One of my favourite events on the calendar and the third year in a row I have ran it. It’s 4 or 5 weeks before the Loch Ness Marathon, so makes for a great training run towards that, but is also a brilliant event in its own right and growing from year to year. BRG stands for Broch (Fraserburgh), Rosehearty, Gamrie (Gardenstown) and runs the 17 miles between those towns along the coast road. The race consists of several options; walking, cycling, running or splitting the run into a relay race. The walkers start 2 hours before the runners and the cyclists start an hour later, meaning that everyone gets to the finish line in the same sort of time-scale.
With a midday event start, I had plenty of time to have a leisurely morning as I had spent the night before with family in Fraserburgh, so at around 10:30 I popped down to the 2 mile mark to watch the walkers pass by before heading home to change. Afterwards, I arrived at the beach with plenty time to spare, but the atmosphere was great. Although it was a bit cold from the wind (which appeared to be blowing against us and would be for the whole run), it was great to see the sun out for a change. Previous years have been wet, foggy and grey.
As we somehow ended up on the front line for the briefing and as battling backwards was going to be more trouble than it was worth, I set off with Craig at quite a quick pace to avoid holding anyone up. The race started prompt at midday and headed out of the beach, past the harbour and lighthouse museum and round through Broadsea (small fishing village which is now part of Fraserburgh) before heading out of the town towards Sandhaven.
Mile 1: 855
Mile 2: 8:41
Given the first two miles were far too quick and that we still had 15 to go, I asked Craig if we could slow back a bit. The next few miles were at a much nicer pace, including a brief stop for refreshments at Sandhaven and Rosehearty. The feeding stations at this event are always among the best. Lidl supplies all of the refreshments and you get an array of goodies; jelly babies, water, sweets, orange segments, bananas and of course some friendly Broch banter.
Mile 3: 9:07
Mile 4: 10:15
Mile 5: 9:08
After mile 5 as you leave Rosehearty, the hills start – and never end before the finish line. You are either climbing or speeding down hills. This is also the point where the route gets most scenic and you get fantastic views over the coast of the cliffs and caves towards New Aberdour bay. After leaving Rosehearty, you climb a steady uphill before turning right onto the undulating New Aberdour coast road. A mile along this road was the 3rd water station. As they had 500ml bottles at this point I decided it would be a good idea to take one and run with it, filling up at the various water stations. There is a generous amount of water stations on route, but despite the strong wind what was still in my face it felt very warm.
Mile 6: 10:24
Mile 7: 9:22
Mile 8: 10:50
As we turned off of the coast road at 9.5 miles, I saw the first of the cyclists and the lead car. This was about a mile further on than I met any cyclists last year, so either I was a lot quicker or the wind was affecting them a lot more than me. Maybe even a little of both. This was a great boost, as for the first time I was really feeling the legs tired. I also realised though that this year I had not so far had to walk up any hills, whereas I had last year. Still running with Craig, I listened to his motivation and continued up the hill before turning right and on to the New Aberdour – Gamrie road.
Mile 9: 9:15
As the hills got a bit meaner at this point I started to work a lot harder, keeping with Craig as much as possible. It was getting a bit tough but I wasn’t in a bad way and knew I could run a steady run for the a while yet. Rather than slow Craig down I sent him off ahead when we hit a particularly tough climb and carried on myself.
Mile 10: 10:04
Mile 11: 11:42
Mile 12 was probably the toughest mile of the day for me and I started to beat myself up a little due to the fact that I was not even at half Marathon distance yet and slowing to a walk. Reminding myself that I have a Marathon in just 5 weeks and that I should not be struggling yet. I took on water and some Dextrose tabs though and pushed on. Of course, I was not realising that I was a lot further on and a lot stronger than I was at the same time last year. Not only were the climbs tough now though, but the descents were also tough and at a 20% gradient took a lot out of the legs.
Mile 12: 12:35
Mile 13: 10:07
After the steep downhill stretch it was now time for the toughest climb of the route. A massive 17% gradient that seems to go on forever more, which is not done justice in the photos below taken in previous years. I had fancied running up the whole way, but half way up realised that was a stupid idea and walked alongside the cyclists who had jumped off of their bikes.
Mile 14: 12:54
Shortly after this hill I started catching walkers. I had only caught the last few walkers by the time I finished last year, so to be passing large groups of them with miles to go told me I was doing well. The last few miles would be spent with short walks and bursts of running, passing and being passed by the same person a few times and passing loads of walkers. The friendly greetings from the walkers were appreciated as I aimed to just run on to the finish with anything I had left. I recognised a few of the walkers from this morning when I sat watching them at 10:30 and found this the most peculiar feeling to have been able to catch them later in the day.
Mile 15: 11:19
Mile 16: 11:22
The last mile is a very steep descent down to Gamrie harbour. I tried to get into a nice rhythm and run a quick last mile. A bit sore on the feet, but nice long strides saw me hit my quickest mile of the day.
Mile 17: 8:45
Final 0.18 of a mile ran at 7:42 pace
Again, a fantastic event that I look forward to running again and again. In fact, I may even cycle it some year to see how it is. It is great value for money, the organisers adapt at a moments notice to the needs of everyone (as shown this year by adding a bus at the last minute and re-opening the entries to allow more people to take part). The refreshments are great, a brilliant technical T-Shirt with a fantastic new design this year and a new medal design. There are hundreds of very high quality photographs taken by Broch Photo House and placed on Facebook for everyone to see for free. The runners album can be seen here, but there are a lot more albums from the BRG, other running events and also general photography from the area which is all very good too.
I was delighted to finish the race with a 2 minute course best and also an 11 minute improvement on last year.
Gun Time: 2:56:07