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

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