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Race Report by Gail Murdoch

Rattray Blair half marathon has been on my radar for a few years but being held in June, it usually clashed with holidays or a busy race calendar. This year I had the opportunity to run it.

I had had a rotten run at the recent Loch Leven half marathon and was keen to reignite my running mojo on a race that I knew was well known to be hilly, would be a challenge and would put no pressure on me to run for a time. I went in with the mindset of run it, don’t try to race it and simply enjoy it.

Before the race, all I could hear was how hard it was, how hilly it was, it was the hardest half in the country, worse than Path of Condie etc etc. Folk said they’d never do it again – yet they were back again this year….

I was delighted to see Jane, Donald and Angie at the start. As well as many other local running pals. The race is divided into a start for walkers setting off at 9am, then the runners followed at 10m. By this time the sun had burnt through and it was a glorious day.

The route is a circuit finishing 400m from the start. Almost all on quiet country roads except a 1/2mile section at 12 miles on slightly rocky trail. From the start the route climbs up, and up, and up…….for about 3 miles, then sharp descent, then up, and up, and up…. , then sharp descent , then up and, up and up….. you get the picture? And so it continues. Even the descents were hard as they were so steep, it was difficult to let yourself go. I was so glad my plan had been to simply get round it. After seeing the route, my next goal was to get round and not walk any of the hills. Which I did – hurrah! Also, as the course was very scenic, my mantra was” look up”. It really was a beautiful course. I passed the 1st walkers at about 6 miles and continued to pass them till the finish. There were lots of encouraging shouts to each other.

The route is generally downhill the last couple of miles. I got to the section of trail and folk bombed passed me, as they always do on trails. When we hit the road 400m from the end, I went into race mode and started overtaking people back. So I finished on a high.

I had gone in with a mind set not to race but to enjoy a challenging run. And that’s exactly what I did. And I loved it. Possibly my slowest half marathon but the most enjoyable for a long time. The organisation of the race was spot on. Well done to Peter Ritchie and his team. It was well marshalled and sign posted. The weather was sunny and hot but simply made the scenery even more impressive. The post race buffet was amazing – special mention for the strawberry tarts! The prizes awarded were extensive 1-3rd in all racing categories. Both Jane and I managed to get 1st in our age groups, which was the icing on the cake for a grand day out. Definitely worth considering for a GP counter in future.

But avoid if you don’t like hills……..