A TEN-KILOMETRE slog is the sort of pre-season run every football player dreads, but, on Sunday morning, Hibs star Alan Maybury will be doing so out of choice, pounding his way round Arthur’s Seat and through the streets of the Capital hoping to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
While his Easter Road team-mates will be putting their feet up looking forward to a break following Saturday’s match with Dundee, the 34-year-old will be one of more than 8000 taking part in the BUPA Great Edinburgh Run in aid of Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre, based at the Western General Hospital.
A professional football player he may be, but today Maybury insisted the elite runners – last year’s run was won by Kenyan Martin Mathatha in a time of just 28 minutes and three seconds – need have no worry about having him in their midst, his target simply being to complete the challenger in a “respectable” time.
Maybury, whose five-year-old daughter Grace will be running the 1.5k course for the same charity, said: “Maggie’s have helped our family a lot recently and we greatly appreciate everything they have done, so this is my way of saying thanks and hopefully raising some money for a really worthwhile cause.
“When I saw there was a 10k run in Edinburgh, I naively said ‘I’ll do that’ and put my name down. I’m going on the theory I am fit enough, although I haven’t done any special training for it. I’ve done a few such runs in my time but the days in football of you being run until you are sick and then declared fit are long gone.
“Science plays a big part in it now. Players look after themselves better than before. There’s heart monitors and the like, individual programmes and it’s not about how far you run but how hard and possibly the furthest we run now is about 1500 metres.”
Nevertheless, Maybury had to seek the permission of Hibs boss Pat Fenlon to take part, the run happily coinciding with a two-week break in the domestic football programme as Scotland face their second World Cup qualifying double-header against Wales and Belgium.
He said: “It was a bit tricky, I was barely in the door and I was having to ask the manager if it was okay to do a 10k run for charity. He was very supportive as has everyone within the club but I do realise that had we been facing a game next midweek I understand and appreciate the answer would most probably have been totally different.
“It’s just luck more than anything that it takes place on Sunday after our game and we then we don’t play again for another couple of weeks.”
Although he hopes to be just another face in the crowd, Maybury is well aware he’ll probably be recognised by some of his fellow runners – but he insisted anyone looking to make a race of it with him will be disappointed. He said: “I’m panicking a bit because I’m in the orange group, the one after the elite runners.
“I know the time last year’s winner ran but I’ll be a bit behind him. All I am doing is looking to get round the course in a respectable time. I know somewhere along the way that competitive edge might come in to it but I’ll try to be sensible and aim for somewhere between 45 and 50 minutes, although even then I’m maybe being overly optimistic.
“I’ll try to run a steady pace and now way will I be trying to catch those lads doing it in 28 minutes or so. I can’t run at that speed so I’ll just enjoy the run and raising money for such a good cause.
“I’m sure there might be a bit of stick if some people recognise me and there may be some might look to take me on but if they want to go racing that’s up to them, I’m not going to get carried away.
“A few of my team-mates did ask if I wanted them to run with me but it’s something I had in my head that I wanted to do. Perhaps when I’ve finished playing I’ll do a marathon, it’s just challenging yourself and if I can raise money along the way, then brilliant.”
Although he has no specific total in mind, Maybury hopes both Hibs and Hearts fans will support his run, saying: “It’s not something that discriminates, a lot of people in the city will have been affected by cancer. It’s a great cause and anything anyone can afford to donate will be much appreciated.”
Maybury will, however, hope to head for the starting line on Sunday with a spring in his step with three points secured against Dundee less than 24 hours earlier, admitting all of Fenlon’s players have been left bitterly disappointed by defeat to Aberdeen and having passed up two chances to go top of the table in successive weekends.
The former Republic of Ireland full back said: “I know Rangers are not in the League at the moment but every other year if one [of the Old Firm] has not started well, the other most definitely has and in all my years in the SPL I don’t think I have never sat top.
“It’s not the end of the world by any means, but it was disappointing to have missed out considering the boost it would have given us. Even so, we are probably ahead of where a lot of people expected us to be, a new side with a large turnover in players during the summer. But the manager is trying to push us one, demanding more from us and while we have settled quickly it would have been really nice to have taken those opportunities to sit top of the pile.”
The visit of basement outfit Dundee will, to many Hibs fans, represent an immediate chance to return to winning ways for Fenlon’s side on a day which, had it not been for the demise of Rangers, they’d have been entertaining the Ibrox club rather than the Tayside outfit which was catapulted into the top flight as Ally McCoist’s men were dumped into the Third Division.
But Maybury cautioned against an over-confidence, saying: “It’s been difficult for Dundee. I know one or two of their players and from speaking to them they feel they were left in limbo for a lot of the summer and it was probably a big disappointment for everyone that the whole thing took three, four or five months to sort out.
“As a result Dundee didn’t know what league they would be in until just a few days before it all kicked off again, which made things very difficult for them. They’ve had a tough start but they will find their feet. A lot of their players know the league having played in it before and once the uncertainty which has plagued them is dusted off they will settle down and get results.
“It will be a difficult game for us but we are looking to bounce back and get a good result to give us confidence going into the break.”
• Anyone wishing to support Alan Maybury’s run on Sunday can do so via http://justgiv ing/alan-maybury or by texting MAGG 81 followed by the amount they wish to donate to 70070.