, autumnal day and a pleasure to be spending time with so many familiar faces. I ran well, completing the 6-mile undulating course in 35:23. I finished off with an extra four laps on me Jack, drinking in the great weather and cracking course (post-race-high:O). Great support from Caroline Gibson, Susan Marsh, Evan and Rebecca, who had, a few hours previously, been doing the junior parkrun at Victoria Park with my sons, Zak and Jude.

David Sawyer cross country.

Not looking like I enjoyed it, but I did

David Sawyer

Cameraman Derek Rigmand cracks a joke while crafty Conway steals a march towards the end of today’s cross country.