This was the first distance race that I ran and what prompted me to join Bella last year. The event consists of a Marathon or Half Marathon for runners in the morning with a cycle Marathon and Half Marathon in the afternoon. The organisation is excellent and the circuitous route around the River Tay is pretty spectacular.
We (my wife Angela and myself) travelled up on the Friday evening and registered at the Moness Resort where there was a pasta spread laid-on for participants. With child-care sorted and a wee cottage hired for the weekend my biggest challenge that evening was trying to ignore the wine in the fridge particularly with the sun making a rare appearance! Having missed 6-7 weeks of training over the summer due to my dodgy calf I decided to wait for a post-run tipple.
The Marathon kicked off at 09:30hrs from the village of Weem just over the Tay from Aberfeldy and is a two-lap course. The HM mustered about 09:45hrs at the showfield camping / car parking area (both free) just over the Tay Bridge (aka Wade’s Bridge). From there its a 500m walk to the start line led by two pipers. The start itself is at the Aileen Chraggan Hotel just shy of Weem. The weather was good, a nice bright morning and about 12c, although there was a fairly stiff breeze blowing down from Glen Lyon.
The gun started us 300 HM runners off at 10:00hrs and its a fairly steady 4 miles past Weem, Camserny and Dull to the iron bridge over the River Lyon. We were into the breeze at that stretch however it was fairly kind. From there its a left turn over the bridge and on the road to Kenmore. This is roughly a 2.5 mile undulating stretch with a water stop/toilet and past some pasture where the horses were clearly having a laugh at the two-legged humans trying to run!
Entering the village of Kenmore is quite a site with Loch Tay straight ahead and a cross over the Taymouth Bridge. Its probably designed to take your mind off the impending climb through the grounds of Taymouth Castle and Golf Course. Thats where the only real hill springs up, just after the castle but thankfully through the woods which provided some shelter from the head-wind that had blown-up by that stage. Its a fairly long winding climb, probably similar to the hill in the Alloa Half. Having survived, I was glad to see a water station at the exit of the castle grounds and having briefly stopped to hydrate (I’ve lerned that I cant run and drink at the same time having nearly drowned last year) I started the gradual stage on the A827 back to Aberfeldy only to feel a large stone lodged in the sole of my left trainer. Having just stopped for a drink I didnt want to spoil my momentum again so like an audition for Riverdance, I tried to ‘remotely’ dislodge the thing. This was much to the amusment of a nearby Marshall who could tell I was no Michael Flatley (more like Stavros Flatley). Defeated, I stopped and picked out the stone and was on my way again.
This part of the course undulates along the south bank of the River Tay back into Aberfeldy and although there is a bit more traffic, again its well-marshalled and the views of the river are great. Started to pass some of the Marathon runners at this point and offered encouragement with huge respect to their efforts. Counted through the miles back to Aberfeldy and the first turn back towards Wade’s Bridge and the finish. Great encouragement from folks along the route seen me to the finish line at the Showfield beside the Tay and managed back in 01:40:03, 5min 40sec quicker than last year but a good wee bit off my PB. However really enjoyed the run and scenery and got round injury-free so happy days.
Collected my medal, mug and certificate before enjoying a cup of tea and loads of home baking. Cheered Angela home which was great as she had run very little since her first Marathon in May this year. Also on offer was a massage, swim and night-time Ceilidh at the Moness Resort. Went down to Kenmore later on and watched some of the cycling then pizza and beer in Aberfeldy! This is a crackin HM if you are looking for something scenic and although its about
90 miles north of Glasgow, its a good excuse for a weekend break. 🙂
by Tom Ferris