This weekend I ran a race. But I didn’t race a race. I just ran it for the sheer enjoyment of running! Or at least that was my intention. This half marathon isn’t in the p.b. range, so why did I bother traipsing a 260 mile round trip to it?

Well for a while my flatmate, Steve Gray of Arbroath Footers, has extolled on the wonderfulness that is Glen Clova. In doing so he has amassed a collection of Glen Clova half marathon mugs. And for a while I have coveted these as the pinnacle souvenirs of running. With the combination of a trip to Arbroath and a new race in the countryside, I was excited by the prospect!

The Glen Clova half marathon is a hilly road race setting out in a loop from the Glen Clova hotel within the fringes of the Cairngorm National Park. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, this race undulates so as you turn a corner and rise up one hill, you’re back again and climbing back up another.

I haven’t run a half marathon since March so was a little bit anxious of how I would perform, despite knowing I was running it for fun I was still conscious of hitting the mile markers in my own time. I shouldn’t have. Planning for the next hill up and down and up and down again put paid to such thinking. It is a truly stunning location and with excellent weather on Saturday we were very lucky to have the sunshine baking on our backs. Not bad for November! Although now I think about, it’ll probably rain, hail, snow, be sunny again followed by a combination of more precipitation next year…

Despite starting off relatively quickly, the field soon dispersed into a steady rhythm and I was on my own. Fortunately ahead I noticed a solitary Forfar Road Runner, Keith Headridge, who was taking the same tempo as me on the second mile. I hasten to add at this point that Mr Bonnyman of this parish was there too but he was well in front of me and a good 200+ others. This proved fruitful as I gratefully gained some company and a Jelly Baby from Keith; this kept my focus on the race. Taking in the scenery we exchanged some pleasantries around the course and dismissed any allusion of Alan Sillitoe’s pained “Loneliness”. However, I began to feel another sort of pain in the form of stinging resonating through my legs at the tenth mile. Regardless of this I was keen to push on and lost a few places on the final hills. Disappointing? Not at all, it was tough going and I was well and truly Glen Clova-ed!

I’d definitely recommend this race. It’s well organised by Forfar Road Runners, the route is clearly marked out and as there’s one road in and out to the hotel you won’t see much passing traffic. If you like you can stay at the Glen Clova hotel, where they have a ceilidh for runners in the evening or even just a wee half pint after the race. As well as this, at the end you get some soup, a roll and a well-stocked bag of fruit, sweet and savoury goodies in addition to your very own cherished ceramic chalice.

Results:

1. Nick Milovsorov – Unattached – 74.14
2. Chris Russell – Fife – 76.06
3. Roger Van Gompel – Dundee Hawkhill Harriers – 78.28

5. Brian Bonnyman – Forfar Road Runners/Westerlands – 79.23

9. Steve Gray – Arbroath Footers – 82.22

52. 1st Female: Niamh Mooney – Unattached – 92.58

55. Ciaran McDonald – Westerlands – 93.35

Results in full:
http://forfarroadrunners.co.uk/site/sites/default/files/GlenClova%202011results.pdf

Photos: http://www.roadrunpics.com/011GlenClovaHM.html

Race details: http://forfarroadrunners.co.uk/site/Clova_Half_Marathon

Race route: http://www.mapmywalk.com/s/routes/view/run-jog-map/united-kingdom/glen-clova-angus/4528792

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