As I woke and heard the wind and the rain battering hard against the window, the extra hour in bed meant very little to me. Still, soldier on and get up to get ready for the iconic Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Culloden Run 17.46. The strange distance, in kilometers marks the year of the Battle of Culloden – 16 April 1746. The race gives the option of a fast 10k version, or a tougher but more scenic 17.46 KM. I would run the longer, harder one. Obviously.
After picking up my two passengers Susan and Jeananne, we travelled out to Culloden all a little confused about what time it actually was and which clocks had updated themselves and which had not. After a little panic, I realised that no, we actually do have plenty of time to get there and it did not just take over 2 hours to get to Elgin. Good! We arrived in plenty of time, picked up our numbers and attended the briefing (then promptly forgot to listen to it.) The race would start bang on the expected 10:45.
First mile in and the pace was feeling a little quick for suffering from a sore shin/tight calf problem, but you get carried with the crowd and I had started with Susan and wanted to stick with her for as long as possible. The first mile takes you past the historic battlefield. After this, during the second mile you are treated to amazing views of Inverness, the Kessock bridge and the Moray Firth. The first two miles were nicely under 9 minute miles, and apart from a little twinge in my shin I felt good.
Mile three is a “lovely” gradual uphill, which I made the goal of reaching the top without a walk break. I managed this and ran a slower but satisfying 9:43. The next few miles were uneventful, but felt great and had my times all around the 8:40 mark. Not bad for someone who has been stuck at around the 9:30 – 10 mile mark most of the year.
During the next few miles we would see the 10k front runners pass us, as the route was still the same at this point. At the 8 KM mark, seeing the finish line on our left was pretty destroying mentally as we turned to our right and carried on with our run. At this point the 10k runners would carry on and finish off. I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing for them, as this is where our run got interesting. The scenery was about to become spectacular, including panoramic views of Culloden Viaduct from all angles (including above and below). Unfortunately, the hills were about to become spectacular too.
As we had just turned off from the 10k route, we were treated to a wonderful fast downhill section. At this point, Susan thought it nice to remind me that we need to run back up this. Thanks! Due to a small overlap after the loop, we met the first couple of runners heading back up the hill. Another right turn and time to do the loop that would takes us around, over and under the viaduct. First though was a cracker of a hill past a little farm. I was determined to push up the hill, but unfortunately it beat me half way. After this there would be two more tough hills. Both forced us to walk a little, but each one was a little less. The final hill had us promising each other to run to the next landmark, but on reaching it we would carry on regardless and choose another one. This continued until the top and we found ourselves somehow picking pace up again.
The last stretch was found to have loads of enthusiastic marshals pushing us on. We were both tired, but running around an 8:30 pace. We both sped up and had ourselves a wee race at the last 100M, finishing in identical times. The following was taken from a screenshot on the results website, shortly after I saw Susan at the time keeper’s caravan with handfuls of cash. Not sure what that was about.
The race was finished off with a nice medal and a half decent goodie bag. Definitely one I would do again though.
Chip Time: 01:38:58
Gun Time: 01:39:31
Position: 154 / 275
Gender Position: 113 / 146
|Avg Pace:||9:12 min/mi|
|Avg Moving Pace:||9:05 min/mi|
|Best Pace:||6:34 min/mi|