I would like to take this opportunity at the start of this post to say that the whole weekend has been tainted by the sad news of Friday night/Saturday morning about the helicopter crash off Shetland. RIP to the four people who died. My thoughts are with their whole families and all of their friends and colleagues. I hope that all survivors make as swift a recovery as possible and get over the trauma of this tragedy as best as possible. This is the weekend of the BRG – Broch (Fraserburgh), Rizzarty (Rosehearty), Gamrie (Gardenstown) 17.5 mile coastal challenge. The idea of the challenge is to choose to either walk, run or cycle the very hilly coastal trail to Gamrie. Cyclists start off at 1pm and walkers at 10am, with us runners taking up the middle section and leaving town at 12 midday. This now the seventh running of the event and it looks to be gaining strength every year. After
enduring enjoying last year’s run, Rachel and I thought it would be a good idea to not only enter again, but drag some poor unsuspecting victims participants with us. As I am from Fraserburgh, I used this event as a good excuse for a weekend back home and seeing friends/family. I therefore headed up on the Friday night and picked up everyone’s numbers and T-Shirts (which are re-designed from last year and so snazzy). I got up in Saturday morning and stuck a cool-bag full of frozen blocks in the car and proceeded to drive around town looking for Icy Lemon Fanta. This stuff turned out to be more of a Fanta-C (get it… fantasy… get it? Oh, doesn’t matter…) as no where in town stocked it. You see, I had originally asked everyone what there favourite post-run drink would be. Rachel chose Root Beer (which she supplied), Susan chose the simple to find Diet Irn Bru while Naomi made up drinks which don’t exist and therefore ended up with a can of fizzy orange. So, drinks on board and a couple of towels and I drove out to Gamrie while being followed by my friend Stuart in his shiny new Audi. Dropped the car and headed back to Fraserburgh to meet the girls.
After a bit of flapping about the house and realising that I would not have enough time to get ready and make it down to the beach, plus having T-Shirts and numbers to carry down to the beach without getting spoiled, I text Rachel asking her to get Naomi to ignore all one-way streets and other rules of the road and somehow find me based on a GPS location that I text. Well done – they were here within 10 minutes. I jumped in the car and we headed down to Fraserburgh beach to get ready.
At twelve midday sharp, we were off. We had all decided not to rush off and keep a steady pace, treating this as a training run. Round past Broadsea and up past the waston (rocky beach that runs along Fraserburgh’s north cost) and out of the town towards Sandhaven. All the way we stuck quite close together as a group and I ran with Naomi and Sheri for a bit giving them all the stories about Fraserburgh, the gut factory, the fish factories and my childhood that Rachel had heard last year. Into Sandhaven for the first of around seven well-stocked feed stations (including bananas, oranges, drinks and sweets) where we would group together again. Through Sandhaven AND Pitullie and off we went to Rosehearty and the end of the flat running (much to Susan’s delight, when I kept reminding her). After Rosehearty we turned on to the New Aberdour coast road, where we were greeted by a fun marshal who seemed to want to join in with us and had great delight in telling us “not long now, just over the hill then another ten miles.” Hmm – thanks! The coast road was great (apart from being attacked by two (YES – TWO) killer (yes – killer) daddy lang legs) (honestly… they came right for me.) I had to stop here for a gel and other comforts, so watched Rachel and Susan head off ahead. I ran with Naomi from here on in with Rachel and Susan always in site until the very last few miles. Once over the coast road and turning past New Aberdour, I was “delighted” to see how fresh the awaiting relay runners looked. So delighted that I high fived one and shouted “GO GO GO.” Instead of taking over and leaving me there to eat and drink loads of goodies for the feeding station, she gave me a puzzled look, laughed and said “nah” while she continued to wait for her actual team-mate. Fat lot of help she was! Normally, during an undulating route the hills are mixed with flat bits of road. Not here. If you were not climbing, you were going down up to 20% declines which were not much easier than the uphills. However, some hills were worse than others but scare people equally.
The weather had been reasonable with us. A bit wetter than would have been desirable, but it kept us cool. I came in to the finish at 3 hours 7 minutes. A little slower than last year, but then I was forgetting that all of my runs are a little slower than last year. I am quite pleased though to have managed to run a steady run. I went along to the harbour shed where they had loads of cakes, tea and pancakes but unfortunately the queue was too long and we were getting cold, so we opted to head back to the car for those lovely drinks that were waiting for us. I must say though that the event was very well organised and some bigger, more expensive races could learn a thing or two from them. They know how to pull local resources and get help from the businesses who are in a position to do this and who want to put something back into the community. Businesses will not go out of their way to find ways to spend money. They need to be approached and asked and it appears that the BRG organisers understand this and do it very well. Lidl did a fantastic job of keeping us fed and hydrated, the Running Shop in Aberdeen helped with the number bibs, online entry and discount for all competitors and Maitlands with the resources to get a van out there to transport people’s bikes back were a few examples. The race route has been well thought out to be both challenging and scenic. The people on route were very friendly; including fellow competitors, the lovely volunteers and the very patient drivers. The T-Shirts are great and the medals are fantastic (although I would love to see a new design next year… and a custom BRG medal would be fantastic if that was at all possible).