“Fun run season” is well and truly underway with this morning marking the first of the annual festive runs and an excuse to wear some daft Christmas accessories!
The last time the RNLI staged their fundraising Reindeer Run at Glamis Castle was back in 2011 and I remember really enjoying the event as it was a lovely day which really showed off the stunning surroundings, so when I heard that the event would once more be taking place at Glamis this year, I was keen to take part again.
My plan had been to wait until after my run last Sunday before signing up, that way I could ensure there was no obvious problem with my calf before committing to another event. Since Sunday went well, I spent some quality time that evening entering one or two races for next year’s challenge (more on that soon!) and entering the Reindeer Run. Unfortunately, some technical issue with their entry system meant that on Monday evening I received an email out of the blue saying that my payment had been inexplicably refunded. Unsure what was happening, I emailed the event organisers and got a really lovely reply apologising for the problems, confirming my entry (with race info attached to the message) and the very trusting promise that the payment could be sorted out at a later date. When I arrived at race registration today, somewhat unsure of my entry status, they did indeed have my name on their list and I simply paid by cash – no problem (and they would have been happy to sort it out later if I hadn’t taken cash with me). It just goes to show that when problems arise it’s how they are dealt with that’s important. This one was dealt with very well and for me, set a positive tone to the event.
The format this year was that the 10K would start at 10:30am, the Santa Saunter for the little ones at 11:45 and the 5K at 11am. The route itself is a 5K loop through the stunning castle grounds, therefore the 10K runners were doing 2 loops.
I had travelled with Kirsteen as we were both running the 5K but knew others who were going for the 10K. We arrived around 10:20 but by the time we registered and nipped to the toilet, the 10K was already underway so we didn’t get a chance to catch up with our friends. An imminent warm-up was being announced so I took a couple of photos while we waited.
As you can see, it was a beautiful, crisp autumnal day but there was a definite chill in the air so aside from my standard winter kit of long tights, base layer and long-sleeved top, it was time to try out the new Ronhill bobble hat I bought on a recent trip to Glasgow and the Gore gloves I won in a Facebook giveaway. I found these gloves to be excellent as they were the right thickness to keep my hands warm without getting too warm (I don’t like really bulky gloves but nor do I like cold hands so for me these ones were just right) and they have material on the fingers to allow the use of a smartphone (I took the photos whilst wearing the gloves). The left glove also features a small zipped pocket suitable for keys. A very pleasing win indeed!
There was a short delay to the warm-up beginning as the gantry began to collapse and staff were sorting it out, however it was obviously crucial to the smooth running of the event that we started on time because as soon as the clock began to chime 11, the warm-up was halted and we were moved to the start line where a countdown began. Before I knew it, we were running.
I knew that the terrain this week would be a little different from last week’s flat 5K around Perth’s North Inch so I set out nice and easy. My pre-race preparations had also included a Metafit class last night so I wasn’t even sure if my legs were going to work! The first mile is mainly on good solid trail (although there were a few slightly squelchier sections!) and we were running uphill fairly quickly. Somehow I had forgotten this hill, although I had remembered that there would be a hill on the main castle drive towards the end of the race. I had neglected to pick up my iPod before I left, but I wasn’t bothered as it was a short distance and the scenery was beautiful. I ran the first mile in 8:58, getting my money’s worth out of that scenery!
One of my favourite parts of the route is the section that leads to a huge fountain which, during this morning’s run, was on. The fountain just seems to suddenly appear before you as you emerge from one trail section, then before you know it you’re crossing a short bridge and rejoining a trail (where Santa himself took time out of his busy schedule to help out and ensure runners were warned to watch their footing!).
By this point, we were starting to catch some of the 10K runners on their second loop and actually caught up with the friends we had missed earlier. We exchanged a few words before emerging back onto concrete road and beginning the steady climb up the main castle driveway. Mile 2 in 9:14 – still enjoying that scenery!
I felt I ran quite strongly up the hill and passed a number of runners, although it was hard to tell if they were 5K or 10K runners as most were wearing the event T-shirt and antlers so everyone looked the same! The turning point in this section came at around the 2.5 mile mark at the castle gates. This was further up the drive than I remembered from last time, but provided a great opportunity to see runners still running up the hill and call encouragement to/high five friends! It also meant that I would get a nice downhill run to the finish and could pick up the pace a bit. I settled into a rhythm and fixed my eyes ahead on the view of the castle at the end of the drive:
The start/finish gantry was around the bend to the left so I just kept my pace up, making sure to save a little something for a sprint finish! Mile 3 in 8:20.
Kirsteen had been right behind or beside me throughout the race and we crossed the line together in around 28:26. My Garnin measured the course a bit long at 3.26 miles, but I’m not really bothered by that since it was a fun run. I was pleased to see that I ran that last quarter mile at 7:14 pace!! Wow!
Santa was once more on hand to pass out medals to the finishing reindeer and there were photographers taking pictures of us all. We waited for our friends in the 10K to finish then moved away from the finish line where we were able to collect a bottle of water, cereal bar, banana (which I declined – I’m not a fan!) and mince pie – my first of this festive season. There was also a tent with hot drinks, sandwiches and chocolate bars in return for donations, but my money was in the car and it felt wrong to take anything without making a donation at a charity event. All this was in addition to the Tshirt, antlers and flashing noses we had been given before the race (but opted to leave in the car as we felt they might be a bit awkward to run with). A pretty good race haul.
Sadly the mince pie didn’t make it into the photo as I greedily gobbled it up straight away!
Since we hadn’t taken photos with our antlers, etc before the race we decided to do this once we headed back to the car, so here we are sporting the crazy festive look most of the runners had this morning:
Someone also got a candid one of me, clearly laughing at my own ridiculous appearance!
We also managed to get a photo of the whole group:
Anyone know the collective noun for a group of reindeer? 🙂
I recognised our photographer, who turned out to be Danielle Sasaki whose running blog, I Eat Therefore I Run, I have been reading recently – go check her out! I hadn’t met Danielle before so it was nice to meet another running blogger and have a bit of a chat about races and blogging. Introducing myself to a complete stranger whilst wearing antlers and a flashing nose may be one of the weirder things I’ve done in my life, but we runners are very accommodating and don’t let little things like that bother us! I enjoyed meeting someone new and having a chat before getting back in the car for the journey home.
I had a great morning at Glamis. Everybody was really friendly, the setting was beautiful and it was a gorgeous morning for a run. There was something for everyone with 2 race distances open to runners, joggers and walkers, and the Santa Saunter for the wee ones (which was actually led by Santa and the RNLI mascot) all in aid of a deserving charity. I hope they return to Scotland again next year.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
“Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”