Carole Spy's new goals in 2018

Forget long lies, coffee mornings and tending to the garden, for one Bellahouston Harrier, retirement is about taking on new challenges, getting faster and giving something back.

Since ending her career as an IT account director in 2016, Carole Spy has become a rater of golf courses, a publicist for August's European Championships and, with her running shoes on, a setter of new PBs.

According to Carole, there is no secret to the success.

“You come to training more and you get better. Surprise, surprise!” she said.

In addition to excelling at 5k, 10k and 10 mile distances in 2017, Carole’s major running highlight last year was breaking the two hour barrier for the half marathon. It was a target Carole had been chasing for a while after narrowly missing out on her own version of the ‘sub-two’ at races in Glasgow, Alloa, Campbeltown and Paris in previous years. The breakthrough came in Madrid in a weekend away with friends and fellow club members.

Carole said: “The year before we went to Paris, and that was a really great event. Then last year we decided to go away to do the half marathon in Madrid. It was fantastic finally breaking the two hour mark [1:56:06]. I’m hoping to do even better in Milan this spring.”

Although she is now a regular face at training nights, it was not always the case. Carole used to spend a lot of her week working away from home, but it did not stop her running.

“The last role I was in I worked in London two or three days a week,” she said. “Prior to that, I worked in Warwick most of the time. I would regularly go on business trips to the likes of Norway, Finland and Poland at that time too. I kept up my running when I was working away as much as possible. I would run in Hyde Park when I was in London and when I was in Warwick I joined Leamington Spa Striders. It was nice to see the sights in different places.”

Carole has fond memories of her days running with the Striders, particularly their “long summer runs into the countryside”.

At this time of year, such a thought will appeal to wind-swept, wet and cold runners. However, as Carole knows, golfers also relish getting out of the city after a day in the office to enjoy the warm summer sun on the back of their necks.

Carole is a prominent member of East Renfrewshire Golf Club and is the handicap secretary in the women’s section. She also competes in two leagues that the club participates in and her handicap is a respectable 19. However, not satisfied with just playing the game and organising competitions for others, Carole has also become a course rater.

Course rating involves taking a range of measurements around a golf course and processing the data to determine the ‘standard scratch’ of the course – this score reflects the difficulty of the course and is often, but not always, the same as the ‘par’ of the course.

“I work in a team of normally two or three of us who take the measurements and observe the various different hazards and obstacles, like the height of rough, tilt of the land, the width of the landing zones on the fairway, and the size and shape of the greens, such as their contours and whether they have different tiers to them for instance,” Carole said.

All the information is collated and processed in accordance with modeling developed by the US Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA). In 2017, working with the Renfrewshire county team, Carole was involved in course rating at four courses - Cathkin Braes, Eastwood, Whitecraigs and Williamwood.

“You look at the course in a different way when you are rating it compared to when you are playing it, particularly in relation to the hazards that are in play,” Carole said.

Carole’s other current passion is raising awareness and interest among the public about a major sporting event coming to Glasgow.

Between 2 and 12 August, the public will be able to watch top athletes compete for medals in the European Championships in a range of sports, from aquatics, rowing, cycling, golf, gymnastics and triathlon. It is the first time that the European Championships of several sports will be held at the same time. Glasgow is joint host of the championships with Berlin, where the athletics will take place.

Carole works as a promotional volunteer for the event, and can often be seen escorting Games mascot Bonny the Seal down Buchanan Street, or at various events, giving away ticketing guides or merchandise.

“I was a volunteer previously at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014,” Carole said. “When I decided to put myself forward to help with the European Championships I applied to become a volunteer during the time of the Games. However, after my interview, the organisers got in touch and asked if I would become one the promotional volunteers. I agreed as I have all the time in the world!”

“There are 30 of us in total and we can take on as much of the work as we want to or are able to commit to. The organisers issue a list of promotional opportunities and it is up to us to put ourselves forward. One of the jobs I was on recently was at the Scottish Open & National Diving Championships in Edinburgh,” she said.

Despite a busy 2018 ahead, Carole still expects to find time to continue her passion for parkrun – she is steadily approaching the 250 mark for runs completed at the weekly event. As with others, parkrun played a role in Carole’s decision to join the Bellahouston Harriers.

Carole said: “I joined the club in the summer of 2012 after I had been running for years with the Glasgow Women's Network. The Network was really good for me with my work situation because there were lots of different meeting points throughout the city on different nights of the week, and there was always a familiar face. However, there came a time where I wanted to do a bit more and push myself a bit.”

“I entered the Brian Goodwin 10k [Bellahouston Harriers’ flagship event] to have a look and see what the club was about and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to join,” she said. “I had always been put off by the idea of a proper running club and worried that the standard would be too much of a leap from what I was used to. However, having talked to people I met through parkrun it was clear that Bellahouston Harriers was an inclusive club, and it still remains that way today.”

Interested in Joining?

Bellahouston Harriers are an amateur running club based on the south side of Glasgow.

Our friendly atmosphere and great coaching make us a great choice if you are looking to start running for a club or if you have run with a club before.

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