A RUNNER says a popular local road race was needlessly marred when hundreds of athletes had to run right past "appalling" anti-royal graffiti in Port Glasgow.

Mark Sherman was shocked by a "hateful" message about the Queen which he and other athletes were confronted with while participating in last Sunday's Port Glasgow 10k race.

The 58-year-old encountered the graffiti - with an offensive slogan daubed in green paint - while running through an underpass near Kelburn Business park.

Sherman said that he was shocked the mess had not been removed before the race took place.

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Shetman said: "It's sad to see this, whoever is responsible for the road will no doubt come along and clear things up, but hundreds of people have already seen it.

"The route was known in advance and that's a big piece of appalling graffiti to have been left there.

"It is a shame, as the town is on the up - it was in the doldrums for decades after heavy industry left and now they're looking at making the place nicer to visit.

"The blame of course lies with whoever graffitied the wall, but the authorities should have intervened to ensure the area was clear before this race took place.

"I did the Glasgow Men's 10k a few weeks ago - there was no litter, no rubbish and there certainly wasn't a big piece of sectarian graffiti.

"Hundreds of runners - a good chunk of them not from this area - had to run past that, they'll draw their own conclusions about the area.

"This brings shame to an area that's trying to present the best image of itself."

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Sherman added that the race itself had been a great event despite the graffiti.

An Inverclyde Council spokesperson said they had made contact with the trunk road operators about the graffiti.

Chris Curley, who organised the Port 10k, said: “It’s very unfortunate that this message has appeared recently.

“It’s not something we’d picked up on prior to the race.

“If we had been aware of it, we would have taken steps to contact Transport Scotland, who operate the trunk road, and have it removed.

“We can only apologise that this has affected what was an otherwise good experience.”