STUNNING LOCH KATRINE

Is there anything runner’s would rather do than run a stunning course in glorious weather? For all of us lucky enough to enjoy the Loch Katrine Running Festival this was exactly what was served up.

Loch Katrine landscape

Loch Katrine landscape

Runners could choose between a scenic and undulating 10km, a half marathon, or the full marathon on a day that the sun shone, and the towering peaks of the trossachs glistened like a collection of wedding cakes all around the loch. All events are run on the road, which climbs and descends around the loch, offering magnificent vistas and some chunky hills.

I love turning up at races and seeing some familiar faces.  Running back in Scotland, there were loads of friends running, as well as stalwart marshalls and race organisers like Julie Clarke, and Audrey McIntosh.  Audrey has been to the ends of the earth with her running, raising huge amounts for Alzheimers Scotland, details for her incredible runs out in Antarctica last year can be found here http://antarcticodyssey.co.uk/ .

I’d camped at the Lochside and woke up to a frost which could only mean pleasant cool conditions. I got chatting to Gerry Craig, who had finished second last year, who raved about the course but mentioned “that a few would know all about the hills by the finish”. I ran the first 15km at a comfortable pace, having had a large week in training. At the half way point I remember feeling pretty fresh and thinking about a negative split. That is how it proved, with the second half being a mix of hellos to other competitors (it is an out and back course) and looking around at the scenery. Needing the toilet is a great incentive to speed up for the last few kilometres, and the second half of the race was 4 minutes quicker than the first, hitting the tape in 2-49. I was pleased with the run, which took 8 minutes off the course record and was good enough for first place.

Needing the toilet - picture credit Susan Harley

Needing the toilet – picture credit Susan Harley

This is definitely a race I can recommend for someone looking for a course of outstanding beauty- although is definitely not a PB course. It also raises plenty cash for an outstanding charity. On the subject of generosity, a huge thanks to Muir of Ord Jog Scotland group for their generosity in supporting SAMH, a charity I am passionate about. I have been fortunate to share stories and talks in Muir of Ord, Inverness, Glasgow and a few other places in the last few weeks and have a few upcoming in the next few weeks. I really enjoy hearing the stories of others, and getting ideas for the next race or adventure.

Antarctica united, with race organiser Audrey McIntosh - Credit Colin Smith

Antarctica united, with race organiser Audrey McIntosh – Credit Colin Smith

I am not sure where I will race next, but may do Lochaber marathon or possibly the Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon in a couple weeks. I have been selected to run for Scotland in the Home Nations Championships (Anglo Celtic Plate) at the start of May so will be putting the hours in on the road, as well as the hills.

Thanks as always to coach Donnie Campbell, and to Merrell UK as ever for their support.