Foxtrail Nocturnal Ultra Marathon – 02/12/2017

Technical terrain. Undulating course. Icy rain. Pitch dark. Scotland in December. Mind numbing loops.  How hard could it be?

I decided to enter the Nocturnal Ultra as training for a race I’m planning next year and because it was conveniently located for me to be able to tie it in with a visit to family.  The race consists of running for 6 hours round a 5k off-road loop in, as the name suggests, in the pitch dark.  The loop consisted of a real mix of terrains – mud, tree roots, sand, loose stones and a tiny section of road.  There were 2 hills which, unsurprisingly, seemed to get longer and steeper with each loop.

In the middle of the loop was a “party barn” which runners ran through.  This had a resident DJ and was a very welcome distraction.  The best visit was when the DJ was playing Madness.  Found myself singing along way after I could hear the music, apologies to anyone who heard.

At the end of the loop was a heated marquee where supporters and relay runners could wait.  Was proud I managed not to spend any time in here.  Was great to see my support of Gareth and my girls though, and they coped very well with my extreme emotions including many tears.

Don’t think I have ever done a race so far removed from my comfort zone.  Hadn’t set myself a mileage target, but with the difficult terrain and darkness was proud to have achieved 10 laps.

Report by:  Elspeth Jenkins

Monumental Challenge – 29/10/2917

A good turnout of MRRs for this enjoyable race.  There were a total of 33 runners and of those runners 11 were MRR, so we took up a third of the field.

There were good results for MRR in this race with 5 Top 10 finishes.

Grace Whelan was 1st Lady

Lawrence Ramsay was 1st Male

Martin Bain was 1st Male Vet

Karen Norvell was 1st Female Vet

This is a very enjoyable but tough race with a decent amount of climbing up to the Monument.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a nice challenging run.

Results         Pictures     

Report by:  Robert Bruce

Bhuachaille Hill Race & The Dramathon – 21/10/2017

Bhuachaille Hill Race

Moray Road Runners had another successful weekend with athletes taking part in a couple of races of the more muddy and hilly kind.

A great start for Kirstie Rogan in her first race in Moray Road Runner colours.

She was 1st place lady at the Bhuachaille Hill Race.

Her husband Robbie was 4th male.

Congratulations to both of them and welcome to #teamyella


The Dramathon

The Dramathon is a marathon distance race along the Speyside Way from Glenfarclas distillery to Glenfiddich distillery. The route takes in several distilleries along the route each offering a whisky experience to ignite your senses. By getting stamped at each participating distillery you can pick up the corresponding miniatures at the end of the race.

You have the choice of a full marathon (Glenfarclas to Glenfiddich), a half-marathon (Tamdhu to Glenfiddich), a 10K (Aberlour to Glenfiddich) or a relay race (team of 4 divides up the marathon).

The route uses mainly forest tracks with some occasional short sections on minor roads and some hilly terrain.

MRR had several runners in each race, but the run of the day has to go to Louise Cartmell, who won the Half Marathon, a full 2 minutes in front of the 2nd placed athlete.

Well done Louise on an awesome run, and well done to all MRRs who took part and also who volunteered to Marshall at the inaugural event, which is looking like it will become a regular feature.

You can view the results here

There are also some pictures on our website, you can view them by clicking here 

Report by:  Robert Bruce

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