We’re just back from an awesome weekend of running and outdoor family time 😁 The running may have been separate but there were plenty of Miles Together supporting and cheering on the runners over the weekend at the Blair Castle Trail Weekender. This was a new event for this year and as it’s pretty much local to us signing up was a no-brainer. Camping on site was a real bonus for us as it made it easy to bring the family and meant everyone could be involved. It would be great if in future years there are children races as well but understand with COVID restrictions planning any event has been tricky this year! Julie signed up for the 30k Dearg Up ‘n’ Doon race on the Saturday and Iain signed up for the 60k Full Tilt Ultra race on the Sunday. There were also 10k and 5k routes on offer. Full race report blogs to follow soon!
Camping and registration opened at 8am on the Saturday with Julie’s race being started in 2 waves at 10.30 and 10.50. This meant a relatively leisurely start in the morning! The car was loaded the night before, with only a few last minute extras (including a lot of food!) to be added in the morning. Julie had been overly optimistic in thinking everything would fit in the car without the roof box or trailer so it ended up being a tightly-packed journey, but luckily less than an hour up the A9! We arrived at the event village at about 9 am, Julie registered for her race and we found a spot in the camping area to pitch the tent. There was space for the car next to the tent which was ideal. The camping area wasn’t the most scenic area of the field, but did the job and was flat! There were plenty of portaloos, so no queuing required and they were emptied and restocked with loo roll on the Saturday evening which meant they were ‘ok’ all weekend!
This was the first outing for our new weekend / backpacking tent for 6! We got a cheap Ozark teepee tent from eBay as we wanted something lightweight and a small pack size that Iain and I can carry between us for future family adventures. This teepee tent was the best we could find and on its first weekend outing performed brilliantly. Because of only having the single middle pole it goes up in minutes and has loads of room and height inside. We comfortably slept 6 inside with bags as well. The tent felt nice and secure with plenty of guy ropes and it has an inner with sewn in groundsheet and separate outer which meant there was no water leakage after a rain shower overnight and no midges inside (the kids were good at keeping the inner tent zipped up!). The kids loved the teepee and everyone slept well – Iain and I were cold but that was our own fault as we also tried out our very lightweight sleeping bags.
The tent went up so quickly we had lots of time before Julie’s race started. Julie found the waiting around quite hard, especially as it was turning into such a hot day, it felt like we were missing the best bit of the day for running in! However it meant there was time for a little extra food and even a cup of tea before the race. There was a degree of disorganisation which meant the race eventually started 20mins late. Julie was in the second wave which didn’t start until 11.10 (more waiting in the sun). The race was timed on wrist dibbers that linked to recording boxes when you were within 4-5m of them. This system worked well as it was non contact and you could check it had worked as the dibber flashed and made a noise when it had registered. There were recording boxes at the start, finish and top of Being Dearg (on both tops on the Sunday). Finally Julie was off!
Iain then had to entertain the children for a few hours while Julie went to have some fun in the hills 😁 After spectating as the 5k runners passed by – although we weren’t quite sure where they would come from as the course had been changed the day before – some tree climbing, and a trail-side Spotify disco, Julie ran into view. Angus and Isla ran the last mile to the finish with her, and the others short-cutted to the finish line for the all-important finish photo!
After the race we had a quick fuel and re-hydration stop at the tent before having a wander down into Blair Atholl village to get some ice creams and a quick play in the very small park. As a bonus we saw a train pass at the level crossing! Sadly there were no ice creams in the event village but you could get hot food, coffee and beer (Top Out Brewery). There was also a physio that seemed to be busy all weekend, Våga caps (Iain’s review coming soon) and ‘Adventure Yoga’ at different times over the weekend. We stopped at the food van on our way back from the village and got some lovely chips to go with our hot dogs and beans for tea – luckily just caught them before they closed for the night! You can’t beat a camping tea after a day outside in the sun! There were a few midges but not too many – Julie is usually a magnet for them but got away with only a couple of bites all weekend. We then played a few games before an early night for all!
We woke just before 7 the next morning having all had a reasonable nights sleep. Iain cooked breakfast of bacon rolls on the stove and everyone got themselves sorted for the day. Iain’s race started promptly at 9am and then Julie and the kids stayed around for the 10k start at 10.30am (a few card games while we waited as no one quite had the enthusiasm for yoga!). Once we had seen the 10k race off we headed up to the half way point on the 60k race so we could cheer everyone on. It had the bonus of also being on the 10k route so we were able to also give them a cheer as they finished their uphill section at just about half way. There were a few 10k runners out in front before the rest of the pack came through. The 60k runners were already well spread out and quite a few were ready for the aid station that was aa little further down the path. The aid station had looked very well stocked and the kids had been quite upset they couldn’t have the Haribo (they had to make do with the hula hoops in the picnic!). While we watched the 60k runners, waiting for Iain, we had an early picnic and the kids played in the trees. We were all pleased to see Iain, he came past at about 3hrs from his start, he looked strong (if a little hot!). We watched him head off down the path through the trees and headed off down the other track back to Blair Castle. In all we walked a nice little 5 miles route (not recorded on Strava). By the time we got back it was properly hot!
We tidied up a little at the tent and then headed to the finish line to make sure we didn’t miss Iain. Julie wasn’t sure how long he would be so erred on the side of caution. It was really hot by the finish, Julie got a coffee and the kids had plenty of water. Julie then headed back with a couple of the kids to take down the tent and pack the car! It was as easy to take down as it was to put up. We then played some more cards and enjoyed the Red Bull DJ playing at the finish. The first finisher came in after 5hrs 27 min and then another wee wait before 2nd and 3rd places. The runners then continued to trickle in having done an amazing job in the heat. Well done everyone! We then got a space under the Red Bull shelter which gave some relief from the heat. Julie was worried we would miss Iain heading to the finish as the view was blocked! So after a while we headed back to the finish line. The kids were getting a bit restless as Julie didn’t know how long Iain would be, but the kids passed the time with a ball game and then we played guess the finish time! Finally we spotted Iain heading down the final turn round the camping area. Julie nipped to the finish to get the finish line photos and the kids cheered Iain in. We were all super proud of him. His final finish time was 7hr 15min and 20th place. A quick lie in the grass and cool down then we headed back to the car for a drink and snack (and a change for Iain). Finally time to squeeze everyone back into the car for the trip home. An awesome weekend that everyone enjoyed!