We asked Bellahouston Road Runner and part time thespian Christopher McKiddie to tell SCOTTISH RUNNING GUIDE about his experience of running the recent Moray Marathon.
On a damp September morning most non-runners would describe as 'miserable', over 700 runners converged on Elgin in what all agreed were 'perfect conditions' for the 28th staging of Scotland's oldest marathon: the Moray Marathon, a race which now also incorporates a half marathon and a 10k road race.
Any residing dour spirits or nerves among the competitors would have been relieved by the warm welcome, which greeted all entrants at the registration in the Elgin Town Hall, as would the complimentary tea, coffee andshortbread provided by the marvellous ladies of the WRVS.
As the half marathon and 10k runners were bused to their starting points (near Gordonstoun school and Lossiemouth respectively), the 160 or so marathon entrants started at 9.30am sharp in the picturesque grounds of Elgin cathedral. In a refreshing light drizzle, the opening two-mile stretch consisted of an admittedly bland, slightly uphill canter through Elgin suburbs before opening out into the flat Moray countryside.
One aggressive combine harvester driver aside, the following pleasant seven-mile section led the runners harmlessly east to the quiet coastal town of Burghead.
Praise must go to the well-drilled, encouraging and friendly volunteers and marshalls who staffed the bewilderingly plentiful water stations (at least one every two miles) and guided the field effortlessly around the varied, now dry,
course as we trudged eastwards to the fishing town of Lossiemouth. During this portion of the race the lead marathon runners began to mingle with the half marathon field, who emerged from nearby Gordonstoun (not in the grounds themselves, sadly, due to a recent outbreak of swine flu).
After passing through the centre of fishing town Lossie', the field had seven miles to endure, a distance characterised by attractive, flat, heavy woodland. Finally, Elgin came into view and tired bodies were glad of a gentle descent back towards the cathedral.
Kudos must also go to the charismatic announcer who endeavoured (sometimes in vain) to declare the name and club of every participant, and whose Robbie Shepherd-style tones provided a friendly and unique soundtrack to our journey's end.
Back at the town hall a tremendous welcome was provided with a squad of sports masseurs offering their much-needed services and the WRVS again providing (free of chage) sandwiches and tea/coffee.
All in all this was a friendly, superbly organised 'festival of running' which I would certainly repeat, and would recommend to any runner keen to avoid huge crowds but still enjoy a sense of camaraderie with like-minded souls running through some of Scotland's finest scenery.
Christopher completed the Moray Marathon in a time of 3:24:46.