Strathearn Marathon

Race Day report
Having entered this race last year I decided that I would keep my place after it was postponed due to Covid-19.
I always knew this would be a tough course, having grown up in the area it’s definitely not what you would call flat!
But I’ve wanted to run it for a while so ….

It was touch & go over the last couple of months whether Strathearn Harriers would be able to put the race on due to the ever changing restrictions of Covid-19, but they kept everyone up to date and made it clear from the get go that the race start & set up would be very different from the norm.

The race starts and finishes at the Cultybraggan Camp just outside Comrie in rural Perthshire and is a big loop all on road.  In usual times they are able to offer overnight camping and a mass start (usually around 250/300 runners) but this year it was very much a fluid situation.

Race numbers were sent out in advance and all runners were asked to submit an estimated finish time.  This allowed waves to be set up and a staggered start over 15 minute intervals from 9am until the fastest runners were set off at 10.15am.

All runners were asked to report to registration 15mins before their start time to confirm their details and for the race briefing.  Generally we were asked to stick to our race bubbles and not congregate, but it’s a big camp with plenty of space, so it was easy to stick to the guidelines.  You then made your way to the start and after a loop of the camp you were off.

It was quite strange only starting with 20 or so runners and it did then make for quite a lonely race in stretches, but when you had the chance to catch those who’d started in front or be caught by the speedy runners there was great support .. as you would expect.

The aid stations, marshalling & support over the course was tremendous and couldn’t be faulted, even though they were only able to offer water at the stations and nothing else (most runners self supported with their own supplies)

As you come along the last mile or so towards the camp you can hear the finish line support and every runner was named in by the tannoy, which is always nice.  We had been told that there would be no ‘buffet table’ as in previous years but every runner got a goody bag with a pastry & savoury sandwich supplied by a local bakery, as well as plenty of water, bananas and of course your medal!

Due to the waves and final spread of the field there was no crowds or issues with mingling at the end, but plenty of space for folk to take their time and sort themselves out before heading off.

From my own point of view, I was probably a bit underprepared for a road marathon and certainly struggled in the heat .. there’s some brutal hills in the first half of the race but there are some excellent flat sections & downhills to go with them. The scenery is stunning and it’s a great location for a running staycation!  I won’t give you my time or finish (you can look it up if you really want) cos it is a bit of a shocker .. but, as my sister said ‘it’s only a race if you finish’ and I definitely did that!

Report by:  Karen Norvell
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