IT was a rash bet made 30 years ago – but council leader Andrew Burns is about to pull on his running shoes to keep the promise he made as a student and complete a marathon at the age of 50.
If he does it, his dad, Denis, 85, will have to pay up on the pint and the fiver which they shook on back in 1984.
Councillor Burns said he had been a keen marathon runner when he was a student, but had not done one since.
“Now, rather insanely, I’m planning on doing the May 2014 Edinburgh Marathon,” he said.
He is going to start his training next weekend to coincide with this year’s event.
He said: “I did five marathons back in 1983/84. I was at university in Northern Ireland and some friends persuaded me to do the Belfast Marathon. Then when I went home for the summer break I did the Glasgow Marathon. When I was back in Ireland I did the Dublin Marathon, then it struck me if I did one in England and one in Wales I would have done one in each of the five countries of the British Isles within a year.”
He couldn’t get into the London Marathon, but settled for the Eastbourne Seven Sisters Marathon and also did the Barmouth Marathon in Wales.
“On the back of all these, I was having a debate with my dad, who would have been 55 at that time, and I was slagging him off for not being fit enough,” he said.
“He said ‘Well, you won’t be running marathons when you’re in your fifties’. I said of course I would. We shook on it and he bet me a fiver and a pint.
“I’ll be 50 in December and I’ve agreed I’m going to do the Edinburgh Marathon next May.”
Despite the long gap since his last marathon, he is confident he can do it.
“I’m starting from no base,” he said. “But I’m not unhealthy – I cycle in to work every day, so that’s four miles a day, 1000 miles a years – but I don’t run.”
He will be raising money for Venture Scotland, which runs outdoor-based personal development programmes for young people aged 16-30 who face complex and difficult problems.
“I was recently at the 25th anniversary event in the Assembly Rooms for Venture Scotland, which started as an offshoot of Operation Raleigh. I was on Operation Raleigh in 1986 and then in 1988 I was briefly involved in setting up Venture Scotland.
“This is the perfect opportunity to raise some money for what is a very good cause.”
He plans to keep a Blipfoto diary to chart his progress in training and has already set up a JustGiving page.
His parents, who live in Salsburgh, near Shotts, are backing him. His dad has already left a message on the JustGiving page: “Here’s that promised ‘fiver’ ready-and-waiting for you, but ONLY upon completion of the marathon next year!”
Cllr Burns said: “I’m absolutely up for the challenge. I’m not aiming for any particular time, I just want to complete it. My main goal is to enjoy it and raise as much as I can for Venture Scotland.”