|The hills above Glen Banchor|
Last year it looked as though the Lynx Pack were in terminal decline, and I’m not just talking about running. Their post race efforts too were just becoming lamentable with folk sneaking off to bed early and such like.
This time however it’s the turn of the race to go into
terminal decline as opposed to the runners as after a stint of 10 years as race
organiser Geoff has decided that the traffic, police and marshalling problems
have just gotten out of hand and he has understandably decided to call time on
it. Yes folks, sadly the Newtonmore 10 mile race is no more. So what to do to
fill the gaping void left by the demise of this fun weekend? After all some form of running related activity was definitely required. Unwilling to let
the weekend die out the slightly less ambitious target of Aviemore park run was
decided upon as the weekend’s race and so off we went.
|That is not a promising start....|
|Bert tries to hide the evidence|
|Mike was just saying how much he was looking forward to the run|
I was debating the wisdom of this as I had spent the previous morning skiing at the Lecht and the previous afternoon running (or more accurately sliding around in the snow) around the hills of Glen Banchor but as soon as I started a warm up run the stiffness left my legs and I felt fine. I was starting to regret the cooked food that I’d had for breakfast though. I finished warming up just as the race was lining up for the start and off we went along the trail. This parkrun is a fun low key event on an out and back route along a stretch of the Speyside way starting at the edge of the industrial estate in Aviemore and luckily at least the first part was in the shelter of the trees on this cold windy morning. Happily though the ground was frozen solid and was dry so that there were no patches of ice to contend with as the previous week’s parkrun had been cancelled due to the icy conditions. This week the path was hard and although a bit rutted in places it was completely runnable. The shelter of the trees meant that the wind wasn’t too noticeable for the first half of the race but it certainly made itself felt on the return journey and I felt a bit sorry for the race marshal at the turnabout point which was at just about the most exposed section of the course. I had started out reasonably quickly and had found myself in the lead (all the while mildly regretting the cooked breakfast) before the turning point which left the second half of the race for me to worry about being caught by Bert (and majorly regretting the cooked breakfast) who I had supposed was rapidly closing me down and I was thankful that the path was slightly undulating as I could keep a good pace up. I was quite relieved to see the finish line though. Everyone finished well, the cooked breakfast stayed down – always a bonus, and Geoff did a grand job of taking photos before heading back to the café for the compulsory post parkrun tea and scones while warming up again.
In the afternoon the group dispersed and everyone did their own thing, Hamish went for another run. Yes, really. John went for a trip up to the Cairngorm Ski centre in the funicular railway on what was possibly the windiest day of the year while Geoff headed for the pub to watch the rugby. Feeling that a race of only 5k wasn't really quite enough to justify an afternoon in the bar Bert and I decided on a wee mountain walk and did the loop from the visitor centre taking in Meall a Bhuchaille. Many of the ski lifts were actually closed by Saturday afternoon due to the strength of the wind and it was testing enough at the summit to make me glad that we hadn’t attempted anything higher than a corbett. It was very cold. But despite the cold day there were a lot of people about taking in the glorious sights of the Cairngorm mountains such as the green loch (Lochan Uaine) tucked in amongst the ancient Caledonia pine forest and Ryvoan bothy .
|A room with a view|
I hid in amongst the ring of stones on the summit next to the trig point in an attempt to stay warm and out of the wind while I took in the views and tried to take some photos until the battery on my Iphone succumbed to the cold and finally gave up the ghost. We finished the walk at the visitor centre both feeling a bit washed out, the cold conditions and the mornings run possibly taking a bit more out of us than we realised, but we quickly recovered once we had hot food inside.
On our return we found Geoff in the bar, looking as though he had been there all afternoon, as the party raged all around him. Scotland had beaten England at the rugby and the bar was jumping. Even the Camanachd Cup was filled with whisky and passed round for us all to share.
|The celebrating the score|
|He hung in there well...|
|Still going strong...|
It was the kick off to of a very good evening and this year nobody was sloping off to bed ridiculously early. So, is this the Lynx pack renaissance? Have the party animals of old made a come back? Such was the enthusiasm all manner of different ideas for running related weekends away and holidays were being discussed by the end of the evening.
The next morning I woke up silly early for some bizzare and inexplicable reason and decided to try to see the sunrise over the hills, returning in time for breakfast.
Sundays entertainment was more leisurely. A wee trip on the funicular railway up to the ski centre and ptarmigan restaurant on Cairngorm. I had never been on the funicular railway before having always preferred to get up the mountain under my own steam so it was quite a nice novelty trip and a relaxing way to travel as the driver (is there a driver on one of these things?) gave her wee talk about the history and mechanics of the funicular. We went outside to watch the skiers as the wind had dropped considerably overnight (yes I was jealous, the snow looked great), visited the museum and café (yet more coffee and scones) before returning to the foot of the mountain.
|Bert thinking about investing in some mountain climbing gear...|
|A frozen Loch Morlich|