The Aberlour Strathspey Highland Games 10 Mile Trail Race

The Aberlour Strathspey Highland Games 10 Mile Trail Race (to give it it’s full name) is still very much in it’s infancy, being run today for only the second time.

With my training being very much focussed on the 5K distance for the last few months, it was with some trepidation that I signed up for this ‘big’ one. However, being based in Dufftown for work last week gave me the opportunity to recce the course on my mountain bike.  Not sure if this was a good idea as the big hill scared the hell out of me! It was useful though, as I was able to decide that road shoes should be the footwear of choice.

Arriving nice and early at the Games Arena I was pleasantly surprised to see so many yellow vests, all chatting nervously at the registration area. I counted 12 in today – apologies if I missed anyone.

The half mile walk to the start line, up above the High School, had us all nicely warmed up and the starter hooter got us on our merry way at 12 noon.

The first couple of miles can best be described as ‘brutal’ – a steep, winding single track road heading up sharply towards the dark clouds above. James had set off like a mountain hare and was very quickly becoming a very small yellow dot, disappearing into the distance.. The road soon became a forestry track and then narrowed to a rocky footpath, taking us up through the trees and into the heather. Wiping the sweat from my eyes at top of the climb I was rewarded with a wonderful view across to Dufftown and beyond.

The descent took us through the pine trees and then, suddenly, opened out to a very green grassy area. It was like running across someone’s’ lawn, albeit at a 45 degree downward slope.… Great fun!

Arriving in Dufftown the sun made its’ appearance, we turned left and ran on the road briefly, passing the railway station and then veering off road again onto the Isla Way. Only 6 miles to go! A fast downhill stretch followed – all the way to Craigellachie – where we joined the Speyside Way towards Aberlour. Past the Telford bridge on our right and then tantalisingly close to the beer garden at The Highlander. From there it was just a two mile ‘sprint’ and into the Games Arena for half a lap of the track to the finish, to the adulation of the large, enthusiastic crowd!

As with most Highland Games races, arrival at the arena can be ‘hit or miss’ – get it wrong and you can end up having to weave through the massed pipe bands. All the MRRs finished unscathed with great performances from everyone.

A special mention to James for taking 1st place (and subsequently 1st place in the 880 yards and mile races too). Well done!

The course was well marked and marshalled and we were spoiled by having three water station en route. Thanks to Marie and the team of organisers and volunteers for making this such an enjoyable race. With 9 entrants last year, and 31 this year, the event is sure to go from strength to strength in future years.
And deservedly so.


Report by:  Simon MacDonald

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