Congratulations to Mike Newton who travelled up to Deeside for the Balmoral 10km and achieved an event-PB. Mike was joined by his brother, sister and some friends. A larger than normal field braved the wet start and that hill at 3.5 km but strong support along with pipers cheered all the runners home. You can read Mike’s below. An excellent event – recommended.
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My sister and I made our annual trip north on Friday night for an overnight stay in Kintore before travelling to Royal Deeside for the Balmoral Tartan 10K on Saturday afternoon. I was participating for my sixth consecutive year and, reflecting the general increase in the size of the field this year, our largest ever ‘squad’ made the trip to the Balmoral Estate. The regulars, my brother and sister Craig and Bev, Annetta, Iain and I were joined for the trip by ‘Balmoral Virgins’, Sam and Malky. Malky, a Gala Harrier, had travelled from Galashiels for the race!
The event marked the start of a busy week for Craig, Iain and Sam as they head for Milngavie and the West Highland Way on Monday. A group of eight are raising funds for Friends of ANCHOR, a charity which supports the Aberdeen and North Centre for Haematology, Oncology and Radiotherapy (ANCHOR). In fact Iain’s busy week started even earlier as he had completed a one mile swim on Friday as part of a ‘triple header’ fund raiser!
After the leisurely 20 minute walk from our field, sorry, car park, we relaxed outside the Castle’s cafe before making our way to the start/finish area. After the usual Porta Potty stops, bag drops and warm ups, we assembled on the course, where, for the first time, the 2000+ field filled the gap from the start line back to the finish arch, almost 200m further back down the estate road. This larger field resulted in slower than normal progress over the start line on the narrow road, making it difficult to get going, but this is the only downside to an otherwise excellent and very attractive course.
Cooler than previous years, the day had started wet, with light rain or drizzle for most of the morning but the sun had appeared for spells and the tarmac section of the course was mostly dry. Once off the tarmac, after about 2.5km, the forest track was wet, but the smooth, undulating surface was only occasionally broken up by puddles or muddy sections. At 3.5km the course turns a corner onto a looser, muddier surface and a sign warns the uninitiated of the imminent start of the course’s infamous hill. Climbing 80m in the next km, this is a slog for those, like me, with no aptitude for hills, and this was not going to be the year I would conquer my nemesis. Pain in my lower back when I woke up on Friday morning was still present despite taking Ibuprofen regularly and it didn’t take kindly to the climb and I gave in and walked after only a few minutes of the climb. The only water station on the course is a welcome site after reaching the top of the climb and a duo of pipers drive you on towards the halfway point and the start of the descent. Summoning up what reserves of energy I had left, while searching for the firmest ground, I attempted to descend as quickly as possible without losing my footing, before returning to the flatter tarmac surface for the final 2.5km. Greater numbers lining the course than on any previous visit meant that the level of support on the later stages of the course was tremendous, which kept everyone, including me, going all the way to the finish.
A great day, with several members of the ‘squad’ running course PBs, my own 55:48 knocking 1:59 off last year’s previous best, and our Gala Harrier finished in 42:56, securing a top 100 place! 🙂
No stickies after the race, but curry and a beer was the perfect alternative, following the drive back to Kintore!