Three intrepid Harriers set off for the long drive to Royal Deeside for this picturesque race around the estate of Balmoral Castle. A 1pm start time meant an early rise was not necessary and Ngeme did the honours and picked me and Robin up at 9am.
This was the second time I have done this race, the first being in 2015. I have entered each year since but have unfortunately always been injured or ill when race weekend arrived. Pleased to make it to the start line this time, hoping to take a couple of minutes off my previous time of 2:01:20 and dip under two hours.
The first mile or so of the race is fairly flat along a road leading away from the castle then as the road peters out and turns to tractor track and then forest trail it gently climbs. After about three and a half miles we are sent down a track which loops around through the woods, steadily climbs back up then heads us back the way we came along the forest tracks. So far, so straightforward.
At 8 miles comes the first of the more challenging climbs, up a slightly steeper incline through nice woods which eventually open up onto a more exposed hilltop and barren terrain. The track circumnavigates the peak of Ripe Hill, but still climbs until about 10 miles in where a downhill section is welcome. However the respite is temporary as the tracks heads upwards once again.
From 11 and a half miles in the track levels out then begins a long descent back towards the Dee valley and the finish line. But there is a sting in the tail shortly after reentering the woods, we are sent up a steep, muddy trail which after half a mile evens out. Then it’s a really nice finish through the woods, down the other side of the hill, back to the road and a sprint for home.
Despite having one eye on the Fling the next weekend I ran pretty hard and didn’t walk any of the uphill sections. At about two miles to go I counted seven people within a couple of hundred meters in front. I set my sights to catch as many of them as I could. I managed to reel all but one in before the end, overtaking a few on the final descent. Just shows it pays to practice fast descents.
The scenery is really nice, most of the course is easily runnable and was pretty solid underfoot, despite some rain that day. The weather was perfect for a good run, cool with sunshine and showers and light winds.
Medal, t-shirt and bottle of water for all finishers. By the time we all finished and got changed we had missed the burger vans that smelled so good before the race, so had to stop for a chippy in Braemar on the way home.
I would thoroughly recommend the race, and the Hungry Highlander chippy. A great Harriers day out.
|Pos.||Bibno.||Finish time||Chip time||Participant||Category||Club/Company||Speed||Pace|
|53||244||1:54:11||1:54:02||Allan Dunbar||(M) V40||Penicuik Harriers||7.88 mph||7:36 min/mile|
|190||278||2:10:29||2:09:43||Robin Hall||(M) V40||Penicuik Harriers||6.90 mph||8:41 min/mile|
|394||363||2:39:47||2:38:49||Ngeme Ntuli||(M) V50||Penicuik Harriers||5.63 mph||10:39 min/mile|