Tales From The Land of Dragons

Over the next few posts I am going to try to capture my experience of participating in the 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race: a 5-day journey down the 315 km mountain spine of Wales. Starting at Conwy Castle in the north, the race covers a diverse range of mountain terrain before reaching Llandeilo in the south. Over the course of the journey, the race climbs over 15,500 meters – roughly twice the height of Everest.

The adventure has left me with many memories, new friends and a vast range of emotions.

Each day was a unique series of mini adventures which wove themselves into a larger, richer experience – an experience that will last a lifetime.

I’m not good at writing race reports, so don’t expect to find that here. What I plan to share is an insight into how I felt participating in this mythical and iconic event.

All adventures need a staring point. I’m not sure when the decision to enter the DBR happened, but I do know when I decided to start running again, and it is that decision that brought me to the start line at Conwy.

It’s late April in 2015. I’ve just visited the Olympic stadium in London, and I’ve had this sudden urge to run again after 25 years of not running! A quick trip to TK Maxx, and I have my kit sorted. I’m up at 6am the next morning for a 1/2 mile jog from my hotel to the Houses of Parliament and back!

Fast forward to May 2019 and I am about to start the Dragon’s Back Race. How the hell did that happen?

In short, I’ve had a whirlwind romance with trail running that has grown stronger and stronger. You see, I used to run, until injury and bad advice stopped me running for 25 years – but on that April day in 2015, I was back for good.

The journey to the start line of the DBR has been an awesome adventure in itself. However, I knew that to stand a chance of finishing the race I had to up my game in terms of speed, distance and hill work. My mountaineering background has prepared me well for long, back-to-back days on the hill. However, it is one thing to be able to cover the distance, but an altogether different challenge to be able to cover it within the race cutoff times.

My plan was simple: to get in as many hill days as possible running and hiking over steep rough terrain, with a few back-to-back adventures thrown in for good measure. I live close to the Cairngorms and my job involves travelling around the north of Scotland, so I am fortunate to be able to get out on the hill on a regular basis.

Looking back, the following six things probably helped the most in preparing for the event:

  1. Completing a multi-day stage race over rough terrain.
  2. Entering an event organised by the same team.
  3.  Running as many Munros and Corbets as possible.
  4. Running regular back-to-back days on tired legs.
  5. Completing a multi-day fast packing journey, carrying a heavier pack, one month before the event.
  6. Finding some friends to share the experience with.

In 2018 I completed OUREA Event’s sister, multi-day stage race, the Cape Wrath Ultra. This helped me appreciate exactly what running a race of this type involved. From this event I took away three key learning points. One, avoid pre-race injuries at all costs. I entered the CWU with an underlying injury. This flared up on day 3 and had to be managed. Two, admin is key – and making sure you are efficient in camp is critical to maximise recovery. I wasted too much time faffing on CWU, mainly because I had too much stuff with me. Less is definitely more when it comes to stage racing. Three, find some friends to run with. If you are a middle to back of the pack runner like me, you are going to be on the hill a long time – anywhere between 10 -14 hours. I like my own company, but not that much! Surrounding yourself with a bunch of like-minded people will make all the difference. They will support you though the difficult times and make you laugh when you need it most. On CWU, I had the fortune to run with the best.

What I hadn’t realised at the time was that by participating in an OUREA event I was also picking up valuable intel on how the whole event functioned, including registration, daily kit checks, food, washing up and the all important strike system for bad behaviour! This background knowledge was invaluable in helping manage my time in camp during the DBR.

In the year leading up to the race, I set myself the challenge of running as many Scottish hills as possible. I focused on altitude gain rather than speed or distance. On the DBR you spend most of your time going up or down, frequently over very rough and steep ground, with the odd rock scramble thrown in for good measure. You need to be strong on the up and steady on the down. Most injuries happen on the down, with a missed foot placement leading at best to a wobble and some jarring and at worst to full flight and a face plant – something to avoid at all costs on steep rocky terrain.

The race organisers make it clear that if you can survive until the end of day 3 then the odds of finishing are on your side. Part of that is down to the challenging landscape you cross on days 1 and 2. However, in my opinion, it is as much down to being able to get up and repeat day after day. The body is often tougher than the mind, so you need to be good at convincing your mind that it’s ok to run on tired legs – and the best way to do this is to get used to running long distances back-to-back. To motivate myself to do this, I set myself some mini adventures in the 6 months leading up to the race – including running round the Island of Unst, arguably the inspiration for R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

The 3 days fast packing with a heavy pack one month before was, in hindsight, probably the most valuable bit of training I did leading up to the event. The 70 plus miles of the Pennine Way we covered over 2.5 days was tough, but meant that by the time the DBR came around I knew I’d be running with a much lighter pack.

In any long distance race, friends are important. Let’s be honest, most of us are there to get to the finish line – getting there in good style with a good time comes way lower down on the list. In my opinion, friends are key to getting to that finish line. In a later post I will tell you why I think they matter so much. However, in short, they make it fun, rewarding and something that can be shared. On the CWU they were absolutely invaluable and I’m not sure I would have got to the end without them. However, I knew the same people would not be running DBR, so new friends were needed – and yet again, I found the best.

In the following chapters I will take you through each day of the race – the magical moments and the tough times. I’m going to try to give you a real sense of what it was like to be there – and if I inspire you to take on your own DBR, whatever that may be, I will have done my job.

When I run I don’t like to listen to music, as I find it takes away from being in the moment. But once I am home, events seem to adopt a soundtrack.

And boy do I have a soundtrack building for this race – starting with this retro classic!

‘Rock n Roll Fantasy’ – Bad Company.

Enjoy!

 

Chapter One: In at the Deep End

Chapter Two: Misty Mountain Hop

 

A New Home!

Welcome to the Unintentional Ultra Runner’s new home. I have decided that the time has come to start a proper blog.  I am still going to keep posting to my Facebook page but have decided that I need more flexibility to share my thoughts and experiences. Over the coming months my plan is to create some pages on specific themes such as the kit I use for events, details of classic trail runs and general trail tips that I have picked up. I also plan to revise and re-post some trail tales from my past adventures. The first of these will revisit the Spine Challenger. I will also be focusing on my preparation for my Dragon’s Back attempt in May 2019 – an event which is going to be beyond anything I have attempted so far.

For me, trail running and adventure racing has opened up a whole new world of enjoyment and challenge – a world in which I have met many new friends, explored new places and experienced new highs (and lows).  It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to share these with you.

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Not Running – Noticing!

Quite often I forget to look around me when I’m running, especially in a race environment. The pressure to keep up with other folk, do a good time, get a PB can sometimes get in the way of seeing and sensing what is around you. So to make up for a summer which has been filled with adventure and events I went for a slow stroll around one of my favourite running routes and wow, just wow – nature at its best 😊

There and Back Again – A Cross Scotland Adventure Race

The last five days has been a true journey of discovery in many different way. I’ve learnt so much about myself, what the body can do and how the mind copes under real pressure and stress.

The ITERA Adventure Race across the north of Scotland has been everything I had hoped for and more. It has been the best and worst of times.

Route Map: Heywood Collection
Thanks to SleepMonsters for some of the images

I’ll need time to reflect on how I’m going to share the full story, if I ever will. Plus I need to finish that Dragon’s Back write up first.

The good news is there is excellent coverage here https://www.sleepmonsters.com/ that gives a real sense of what we have been up to.

My team mates Nikki, Clare and Kate (Team 14 Knackered N.I.C.Ks) are three of the toughest, smartest and inspirational people I have had the pleasure to journey with. They literally and metaphorically pulled, carried and navigated me round the course.

Thanks to Amanda for the tracking photo

Will I ever do another multi sport adventure race. The jury is out on that one!

Thanks to Charlotte for our finishing pics!

Adventure Race!

Now this is going to be different. If you are wondered why I have not finished my DB write up. Here is the reason. I have been preparing for this! Bike, kayak, and mountain bike across Scotland and back over 5 days – game on! There are long course and short course options. Our plan is to follow the short course – with the best bits (mountains) from the long course. As we are all new to this we want to have fun, play it safe and build in time for sleep. If you see us off route don’t panic as only the long course is mapped.  The short course follows a similar line and it’s still a long way!

http://live.opentracking.co.uk/itera19/

Chapter 3: Tales From The Land Of Dragons: Misplaced Ideals

We are not where we should be! We should have listened to Louise. After all, she had recced the route. It’s my fault – I thought that I had seen a better line. But it’s not better, it’s much worse and is actually a dead end. There is a cliff band in front and no easy way down. Corri and I check both left and right. There is a possible way off, but it would be a long detour. We are not lost, just misplaced. We can see the rest of the runners way below us. They have descended from the summit via a long stone shoot. The only option is to double back and see if we can traverse above the cliffs and enter the stone shoot at its mid-point. After some delicate contouring, through bracken and deep heather, we re-join everyone else.  Looking back up the stone shoot, the route might not have been that bad after all – at least we have not been in the firing line of rocks dislodged by fellow runners.  As if to confirm this, there is a low crash followed by an a lingering echo as another boulder moves downward.

It is day 2 of the Dragon’s Back and we are deep in heart of the Rhinogs. This section of the race is notorious for the rough, pathless nature of the terrain, and justifiably so. Since  passing through the support point we have been negotiating boulder fields, scree slopes and steep ascents and descents. This is some of the toughest terrain on the race route, and to make matters worse it comes 20 miles into the day.

The good news is that time is on our side, as an early start saw us pass through today’s cut-off 1 hour 45 minutes up on the 15:00 closure time.

At the support point I was ready to show off my new found culinary skills. I was desperate to impress and move on from yesterday’s cheese butty scenario. The strategy was simple. One tin of tuna, fresh tomatoes and a wholemeal wrap, topped off with a side order of crisps and an apple for dessert. What could possibly go wrong? A lot! I soon discovered I had not packed the wraps or the tomatoes, and my fork was misplaced.

“What are you eating today”, Louise said – or was it Corri? I put on a brave face and smiled.

“Tuna and Salt and Vinegar Crisps”, I replied, as I tried to eat the tuna with my fingers. Their combined looks said it all. I’d need a miracle tomorrow if I stood any chance of rebuilding my culinary credibility.

In a stage race like DBR it makes sense to get started early, especially if you are a mid to back of the pack runner. Earlier starts mean you have more of a margin for dealing with anything that happens – such as getting ‘misplaced’. It also gives your hunter-gatherer chum more chance to seek out sustenance. Earlier in the day we had been impressed by Corri’s ability to find the only opportunity to shop. Louise and I had both walked right past the pub before Corri’s questioning voice could be heard: ”Aren’t we stopping for Coke?”

Actually, it wasn’t really phrased as a question, more a clear instruction. 5 minutes later I had requisitioned two pints of said liquid, which we were now passing between us in something resembling a bizarre drinking game. In my opinion, no amount of scientific endeavour has yet come up with anything quite like the refreshing and re-energising power of full-leaded Coke. You can keep all your gels and power bars  – in events like this a good dose of Coke is all you need (along with a bag of salt and vinegar crisps) to keep you going forward.

This un-planned stop for refreshments was the icing on the cake of what had been a fantastic morning’s running. Quite amazingly, the three of us seemed to have recovered overnight, despite the limited sleep (4 hours, max). Actual horizontal resting time was probably more like six hours, but it takes times for the legs to relax and muscles to unwind. When this is combined with the crashing of the port-a-loo doors and tent mates finishing late, it was usually way past 11:00 before we were able to drift off.

I have had to look at the map to remind me of what actually happened on day 2, as much of it is a blur. Overall it was a fantastic day. As I have already said, we were running well – and looking back highlights included the ascent of Cnicht in the early morning, seeing the Flestiniog Steam Train, climbing the Roman steps into the Rhinogs and crossing the old toll bridge at the end of the day.

We reached camp around 13 hours after setting out. The last few miles on the road and bike path were tough going after a hard hill day. However, it was some consolation to know that we were not following the 2017 route, which went through some undulating forest terrain on the other side of the river.

Back at camp the admin, food, sleep ritual took over, The competition to see which of us had the most Dragon Mail (messages sent by friends that are printed out for you on presentation of your race number) created much hilarity, as message strips were measured for their length. I think Louise won on Tuesday 😊.

We retired to bed in high spirits – day 2 had been a challenge, but we had put on a good show and finished in a respectable time.

The last word has to go to our friends on the crew: Nikki, Matt and Barbara.  Seeing you all at the end of each day made a huge difference and kept our spirits high. Hugs, smiles and praise matter, and you shared it in spades – thank you.

Day 2’s tune for the soundtrack is an old favourite from Journey: Don’t Stop Believin’

Chapter 2 Tales From The Land Of Dragons: Misty Mountain Hop

Corri’s car makes it, but it doesn’t sound good. There are some dubious noises coming from the wheel bearings. I tell myself it’s made it this far, and if it was going to break down it would have done so before now. With one last defiant screech we glide smoothly into the event car park. Using my mental energy to keep the wheel bearing moving has distracted me from fretting about the race.

Corri checks in her drop bag (500g below the 5kg limit – awesome planning). I do wonder what is in there. Mine came in at 3kg. What have I missed? What secret weapons are stashed in there, ready to be deployed later?

As we approach the castle, thoughts of the Hunger Games return. Fellow competitors are hanging about supporting a vast array of expressions, from the quietly confident to the quietly terrified. It’s not a place to loiter, so we wander off on a fruitless search for caffeine!

Roughly 13 hours and 12 minutes later we have finished day 1. Louise and I are sitting outside tent 9, and to be honest, I think we are a little bit in shock. It has been an awesome day. We’ve made it though the cutoffs with ample time to spare, and we are both in good shape. We lost Corri on the last part of the Snowdon horseshoe – that lady can sure run downhill.

So far three people have arrived in our tent, and each has laid claim to one of the double sleeping berths. We decide to share the last double pod. I promise Louise I don’t snore – but for one night only, I do!

Next we both focus on our admin; baby-wipe bath, feet, pack refill and clean clothes. The next task is to sort the bedroom. I’ve treated myself to a new inflatable mat with a built in pump. Louise is almost in tears as my attempts to resuscitate said mat become almost farcical! I love a good innovation but this is not it – bring back my yellow karimat. That said, it is very comfy.

Heywood collection

Bedroom sorted, it’s food time and and an opportunity to catch up with Corri. I watch enviously as the girls devour plate after plate of food while I struggle to eat. I always find it hard to eat on the first evening of any multi-day trip – but I know it will be ok tomorrow, so I eat what I can.

Over the course of the meal we reflect on the day’s adventures. It has, without doubt, been one of the most epic hill days ever.

The start was intimidating and difficult to take in. Trapped within the castle walls, there was no escape. The sense of anticipation was electric and actually quite oppressive. Everyone just wanted to go. Two years of waiting * 400 plus runners was a lot of energy to be discharged.

Heywood collection

For Louise and I, the tension was broken by the arrival of a good friend who had sneaked into the runners-only area to wish us luck. This awesome lady should have been running the race with us. She is already a 🐉 and knows the way. She was to be our GPS – however, circumstances meant we were a friend down. But she was here on day one to point us in the right direction. VRM, you really don’t know how much that meant to Louise and I – thank you 😊

Then we were off. We lost Corri in the castle gift shop (the race goes through it!). The run/walk around the castle walls was both bizarre and magical. Then we were out on the fell, climbing gradually into the mist.

Heywood collection

The first 15 miles were a joy – I love climbing like this. The gradient was relatively gentle and the mist allowed the landscape to unfold before us like the pages of an unread book. I knew there was a plot twist coming, but for the moment I was happy to enjoy the unfolding story. Corri and I had not recced the route. To be honest I prefer not to, as for me it spoils the adventure. I understand why people do, and that is fine – but for me the uncertainty of the journey is a very important dimension of the experience. Anyway, this was to be my recce. If I got to the end, great, but if I didn’t it would be fantastic prep for the next time. It’s a philosophy I’ve stuck to over many a year in the mountains, and has helped avoid the ‘push on regardless’ approach that can often lead to trouble.

Before we knew it we were descending to the Ogwen valley checkpoint and an opportunity for me to find out what Corri had in that drop bag! I soon discovered the girls had this sorted. Louise extracted a mini fridge with a full packed lunch as Corri tucked into baked beans and sausage followed by fruit and jelly. My own day-old cheese butty felt out of place in such company. I realised I was going to have to tap into my inner master chef tomorrow if I was going to compete on the culinary front.

However, there was no time to waste – after all we had Tryfan and the Snowdon Horseshoe to do. Tryfan is just a slog with some scrambling followed by a scary scree ascent onto the Glyders. The key, as always, is not to stop, and a steady pace saw us safely past the Castle of the Winds (where they once filmed a movie called Dragonslayer – no connection).

A good friend of ours gave us a photo he took of this place for a wedding present. It will now have a whole different set of memories linked to it.

Then it was steeply down to the YHA at Pen-y-Pass. Corri volunteered to go ahead and find refreshments and Louise and I arrived to bottles of ice-cold fizzy orange! It turns out Corri is a born hunter-gatherer, and for the following 4 days she uncovered every possible re-supply point and outmanoeuvred other runners to keep Louise and I fed and watered!

The good news was that we had all done Crib Goch before, so there were no surprises. It’s steep and airy, but the holds are good – and as long as you have a head for heights it’s ok.

Rose-Miller and Heywood collections

But wait… there was a surprise in store. Our friend VRM had perched herself on the ridge and was busy snapping pictures. What a special moment. I actually had to blink a tear away (it was the wind in my eye, honest).

Then it was on to the summit and the long descent into camp.

Over our various recovery drinks that evening, we all agreed it had been an awesome day on the hill. We made our way to bed committed to giving day 2 our best shot.

Heywood collection

As to my achillies – well, I think it just waved a white flag at the first hill climb and agreed to behave.

Next time you can find out how we got on crossing the infamous Rhinogs, and discover what delights our hunter-gatherer chum tracked down next.

As to the soundtrack, only once choice really: Misty Mountain Hop – Led Zeppelin.

Official day 1 video can be found here.

 

Tales from the Land of Dragons

Chapter One: In at the Deep End

Tales From The Land Of Dragons – Chapter 1: In at the Deep End

It is the week before the race and everything is going wrong. I’ve just gone out for a run and convinced myself that my achilles has gone. The fact that I’ve just watched ‘Troy’ the movie might well have had something to do with it. Why oh why did I watch a film about the fate of Achilles before this race? I should just have watched Paddington.

I guess it could have been worse – I could have watched the Hunger Games. Thankfully statistics show that at least more than 2 competitors survive the Dragon’s Back event. However, the odds are not as positive as I would like them to be. At the bootcamp, Shane Ohly (event organiser) made it very clear that, statistically, 50% of us in the room were unlikely to make the finish – cheery chap that he is!

Last training run: achilles incident

It’s not only my achilles that is the problem. I have left my glasses at one of three possible hotels and discovered my spare pair are somewhat bent out of shape! I am also having difficulty deciding which kit to take. I know what I should be taking – I’ve been testing it for weeks, and I know it works – but there is a really annoying voice in my head questioning my decisions. At this rate I will be lucky to make the start line.

My family have also had enough – all I do is talk Dragon 🐉. Even the postman is in on the action, with parcels arriving daily with stuff I really think I’m going to need but eventually leave behind.

In a final blind panic, the Friday before the race, I call my physio to see if I can squeeze in an emergency appointment to sort out my achilles. Not a chance – they are fully booked until next Wednesday. Can I come in then? Err, no. That’s crunch day if I make it past days 1 and 2. I ask if she has any advice. The answer is perfection: ‘Just go run – you will soon know if it’s a real problem, and if it is, stop. If it’s not, go on and finish the race’.

It’s a perfect answer, because it is so black and white. If it hurts, stop. If it doesn’t. carry on.

And, as if by magic, this one piece of sensible advice has a transformational impact on my final prep. Gone is the procrastination – items of kit are selected, hill food chosen and decisions made with ease. Before I know it I have streamlined my kit and am ready to head south.

After all, if it hurts too much and I am not enjoying myself I can always stop!

I’ve stopped in a race before – and amongst my running friends the event is infamous, and lovingly known as the ‘ice-cream incident’. If you scroll back through my blog posts you will find out when it happened!

By Saturday morning everything is packed and we’re heading south, leaving Scotland for Wales. For the first time ever my entire family is heading for the start line with me! Except they’re not. They have just decided that my participation in an event in Wales is a good excuse for a holiday, and have booked a cottage in North Wales for the week. Several of my CWU friends are somewhat sceptical about this, suggesting it makes it too easy for me to bail out. Have they no faith?

On Saturday evening I head out for a run with my daughter, Mel. She’s decided to take up running and, yep, she is faster than me. My achilles is still complaining – or I’ve decided it is. It’s a beautiful evening, and apart from getting lost in a field of goats things are looking good – apart from my achilles, that is.

That evening Nikki Sommers from CWU drops by for a family photoshoot (don’t ask, it’s too complicated!). Nikki is on the medical team for the race and keen to know how I’m feeling. Yep, you guessed it, I foolishly mention my achilles. After a bit of prodding and a few thoughtful looks I get the MTFU look that only Nikki can administer.

Sunday goes by in a blur. At registration I meet up with Corri Black and Louise Greenwood. Corri is based up in Scotland and we’ve had a couple of fun hill days together leading up to the race. Louise and I ran the Nav4 Lakes 42 together back in April. Although we have not actually formally agreed to run together, I’ve got a feeling this could be an awesome partnership. They are both much stronger runners with heaps of experience. Louise has also recced big chunks of the race,  which is something neither Corri nor myself have managed to do.

Registration and the briefing are soon done. We decide to skip the buffet as the queue is massive, and make a mental note to be ready for this at breakfast on day 2 – if we get that far!

Only one incident casts a shadow of doubt over my otherwise positive mood. Just after completing kit check, I bump into the lady who gave me a lift back to the start of race I bailed on during the ice-cream incident (mentioned above). Her partner is running in the event! I know ultra running is a small community, but this is a real spooky coincidence.

With all my bags dropped off, there is nothing left for me to faff with on Sunday evening. However, I still find time to pack and re-pack my running sack!

Next thing I know, it’s 4:30 am on Monday morning. Corri has kindly agreed to give me a lift to the start. The family breathed a huge sigh of relief when that news broke, as it meant they didn’t need to get out of bed! To be fair, the start of an ultra run is not the most exciting spectator sport.

After a short walk to meet Corri we are on our way to the start at Conwy castle, and it has all suddenly become very real indeed.

Next time you’ll find out how that achilles held up and what befell us on day 1.

As to the soundtrack for this chapter, it just had to be Shallow from a ‘Star is Born’

It really doesn’t take much imagination to change the context and reframe the words:

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

By Monday morning we were definitely in at the deep end and out of the shallow 😂.

Click here for the official film of Registration.

 

Tales From the Land of Dragons

Chapter Two: Misty Mountain Hop

 

How To Train Your Dragon

My daughter has started running! And she is faster and more agile than me! To say I am impressed and proud would be an understatement. Not only has she started to run, she is planning to run everyday for a month as a way to raise funds for her own dance adventure.

A tour that will take her to Melbourne, Australia in June/July with The National Youth Dance Company of Scotland (NYDCS).

We have just done the maths and it looks like she will be doing the equivalent of two Dragon’s Back days over that time.

No mean feat, especially when you are in full time study, performing with NYDCS and preparing for the, up and coming, international tour.

NYDCS is an awesome company supported by YDance Organisation – which helps young people to pursue their creative ambition and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit. The dancers have to raise a large part of the cost for this trip.

Like me – if you think that is a worthwhile cause – your support would be welcome. To show your support click on the link below.

Send NYDCS to Australia

And you never know, but I really think there might genuinely be a ‘Dragon’ in training here!

Dragon‘s Back 😱

So it is finally here.

The Dragon’s Back Race is not something I ever really planned to attempt it just sort of happened. For those of you who know your Tolkien, I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit. He never intended to be a burglar, or attempt to steal from a dragon!

DBR will definitely be my toughest mountain race so far. If you are interested in knowing more about the background to the event check out the link below. In short, it’s a five day mountain race traversing the spine of Wales from north to south.

It doesn’t sound quite so bad if you say it quickly 😂

Whatever happens it’s going to be an awesome adventure.

You will be able to follow my journey (starting 7am Monday) and send motivational messages of support here:

http://www.berghausdragonsbackrace.com

I plan to try and post a few updates / but don’t expect too much – because when I’m not moving I plan to be eating or sleeping.

When looking for appropriate dragon related quotes. This one by Craig Ferguson, who was the voice of Gobber In How to Train Your Dragon, made me laugh.

“I’m not so much a dragon slayer, more a dragon annoyer — I’m a dragon irritater”

Like Bilbo – I just hope I can sneak by before waking him up 🐉

A Right Royal Run

If you are looking for a trail run to impress your friends then this is one for you. Once a year the grounds of the Queen’s estate in Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, become a Mecca for trail runners. Events cover distances from 5k to 15miles. There is also a duathlon and the infamous ‘Devil of Deeside’ which sees some individuals take on all the events!

The races take runners on a journey through some awesome landscapes. The trails are perfect for those new to trail running and the atmosphere friendly. The event usually runs on the same weekend as the London Marathon – so if you want to leave the tar and the crowds behind this might just be the event you are looking for.

I’ll be there again next year – but it’s just down the road from my home patch so it would be rude not to!

https://runbalmoral.com/content/