Pitlochry Running Festival 2018 Review, The 10K that wasn’t

Nothing quite finishes off a short break quite like a wee 10K in a pretty part of the world. After a jaunt to the frozen north to check out the Fort William ParkRun the GinRunners journey back to reality paused for a night in Pitlochry. The Pitlochry Running Festival you say? don’t mind if we do. Specifically we were in town for their nice looking (well, on the screen anyway) 10K.

The night before the race didn’t bode well. First of all our First Aid skills were called into action after a woman was attacked by a yappy wee b*stard dug in the pub. After we headed back to Mabel our slumbers weren’t exactly smoothed by the sound of the rain battering down.

Lots of rain.

Islay quantities of rain.

Fortunately God had emptied his bladder by the morning, and as we headed into town in search of a) toilets and b) Bacon it looked like a nice day was in the offing.

Pitlochry Running Festival 10k Start Line

Let’s do this.

While I took my place at the start line Bex, who was sitting this one out, took a seat in the wee grandstand bit for what would hopefully be a bit less than an hour until I got back. I’d been looking forward to this after REALLY enjoying the Killin 10K so was hoping to get round in a decent time. Under an hour would be great, under 55 minutes would be awesome. I assumed the customary GinRunners position towards the rear of the starting throng and wished I’d squeezed in another trip to the toilet. Active Root is blood good, but I think I was possibly a bit, erm, over hydrated.

But who cares, GinRunning isn’t about times, how we “fuelled” or tagging whoever’s pants we have on in the hope of a sponsorship deal. Love Gin, tolerate running.

And, as an aside, there’s a BRILLIANT wee off license in Pitlochry. Ask them nicely and they’ll break out the gin taster bottles.

But we digress.

A tall person at the Pitlochry Running FestivalHere we go again.

3..2..1.. we’re off !!!

God job I remembered to look tall and gormless for the photo…

The first part of the race is a loop round the sports field where I tried to get into my stride. I took a wide line to avoid the throng, then found out that slippy grass is, well, slippy. Would have been embarrassing to fall over in the first 100m but luckily I managed to stay upright and slow down to a more sensible pace.

We left the sports field and turned onto a biggish and longish hill of the “up” variety where I made reasonably good progress. Call me weird but I don’t really hate this sort of uphill slog, it’s just a case of getting on with the damn things.

By the top of this first climb I’d been in full overtaking mode for about 1K so thought it was time to settle down a bit. I caught up with a chap from the pun-tactic Leven Las Vegas running club and tucked in beside him, complimenting him on the aforementioned pun.

And, for the next 7K we had other wee chats every time he overtook me on the downhill bits before I overtook him again on the next uphill. I think we were both happy enough with this. In all honesty I know I couldn’t have kept up the pace without my new found friend either passing or to be passed.

So Dougie, in the unlikely event you’re reading this, thanks !!

The route headed alongside the main road for a flattish while before becoming all kinds of awesome as it headed into the woods. This is what they mean by “mixed surface”, grass, tarmac, gravelled path and proper trail. The Pitlochry Running Festival had it all.

Into the enchanted forest.

I really enjoyed the run through the woods and before I knew it we were at 7k and somehow, inexplicably, I was still going strong. Well strong by my standards. The loop through the trees was one of the nicest little runs I’ve ever done even with the short, sharp inclines. I was enjoying this and even a steep hill isn’t going to stop me !!!

What did stop me, well stop everyone, was the flight of greasy stairs but I didn’t count that as walking. There was a queue !!!

As it was a pleasant Sunday lunchtime the woods were full of walkers and their pooches. Must be weird to be out for a stroll and suddenly have hundreds of lunatics running towards you. The say hello  to response ratio wasn’t great, the doggies mostly looking happier to see us than their owners.

We left the woods and headed back out alongside the A9 for the return into Pitlochry. By this point Dougie had taken off into the distance but I was still going reasonably well and doing my own podding thing. The Garmin ticked over the 8Km mark and I knew it wasn’t long to go now.

Elastic Measurements

And how right I was, more right than I could have imagined.

The return leg took a slightly shorter route than the outward one, which meant we got to run across a really cool green suspension bridge with some cracking views along the river. At this point I saw my pace-man just getting over the bridge as I was getting onto it and decided to crack up the pace for the last Km to see if I could catch him.

Over the green bridge and we were back onto the sports field. The thing was my watch said we still had 1Km to go. Must have lost the GPS at some point. I picked up the pace as best I could round the loop on the grass and across the line with a sprint finish for no good reason whatsoever. Basically I was just trying to look strong for Bex and her camera while I was actually wanting to have a wee collapse somewhere.

But, amazingly, I’d done it. I’d ran the full distance. Let’s put that in perspective, it was only the third time I’d ever managed to go that far in a one-er!!

The 10K that never was.

The time was MUCH better than I expected too… Pitlochry 10K Actual Distance

Pity the watch didn’t record the full 10K. I thought…

Organised events have measured courses. I thought…

Still, I knew I’d just smashed my PB into tiny, terrified quivering pieces.

Annihilated it.

Destroyed it.

Erm… no.. no I hadn’t.

I thought was just my watch that had gone screwy, but Strava’s “other runners on this race” thing told the true story. The f**king course was 500 meters short.


5% of the total distance.

Sorry, that’s really not good enough. I’m just an old bloke plodding around at the back, I bet the serious athletes were a bit miffed.

No wonder I’d managed a decent time 🙂 Still, didn’t stop it being an absolutely brilliant 9 and a half K. Assuming you’re not a stickler for accuracy I’d recommend giving this one a go next year.

We’ll be there.

Relive ‘Pitlochry. The 10k that wasn’t.’