On 6 December 2018, parkrun in Scotland celebrates it’s 10th birthday.  Since that first in Pollok Park, Glasgow, back in 2008 where 44 people ran, a recent glut of new events means there are now 39 events.

And we can truly say it’s across the length and breadth, from Crichton near Dumfries right up to our island events in Kirkwall in Orkney and Bressay in Shetland.  Quite the spread!

In recognition of this mighty milestone, a challenge was set: take part – run or volunteer – in ten different Scottish events before 6 December!  The rules a little more relaxed for the remote runs in the Highlands & Islands.  For the rest, how you go about it is entirely up to you.

So far, I’m on a mini-streak of 4 in 5, with that break for Tiree:
1. Alness
2. Drumchapel
3. Edinburgh (my home run)
4. Aviemore

It’s a great excuse to visit other parts of the country I might not otherwise see, though as far as possible I’ll try linking them in with other things.  My excuse for Aviemore was my taking part in the Etape Caledonia the following day in Pitlochry; what was one more night away?  And just a bit further up the road, at that.

The run is an out-and-back along a section of the Speyside Way, partly in the woods and partly in the open with some pretty special views of the mountains in the distance.

I accidentally sampled a fair chunk of the course before the run.  A note for you out there: read the course notes properly before you leave!

I took a slightly scenic route that Google Maps was in part responsible for that would take me to the start line, and did.  Only I got there early enough for there to be no one out there so jogged straight past it, and on…and on.  Eventually I stopped, turned back and asked someone who turned out to be a volunteer; this lead to a quicker-than-I’d-have-liked run back to where people were now gathered!

Well, I was definitely warmed up.

I plonked myself in the middle of the pack and fairly quickly regretted it – the start’s a little uphill on a narrow wooded path, so not much overtaking space!  Still, I picked my way through over the 700m or so of ups and downs that made up this first stage.  Nothing too severe, but it is relentless.  And you know it’s coming again at the end.

The largest part of the course was in the open, and we had a beautiful sunny day to enjoy it.  Less enjoyable was the steady uphill all the way to the turn (marshalled excellently by a volunteer pumping out the tunes).

I think I was 11th at this point – I counted, I’ve just forgotten over time – but my pre-run panic had sapped a bit of my energy and I was already looking forward to the finish.  Disaster!

On the ‘downhill’ I could clearly see the mountains still with a bit of snow on them in the distance, a pleasant distraction from this running nonsense.  Aside from passing one person who’d even kindly moved to the side to allow me to (the path is fairly narrow and people were running out as we were running in) it was a lonely trip back to the woods, and trying to keep up the pace without others driving you on can be hard!

I managed a final ‘thank you’ to the chilled marshal sunning herself on her deckchair (it really was an awesome spot for it) just before we headed back into the woods and slogged it out, slowly, towards the finish.  Ooft.

Days like this show up my lack of training/cross-training recently.  Fingers crossed that’s slowly changing, but this felt tough.

Official time: 21:07
Official place: 9th

Crazy to think that’s over 2 minutes 30 from my time in Perth earlier this year.  It’s a more difficult course, but not to that extent.  Ah well, you can’t be on form every week.

Final thoughts?

I’ve not done the course or its surrounds justice here at all.  If you find yourself in the area, particularly for skiing as so many do, it’s well worth your time.  Road shoes will be fine at all times of the year, it’s a well compacted path and even in rubbish weather I’d imagine light trail shoes would be of little benefit.

I was a little tight for time, but I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the surrounding area.

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From my misguided route to the start. MOUNTAINS in the distance, I promise.
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Post-run recovery sit, casting an eye over the finish area
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The path leading to the start line
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The tunnel leads back to the cafe/meet point
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Aviemore has a brewery, and their beers are tasty! Also, if you see this, the you need to turn left and keep walking to find the meeting point.