Salomon Glen Coe Skyline – 17/09/2017

“Soaring ridges, exposed traverses and precipitous drops. Fast and light over rough and technical terrain. A fusion of alpinism and mountain running. Welcome to Skyrunning.”

The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ follows in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races, fusing mountain running and alpinism in a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course.

The route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing. In addition, the race traverses high and remote mountainous terrain, which is at times impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather.

The event is only suitable for highly experienced competitors and all entrants are vetted for experience.

The distance is 55km with 4,700m of ascent

After reading the above introduction for this race, we actually had 2 Moray Road Runners who applied and were successfully accepted for this difficult race, our very own Steven Morrison and Alan Swadel.

Hopefully one of the competitors will give us a report but the results I have seen is that

Alan Swadel had to withdraw at CP 5 after 5 hours

Steven Morrison finished this race in 11:28:09

Well done to both of them.  IF you want any information on this race you can find it by clicking this link

Interim Report by:  Robert Bruce

Glenmore 24 Trail Race

For those unfamiliar with this race, it is a 24 hour (or 12 if you prefer) “how far can you go” race, held in the Glenmore Forest by the side of Loch Morlich. There is a four mile loop which you keep going round and round, until the last hour of the race when the short loop is opened up, which is approximately 350 metres around the perimeter of the Hayfield. This is base camp, where everyone is camped out for the weekend, so it can get a little rowdy at race end!

This was my fourth time running at this event. The first year I did the 12 hour race and had so much fun I keep going back, although I do the 24 hours now for extra fun …

The weekend kicks off on the Friday when most people turn up, pitch their tents/gazebos and then partake in the Friday Night Fancy Dress party. This year’s theme was The Eighties, there were a few sights to be seen. On the Saturday morning a few more people turned up (including Neil Purdie, taking part for the first time).


Relaxing before the start:

12 noon, the hooter goes, and off we all set. This year, the sun decided to shine. There is always weather at Glenmore, so we thought we were going to be lucky this year as there was no rain forecast at all. A breeze was keeping the midgies to a minimum too.

This was my first ultra in a year and a half after my appendix got a bit upset in 2016, so my first couple of laps were quite emotional, being back out doing my thing. Training had been more than a little sporadic, however having been doing long days out walking in the hills, I was able to keep going doing a combination of running and power walking.

Photo courtesy of George Cardno

Just before midnight, with 40 miles in the bag, I decided I’d had enough for a wee while and bribed my support crew to let me have a few hours rest. Not much sleep was had however, as the breeze turned into Hurricane Hayfield! About nine gazebos were trashed and a couple of tents became airborne (one with someone in it!). The SB kept going out to doublepeg the porch area of our tent which was seemingly determined to take off too, and also to right our table which had mine and Neil’s goodies (food, water and fizzy pop) on.

When it started getting light, I had a coffee and some breakfast and headed back out, with Tomás accompanying me for the first lap. All too soon 11am arrived and we were all directed onto the short loops. Eighties music was booming out over the Hayfield, and a few of us put on our Eighties outfits again (hence photos of strange running attire).

When the hooter sounded at 12 noon, I had covered just over 54 miles. Incredibly pleased and happy to be back doing ultras and getting a fairly decent mileage in considering the lack of proper training.

Roll on the next challenge!

Report by:  Jenni Coelho

Fife Athletic Club Festival of Trail Running & Scottish Mid Trail Championships – 02/09/2017

Another good result from Grace Whelan.

Grace won U17s by a minute. She said it was more like a hill race than a trail!

Her sister Alex in the pic was in the u11 fun run


Report by:  Carol Sim


Aberlour Strathspey Highland Games 10 Mile Trail Race – 05/07/2017

Saturday saw the first ever running of the Aberlour Strathspey Highland Games 10 Mile Trail Race, organised by friend & well known local runner Marie Third this race has been etched on my calendar since I first heard about it.  As a parent of two Highland Dancers who attend these games every year what could be better than an event that I could compete in on the day too!

Unfortunately for the organisers but not for me, more of which later, there were only 9 competitors who made the half mile or so walk up from the Games field to the start line, I was joined there by fellow MRR Kimberley Clark who I’d “encouraged” to take on the challenge of this new race.  After a short safety brief we were off & straight in to a  2 & 1/4 mile climb of over 700 feet, we started off on tar roads, which turned to hardcore Forrest road before turning to muddy Forrest track.  Myself & eventual winner Rab Murray made an early break & ran to the top of hill passing the 1st of 3 water stations side by side before experienced hill runner Rab left me in his “splashes” as he seemed to free wheel down the hill compared to my more cautious effort!

After a mile or so of downhill running we reached the 2nd water station & road crossing at Glenfiddich Distillery, after a quick drink & some encouragement from some of Marie’s club mates from Keith & District we made the short run along to & through the old railway station in Dufftown then it was on to the Speyside Way for the run to Craigellachie & then back to the Games field in Aberlour.  By now Rab was disappearing down the Speyside Way in front of me & only in my sight on the very long straights, I’d decided by now that staying in front of the runner behind me was a far more realistic than catching the one in front.

On reaching Craigellachie we passed the 3rd & final water station where not only water but both Blackcurrent & Orange juice were on offer to refresh us before the final push back to Aberlour, the section between Craigellachie & Aberlour was quite busy with walkers & cyclists so encouragement was not in short supply & really helped me keep up my momentum as I tried to make it back in under 70 minutes which now seemed possible.

On arriving back in Aberlour we were greeted by great cheers from the near 6000 crowd who were enjoying the Games in the sunshine on their return to Alice Littler Park after a spell at Speyside High School playing fields over the last few years.  After finishing in a time 1:09:33, a good 2 minutes quicker than I’d hoped, I was informed that as well as finishing 2nd I’d also won the Hugh McPherson Memorial Cup for being the 1st Local Finisher.  This was especially significant to me as the trophy was donated by the family of Hugh who are also my employers, Hugh had been involved with the Games for many many years until he passed away late last year.

Marie intends to make this race an annual event which will be run on the 1st Saturday in August on Games day & I for one will be doing my best to spread the word far & wide, but maybe not locally so that my course record for a local runner stands for more than just 12 months if possible!

Report by:  Martin Bain

Khao Mai Keaw 10k Trail Challenge 22nd January 2017

It’s become a thing that when we go on holiday that I go on a hunt for races near to where we are staying and this year the race I had planned to do was cancelled so I had to begin a new search.  Through the Run Thailand web page I found the first event of the inaugural Thailand Trail Series 2017 Sponsored by Columbia.  There are 4 events in various parts of Thailand over the next 6 months offering 10K, 25K and 50K options with competitors gaining points over the 4 events.  The first event in Khao Mai Keaw Reservation Park was only 20 minutes from where we were staying in Nong Prue and also had a 3k fun run option which my 9 year old Archie was keen to do.

Entry was very straight forward and the race information was thorough.  There was a Runlah web page for race entry very similar to our own entry central.  The events company that was organizing the race AMA events had a Facebook page that was updated regularly pre race with pictures and race information in advance of the event.  They also provided a route map with elevation in advance of the event, something I always like to know!

Race packs were distributed at the race venue the day before the race venue and there was also a sports expo.  The race pack included chipped number Race t-shirt and a razor??

A standard safety briefing preceded the 10K race starting at 7.10am after the 50K and 25Krunners had been set off. With the sun still rising the air was surprisingly cool with a mild breeze (23 Degrees). 600 10k entrants were lined up camelbaks in tow ready for the klaxon.

The first part of the route was undulating and varying in terrain from soft sand to hard dirt with a lot of holes and overgrown vegetation.  I did loom near the back at the start and got boxed in for the first Kilometer and found it difficult to weave the crowd with the craters on the trail and narrowing of the paths.  I was anticipating catching a glimpse of tropical wildlife but the second kilometer took us through a field of free roaming cows and an abundance of manure to add to the obstacle list.

Much to my delight there was a burn, down a little embankment and straight though.

Once I hit the 3k mark I could feel the route was elevating and the terrain was very soft sand.  At 5.5k I could really feel it in my calf’s and slowed to a walk for 200m.

At the 6k marker there was a water station and a fork, 10k to the left 25k & 50K to the right.  Left I went and the soft sand turned to a more solid dirt track that narrowed to a single file track.  This is where we entered the Jungle!  This bit reminded me of the hill at the Gordonstoun XC but having seen the elevation pre race I knew this was the start of a sharp climb up to 8k.  With lots of exposed tree roots and large boulders I fell foul of the protruding obstacles and landed in the vegetation absolutely terrified of landing in a cobras nest, I quickly got up anddusted the dirt off my hands and carried on to do the same another 2 times although avoiding landing on the ground.

Hitting the 8k mark was a delight, all down hill from here… or so I thought.  The same steep narrow dirt paths presented on the decent and hesitant from my trips I did take my time more than normal on a decent.  As the paths widened in the last 700m some new obstacles presented themselves.  BMX hills about 10 of them and back onto the softer sand terrain too.  Onto the grass down a set of steps and onto the concrete to finish the race at the same point where it started.  As I crossed the chip sensor I was handed my finishers medal and exited the funnel to collect an isotonic refreshment and a sponge from the ice bucket.

I was met at the end by Archie promptly flashing his war wound from his 3k fun run that he described as a ninja warrior type course.  He too had taken a tumble on the rough terrain but had not been deterred and got back up to finish the race.  Proudly showing off his medal telling me how he enjoyed his race.

Surprised to find that when the results were issued I was the 19th lady finished in a field of 287.  Would definitely be looking to return next year to better my time.

Report by:  Kimberley Clark

The Illuminator – 29/10/2016

the-illuminator-mrrsThe organiser’s website said it would be tough. Neil Purdie and I knew it would be a challenge as we had both participated last year and were daft enough to come back for more. I can confirm again that this is indeed one tough run. The Illuminator invites you to ‘go wild through the night on Scotland’s toughest half marathon plus. Run 15 dark miles over rugged hill trails with just the glow of your head torch to lead the way‘.

There is a list of compulsory race equipment required. Good quality head torch with spare batteries (or a spare head torch), full arm, leg and body cover, wind and waterproof jacket, hat, gloves, trail shoes with good grip, food, phone, spare warm layer, waterproof rucksack. Random checks are made at registration and on the start line to ensure compliance. Neil had his bag checked twice, he has that kind of face!

As it turned out, shorts and one layer on top were all that was required, the rest of the kit was stashed in our bags as the conditions were more than anyone could have hoped for. No wind, clear skies and almost warm. This was even better than last year. I couldn’t help feeling that many runners were way over dressed, opting to wear all of the gear rather than carry it on their back.

At 18:03 in the half light, 1,129 runners and walkers set off south out of Aboyne, across the River Dee and into the woods and hills of Glen Tanar. The early pace near the front of the race surprised me, the first mile was over in 7:27, Neil has shot off like a scalded cat and was lost in the sea of bodies jostling for space and position. I might have spotted him ahead half way up the first hill, but it was hard to be sure in the now nearly dark conditions. So much for my plan to hang on to Neil for as long as possible.

Four and a half miles and over 1,000 feet vertical are covered before any real respite. Some of it is very steep, underfoot is fine and varies from rough stone to rutted soft Land Rover track. It was hard to find a good clear line with all the other runners passing and re-passing as we took it in turns to spurt and fade in an effort to gain some advantage.

Now completely dark, the ten minutes of downhill took some nerve and 100% concentration. Lots of boulders, loose stones, vegetation, dips, and road wide drainage channels. Every single step had to be placed with care. There was little time to spot your line due to the proximity of others. One wrong move, especially with the frequent metal lined 5 inch wide and 5 inch deep drainage channels, would spell disaster.

A wee burn crossing, a fairly easy 5 minute climb, then down hill for a couple of miles to the light zone on relatively good rutted track. There was no escaping the drainage channels though – total concentration still required.

The light zone is an area just beyond half way where the trees are lit up multi-coloured and you can get food, water and hot or cold juice. Neil flew through here, didn’t notice the trees much and declined the refreshments. I stopped briefly for some water, was offered a banana but initially refused. The nice gentleman then revised his offer to a ready peeled banana. How could I refuse? I spent the next two miles manfully trying to eat the bloody thing. It was massive and I didn’t want it or need it.

Beyond the light zone the trail improves considerably, no more drainage channels and the quality is more akin to the forest roads in Roseisle or Culbin. It is four miles gently descending with the odd short rise to keep the effort up. This was a good place to get the head down and pick off runners in between banana chomping sessions.

The final climb up Craigendinnie is fast becoming legendary and the subject of almost all post race chat. At one mile long and 500 ft vertical, it is ridiculously steep in places and very hard on used legs. Mile 13 took me 14:38. Neil stormed up it in 13.27. It was at the top of this hill last year that my legs gave up and took revenge with severe cramps. I was delighted to get to the same point cramp free and four minutes ahead of last year’s time.

Just two miles down to the finish, job done, I was on schedule for my target time of 2:15, or so I thought. The high part of the down hill is grassy, muddy and wet. Mentally and physically fatigued, I switched off for a moment, stumbled, then cramped up in both calf muscles trying and failing to stay upright. I could have picked a much worse place to fall. The mud was deep, soft and plentiful. Two knights in muddy trail shoes, kindly extracted me from my mud bath, got me onto my feet and checked I was OK. No damage done apart from pride and skinned knees.

With the wind out my sails, the last mile and half to the finish was more of a recovery job, similar to, but not nearly as bad as the end of last year’s race. I was losing all the places I had gained after the light zone. Neil was waiting patiently on the line, surely wondering yet again what was keeping me.

Neil ran a very strong race finishing in 2:08:39, 52nd place and 20th Vet. I finished in 2:18:21, 99th place and 37th Vet. We had both knocked several minutes off of our times from last year, declared ourselves satisfied, and shuffled inside to claim our finishers mugs full of hot tea/coffee and some aptly named yum yums. Delicious.

The Illuminator is a very well organised and marshalled race. It would be hard to get lost, and easy to get hurt. Some of the money raised goes to the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team who were out in force on the run route. Thank you to medical team for cleaning up my knees. They looked far worse than they were. Halloween knees for sure. Removing the dressings from hairy legs was far worse than any fall.

The winner clocked 1:40 for the 15 miles. I can’t comprehend that time given the terrain and the dark. I had no plans to run this race next year, but that target of 2:15 is in my head, bouncing around. Surely the weather will take revenge next year though.

Report by:  Nigel Williams

Monumental Challenge – 23/10/2016

73fdda47f4bef67f50a2d14a1e4d570fTen Moray Road Runners, from a field of 43, represented the club on Sunday 23 Oct 16 at the Fochabers Monumental Challenge. This was a good turn out considering it clashed with the Lossiethon Half Marathon. 

6407774fe60e5b3f8cf9a3316f5c6399The race was the third and final leg of the Fochabers Triple Challenge organised by Spey Runners. Gordon Castle Highland Games 10k in May and the Jean Carr Challenge in July are the others in the series. 

Five trail miles, four and a half of which are either uphill or downhill, makes a great run for those of us who enjoy a change from tarmac and a stomp through the mud. Weather on the day was great for trail running, cool with light rain. 

Any thoughts of chilly air and rain soon vanished as the hard work begins immediately, no namby pamby flat or gently rolling roads here. Simply a half mile uphill start that gets steeper as the effort starts to bite. The climb gradually eases then turns into three minutes of downhill followed by a relatively flat and fast half mile before the climb.

97d09f5fe3dab0014a5534e53ac2fcd4At approximately one and a half miles and 500 feet vertical gain, the climb sets a fair test of your fitness. The path in places adds to the difficulty, with roots a plenty, loose stone and wee gullies carved by water to keep you on your toes. The Monument is a welcome sight at the top of the hill. If you don’t know what the Monument is, take a walk or a run up there. It’s well worth the trouble.

From the top, it is a two mile fast run down mostly good quality forest road. The downhill is broken near the bottom with a detour round by the viewpoint overlooking Fochabers. Runners then rejoin the forest road for a steep and stony minute or two to the finish back at the Winding Walks car park.

Prizes were awarded back at Christies Garden Centre just half a mile away. Race participants were treated to a free hot drink and snack courtesy of Christies.

Many thanks to Spey Runners for hosting a well organised and friendly race. The Triple Challenge is a great series of races to participate in. I would highly recommend them to all road runners.

Michelle Slater turned in the MRR performance of the day, winning the ladies race by over 5 minutes. Steve Reeve was the first road runner over the line with Martin Flynn hard on his heels. Full results and pictures are available on the Spey Runners website.

Place Name

6 Steve Reeve 2nd MSV

7 Martin Flynn 3rd MSV

11 Martin Bain

14 Nigel Williams

15 Michelle Slater 1st FS

16 Euan Cantlie

18 Bill Murray

29 Mike Whelan

31 Kim Clark

35 Eileen Riddoch

Report by:  Nigel Williams

Glencoe Marathon

Glencoe is a pretty iconic place – steep by nature and steeped In history. I spent quite a lot of weekends here during my time with RAF Mountain Rescue. So, when someone suggested that they were now running a marathon, it seemed like a good challenge. The fact that its billed as the toughest in the UK didn’t start alarm bells ringing until after I’d paid for entry…..DOH!!!

Luckily, Paul Innes decided that he thought it was a “Good idea” as well so off we went down from Elgin. We travelled down to Fort William the night before in order to get registration squared away, then on to the important stuff off carb loading. Strangely, common sense head made an appearance, and only 2 pints of “liquid carbs” were consumed before bed. 1200 people were expected in Fort William for the marathon, half marathon and the 10k so the town was busy.

cold-glen-coe-startNext morning, we had to be in Glen Nevis (At the visitor centre) for 0730 – we had to scrape the ice off the car! Buses from here then got everyone round to the start line at the red squirrel campsite in Glencoe. It was -3c when we arrived in the Glen, but not a single cloud in the sky. Stunning didn’t quite cover it.

We started in group D which set off about 0920ish – the run up the Glen was relatively straight forward, on mostly good path. Had to cross the road a couple of times, but marshals in place to assist with traffic. The higher up the Glen you went, the sheer numbers taken part became apparent. An 800 strong line of people snaking its way up the Glen. Near the top of Glencoe, we left the road and traversed across to meet the West Highland Way towards the Devils Staircase. This traverse line (About mile 8) devils-staircase-looking-northwas desperate, boggy ground, with little or no path. By the time we reached the proper West Highland Way path, everyone’s legs were sapped.devils-staircase-looking-south

The views from the top of the Devils staircase were incredible – clear blue skies – views of Buachaille Etive Mor to the south and Ben Nevis to the north. The run from here to Kinlochleven was mostly downhill on good paths, so managed to make good time on this stretch. A large crowd greeted us at the half way point in Kinlochleven – the support during the race was excellent. Conscious effort was made here to take on plenty fuel for what was coming.

The next 2 miles out of Kinlochleven can only be described as emotional. Steep and warm, but on good path. Once it levelled out, the legs recovered a wee bit. The path from this point traversed along an old military road down the back of the Mamores mountains, heading west/northwest – we were now heading back towards Glen Nevis. It was pretty warm, and I was getting cramp in my quads. I tried to stretch it out but every other muscle in my leg then cramped up! Arrgrhhh – A bag of crisps at the next feed station helped out.

At the 20 mile point was the last water stop/feed station. This included a full cheese board and port!! From this point we started to climb up again (bugger) into the forestry, which was quite a dark episode! Soon we reached some open forestry tracks and the marshals told us “3 miles to go – ALL DOWNHILL” – ya dancer! Shame my legs were fixed in finish-line-2in 2nd gear by this point.finish-line

Down down down into Glen Nevis – soon we could hear the music and loudspeakers from the finish line – the finish was somewhat boggy, nearly lost my shoes as I crossed/fell across the line in 5:25. 26.2 epic miles including 1600 meters of ascent.

Will I go back and do it next year – absolutely. Great race, pretty epic in places, and in a  brilliant location.

Report by:  Alan Swadel

Fort William Marathon – 31/07/2016

My First Marathon

It all started after doing the Inverness half marathon in March this year. I thought I should run a marathon.

Looking around and being terrified of the training involved I felt 4 months should be fine. I picked Fort William for no other reason than it would be warm training than in the winter. Confident I would be fine I approached Neil who did it the year before. Initially I was going to start building up the miles but as I realised it was mostly off road and I was really struggling going past 13 miles in training l said I would not do it.
However, as July approached I began for some reason to push past the half marathon mark. With 2 weeks to go I had 20 miles in the bag en route Moray Monster trails with bruises to show for it.

I Packed myself off to Fort William and in the morning said hello to Paul and Neil. Sprayed on insect repellent and we were soon off.

Having never done a marathon it was a bit weird starting quite so slow. The first 3 miles were uphill trail running. The next 3 were still trail but flatter. At 10k I clocked 54 minutes, then we went onto a mixture of road and trail to 10 miles. Then single trail route to half marathon distance. I must honestly say I did not know what to expect as this was new territory. Sure enough by 15 miles I was really flagging. Then an isotonic drink, jelly babies and a toilet break got me fired up to 20 miles.

Thinking only 6 miles to go but then 1 mile in more hill climbs which steadily got worse with each mile. By mile 22 we were completely at an equivalent of the hill at dores X country that seemed endless. My pace really dropped and then at mile 25 my garmin had also had enough and died. I somehow managed on and I have never been so happy to see the 26 mile sign!!

However the organisers still put on a steep stony hill after this. Finally after that short hill you turned right and the timing mat awaited.

I had hoped I got in at 4.30 judging from my last time looking at my watch but I must have really slowed up as I am credited with 4.45.
Good experience and I am glad I can now say I have run a marathon and of course I will run one again!?

Report by: Toks Osunrinade

Running a Marathon whilst guiding a visually impaired Runner

I ran the Fort William marathon last year. That was only my second marathon and finally decided to do it again and entered it way back in March. Literally the next day, a post by Melanie Ross on the MRR facebook page changed my race plans a bit

“Hello Moray Road Runners, I hope you don’t mind me asking this. I am a member of the 100th marathon club and one of my colleagues  who has ran over 250 marathons is looking for someone to guide him round Fort William marathon. He is partially sighted  and relies on people to guide home round. I have done this several times but will not be at Fort William.  I knew a few of you as used to go to Moray College. So thought someone may be interested.  Paul Watts is an amazing guy and would appreciate if someone could help him. He normally runs a marathon in 4.30-5.30 hours depending on the terrain/undulations. If you can either contact me or Paul directly.  Thank you”

Being as we sponsor a couple of guide dogs and I’m listed as a volunteer guide (but never been called upon), it seemed like a logical thing to volunteer. If Paul was ok with a newbie guide? I did have concerns about the several narrow sections and some rough bits, but a few emails allayed my fears from bricking it to mild trepidation.

Race registration was between 07:45 and 09:15, with the race starting at 09:30. I’d arranged to meet Paul at the guest house in Fort William at 07:45 so had an early alarm set. Although the alarm wasn’t needed as I’d been awake since 4am, so maybe I was still bricking it after all. I met up with Paul and helped him get checked out of the guest house, bags loaded into my car and away for the start of the days adventure.

After getting registered we were sorting ourselves out ready for the race, when Toks came over to say hello. Toks had entered a while back, but had then talked himself out of it… that is until recently managing a 20 mile training run. So, here he is ready for his first marathon. Unfortunately that was the last I’d see of him, but safe to say he made it round and he loved the smooth flat course!!!

Being as Paul had never run with me and I’d never guided at all, we headed out for a trial run before the stampede of the start. We ran the first part of the route out from the ski centre and the first part of the hill, as I knew this would have several different surfaces and get us onto the logging road that makes up the first five or so miles. With me steering Paul round a few big puddles and obvious big stones, using the dogbone link that we were holding and talking through any obstacles or changes in road* surface. It went well without any issues, so with 1.2km practice in the bag we headed over to the start of a marathon.

We worked our way through the gaggle of runners towards the back with a couple of minutes to spare. I said hello to a couple of lads carrying backpacks and dressed in DPM fatigues. At which point one of them recognised Paul from somewhere and they bounced marathons off each other until settling on the one. Whilst the marathon tennis was going on, the other lad asked me “so is he (Paul) completely….” as the words trailed off, he pointed to his head. To which I replied “yeah,  complete bonkers” before realising he was actually meaning blind. By now I’d known Paul 1hr 45min and already found out he isn’t completely blind but can see very little detail or depth, but he can see differences between colours. He also has a very sharp mind for facts and figures as well as a brilliant memory and a bonkers love for running marathons.

We’re off and start to shuffle forwards until getting some space. I keep a close eye on the timing mats, to check they are still laying flat as we don’t want a trip before even starting. Upping the pace to a slow trot into the car-park where there’s a few height differences between tarmac and gravel sections. The people around us are great, giving us a bit of space as we slow to let Paul step up or down then get going again. On the trial run we had to squeeze past a locked gate, but I spot its now open and steer us through the middle of it and out onto the wee hill of the logging road. Paul into his stride now, picking his feet up to avoid snagging any small stones that stick up. We’re weaving past a few people who are walking but I’m mostly guiding Paul onto the smoother centre of the road and avoiding any large rocks by pulling or pushing on the link and Paul instinctively moves left or right.

At the first water stop we slow down, grab a bottle from the fantastic marshals and walk a little whilst having a drink. Heading further out into the forest, the logging road becomes less used and gradually becomes a Landrover track with an increasingly overgrown central bit. Eventually the tiny gorse and brooms start to grow into trip sized bushes so I take the central section. Ploughing through the lengthening grass and small shrubs with high steps is why I’d worn my trail shoes and gaiters to hopefully keep some rubbish out. Soon it was time for the bit I’d been dreading, the single track path. Last year this was quite overgrown but someone had recently been down with a strimmer and cut back some of the bracken. We still ended up walking, with me in front, dodging the puddles and roots as best as we could. It wasn’t too long until a few runners caught us up again but nobody seemed in a hurry to pass and it wasn’t long before Paul was chatting to a Canadian lady behind us. A a big muddy puddle spanned the whole track and a few people hopped up the bank, through the heather and escaped as we tried to keep out of the deepest bit. The puddle kind of marked the end of the path and it wasn’t too far before we were dropping down towards the first road section.

On the road, it didn’t take us long to catch the runners who passed us on the single track section and it was soon time to leave the road and cause another slow train on the second narrow bit. It doesn’t last long and a careful downhill had us back on the road and quickly into Spean Bridge. We waited a few seconds for a gap in the traffic and crossed the road. On the pavement, we swapped over so Paul was on my left nearest the wall. That meant steering him round the lampposts and brambles but seemed safer than him slipping off the kerb into the road. Although that gave me a surprise close call with a sticky out camper van wing mirror! The pavement section is fairly short and then we’re off rollercoastering along the woodland path towards the Highbridge and the gradual climb up to the Commando memorial where we stopped for some water and a gel… its difficult opening things whilst running as you only have one hand free, so it would only be a couple of minutes Vs ending up a sticky mess.

It’s now a mainly single track road with passing places down towards the canal. We ran on the right hand side, with Paul nearest the verge (and a ditch to fall in if we get it wrong) and me running quite wide so cars couldn’t bomb past, until we were ready to either stop or wave them through if it was wide enough. Although we held up a few cars, I think everyone must have spotted that we were linked together and the smiles and waves probably meant they were shocked or amazed and happy to wait a few seconds. If I let Paul know about the waves, he quickly waved back too.

The halfway point is next to the small graveyard at Gairlochy, then its onto the canal path for a long stretch right along to the locks at Neptunes Staircase. Last year I ended up hating this bit! Its not difficult, really is quite beautiful and tranquil, but it seemed so monotonous after the varied terrain before it.  Today however we were trotting along chatting and the Kms kept passing with a quiet beep and the 10K didn’t seem half as bad this time. As we left the canal, Paul was number crunching to work out finish times and we were wondering how close we would be to Paul’s friend Harold who we has been playing cat n mouse with, passing and re passing several times since the Highbridge path.  He was on a run/walk strategy and slowly pulled away as we approached the main road crossing at the A82/A830 roundabout.

Paul took my arm and we easily made it over the first half of the road, getting stuck on the central island by lots of traffic. A car stopped a way back and we started to cross, I was keeping an eye out for cars that may have taken the left lane until we were carefully stepping up onto the pavement.  The lady in the car gave us an enthusiastic wave which we returned and we were back on our way for the home stretch. The cycle path was easy going except for dodging lots of road junction marker posts. We were still catching a few runners but we were slowing down ourselves and with the trail steadily climbing from here it was looking more like a +5hrs 30mins finish.

The next forest road was well compacted and mostly runnable, but we walked some of the steeper climbs. A few more roads and paths later and we were onto the home stretch below the high wire adventure area and then the final sting in the marathon tail… big rocks on a 20 meter climb to rejoin the track that has the start/finish arch. We spent a couple of seconds getting used to the footing and ran down the road. I know there was a big crowd at the finish but I was really concentrating on keeping Paul upright. I was letting Paul know about the timing mats, so he could pick his feet up a bit more, then it was all done and we were having huge medals hung round our necks and received goodie bags. We’d made it safely round and just within 5hrs 30. I gave him a wee hug before guiding him over to a chair so we could remove the timing chips.

Sharing so much time with someone, who places their trust in you to keep them safe, them in turn pushing themselves to do things that we often take for granted made for a very special day 🙂

Report by:  Neil Purdie

Dufftown 5 Mile/5 Hill Run – 20/07/2014

The overnight and morning thunderstorms had cleared to leave a very warm and humid evening for this, the second race in The Speyside Series.

Back in May, the Archiestown 5k was the first race in the series. The Speyside Windfarm 12 Miler is the third and final race on 28 August. The series began in 2013 and has been won by our very own Kenny Wilson in 2013 and Darrin Cameron last year. The series winner has the lowest aggregate time for all three runs.

I’ve completed the series in 2013 and 2014, but last year only managed the Dufftown race. I missed the Archiestown 5k this year. Hopefully I’ll get all three in next year.

Having pre-registered for the series, I was able to collect my race number in the Royal British Legion faster than your average Road Runner can complete a lap of the Morriston track. Other Road Runners up for the race were Ed Dunbar, Louise Cartmell and Neil McWilliam. On the start line, we were outnumbered by Forres Harriers, Cairngorm Runners and Metro Aberdeen.

Ed was making his debut in this particular race and looked genuinely disappointed to learn we weren’t going up the Conval! Neil and I were getting our excuses in early. I was claimed to have trashed my legs at a spin class the day before, Neil was claiming the same from a long ride with Elgin Cycling Club not 24 hours earlier. Meanwhile, Louise had noted the presence of Forres Harriers starlet, Anna MacFadyen.

13716057_306305126384463_7443741989539784431_nThe pre-race safety briefing was given by Alex Benvie of Dufftown Jog Scotland. He threatened an extra lap for any clean runners at the finish, but there was no chance for that. Jim Nicol, Dufftown Speirin’s mannie, promised us all fame in the autumn edition. Louise and Paul Jamieson are now world famous, having made it into the summer edition while taking part in the inaugural Dufftown 10k. At 19:01, a quick honk on Jim’s horn and off we charged, splashing and dodging towards the ford through the burn.

Normally we would run through Hillside Burn, just a step or two. The recent downpours had made the burn a bit deeper and murkier the normal, so we were directed over the wee bridge to the right. The puddles on the hillside road were bigger than usual, the ground squelchier than usual, but this off road bit was surprisingly good all things considered.

After a largely uphill mile, we crossed Maltkiln Burn and turned downhill on a firm and fast track towards Glenfiddich Distillery. A marshalled road crossing allowed us to safely cross the road and turn left to run flat and fast for a few hundred meters on the hard stuff. Ed was well out of sight by now and Louise was a good 20 seconds ahead, fighting it out with Kirstie Rogan of Forres Harriers. I have to admit, that at this point, I was disappointed not to be keeping pace with Louise.

Off-road we went again as we detoured through the Dufftown Railway Station (Keith – Dufftown Railway) and onto the Dufftown spur of the Speyside Way for 1k. We were turned right off the trail and down through the ever expanding Balvenie Distillery warehouses towards the Fiddich. As I crossed the single file swing brig over the river, I couldn’t help thinking how much Karen Norvell would enjoy that. A final steep muddy 200m section signalled the end of the off-road running and the location of a water station.

Sharp right and homeward bound on the Maggieknockater to Dufftown Road. The road rises steadily here, for a while, as we track along the hillside parallel to the Fiddich. While holding my breath for a few seconds, trying hard to avoid another lungful of rotten road-kill badger, I noticed that Louise was winning her battle. Shortly after, Dave More of Metro, surged past me. As the road levelled then dropped, I stretched my legs a little to regain my place.

That wee bit extra effort gave me a slight stitch that I tried to control as we passed the former Parkmore Distillery, went under the railway line and back over the Fiddich on the road bridge. Once over the river, we turned right for a fairly challenging 400m uphill section sandwiched between Balvenie Castle and the railway line. I noticed my stitch had been forgotten about (until now obviously) so that was good news. Bad news – Dave More was back on my shoulder as we ran along Castle Road past Glenfiddich Distillery. Louise was about 200m ahead and I could see her pumping her arms furiously as she made the left turn up the final climb towards town.13782052_306304399717869_8600674636521282756_n

As we took the left turn, Dave More gave it some juice up the hill and I had no response. It is a 600m run up to the finish at Hill Street, and all I could do was concentrate on not taking a 10 second walk break to ease my discomfort. I just had enough to lift my knees for a sprint (slightly faster) finish as people were watching.

13770437_306305459717763_5070003650846862718_nMy target in every race is simply to beat last years time. I was 40 seconds slower, never mind, at least next years bar has been lowered. Ed finished 4th overall after coming out top in a sprint 13770277_306304293051213_6121425946428361918_n(genuine sprint) finish with Alan Reid of Peterhead AC. Louise finished 13th overall and second lady. Well done to both of them. Neil finished in 22nd while I was 15th. There was a field of 55 in the race. Robbie Paterson and Anna MacFadyen, both of Forres Harriers won the male and female titles. Results can be found on the club website. There are lots of pictures from the race on the ‘Still Running’ Dufftown JogScotland Facebook page.

The race was very well organised and marshalled. There may well have been more organisers, marshals and helpers than actual runners. These small local races are fantastic events for us runners and it would be great to see more Road Runners attend. It’s what we train for.

I didn’t stick around for the traditional cake and sandwich fest. I’ve heard all about them and I’m certain that this one didn’t disappoint. A big thank you to the Dufftown Jog Scotland group. Long may it continue.

Next up for me – Jean Carr Hill Run at Fochabers this weekend. Part of the Fochabers Triple Challenge and another great local race that deserves our support. You know you want to.

Report by:  Nigel Williams