GUT wrenching, mind melting, stomach churning. And that was just what it felt like to watch. Lord knows what was going through Callum Hawkins’ mind when one final stretch of the Gold Coast Highway merely became one Paisley man’s own personal highway to hell.

Forget about the other 43 medals which preceded them, but sadly the plight of Hawkins on that stretch of Sundale Bridge will be the enduring image of these games, the moment his dream of bringing Team Scotland home with their tenth gold medal wilted in the sun just 2km from home. It was his misfortune to join a list of illustrious runners to misjudge the most masochistic event in sport which includes Paula Radcliffe, Emil Zatopek and the original, Pheidippides of Athens, who ran the 26.2miles from Marathon to Athens before dropping dead shortly afterwards.

Perhaps Icarus, who flew too close to the sun was a better classical reference point. Because when runners from Lesotho, Tanzania, and Rwanda were deciding mid-race that this one was all too much for them you can tell that temperatures were off the scale. The warmest day for three weeks, at 10.23am when disaster struck, the mercury was hitting 30 degrees in the shade. Not that there was any.

Hawkins could hardly have prepared better. After five weeks of acclimatisation in Queensland, yesterday’s strategy incorporated a cunning hat-trick where a freshly-iced baseball cap was available along with a new water bottle or energy drink at each of the aid stations. While the fact he went 5km without a hat and didn’t take on water at the penultimate station suggested something had gone awry, the final watering hole was just 200 yards away when Scotland’s Iceman melted.

Spectators at the start/finish point had been hoping all day for Gold Coast native Michael Shelley to provide Australian victory but there were only gasps and groans of concern when the big screen showed Hawkins, apparently coasting home with what looked to be an unassailable lead in excess of two minutes, starting to veer all over the road.

The scenes became more distressing, the watching crowd including Steph Twell, Eilidh Doyle, her husband Brian, and 400m pal Zoey Clark, turning away in horror as the Scot stumbled to the kerb and went down. Dazed and confused, he hauled himself back onto his feet to bravely travel a little bit further. But as any marathon runner will tell you, by then the cause is hopeless.

He had hit the wall – both metaphorically and now literally. Disorientated and veering helplessly to the right like some punch-drunk prizefighter or weekend drunk, he was down again, smashing headlong into the railings by the side of the road.

While an eternity then seemed to pass before medical treatment arrived – a Channel 7 TV technician was rather quicker to capture the moment on a smartphone - even then Hawkins’ spirit remained unwilling or unable to throw in the tunnel.

The big question was which one of these it was. Perhaps he knew, under IAAF rules, that to receive treatment was an instant disqualification. Or perhaps, by this stage, he was too delirious to communicate.

As stoic as his resistance was, ultimately it was to no avail. Because Callum’s race was run. Lying helpless on the ground, he gazed up at Shelley as he ran past, the Queenslander tellingly resisting the temptation to return the gaze.

Robbie Simpson’s first thought, when he was third to pass this scene, was to stop there and then and help his stricken friend. But assistance had finally arrived and after a moment’s hesitation he resolved that the best way to make him proud would be maintaining the bronze medal position. Ten or so minutes later he had Scotland’s first marathon medal at the Commonwealth Games since John Alder in 1970

“I think three, three-and-a-half k from the end, someone had said: ‘Oh, the leader’s down,’ said Simpson. “I thought: “Well, I hope it’s not Callum, I hope he’s just behind the leader. But then I saw him, 2k from the end, on the bridge, just lying there. I just thought: “Oh no …” He had someone with him, so at least he was getting some attention. But he didn’t look in a good way.

“My first instinct was to stop and help him,” he added. “And I would have done. But I’d just gone into third place, a medal position. And there was someone with him, as well. I didn’t know if I could really be much use, anyway. If it had been another ten or 20 minutes, I could have gone too.

“When I saw him down there, I wanted to make him proud at least and just go for it for his sake. At least Scotland could take home a medal then.

“I’m not sure I’d be able to get back up if I went down but it just shows how strong he is mentally. Sometimes he’s just so willing to give it everything and it’s just a shame it didn’t quite happen. It was so close to the end. Another seven minutes and he’d have been over the line.

“He’s so mentally strong, it’s in your mentality to get back up again,” he added. “The problem is in the marathon once you’re down like that on a day like this it’s very hard to undo that. By the time you get to that point and fall over it’s probably already too far.”