Andy Bentley's Account of the Race the Train Event 

Runners from all over Scotland made the journey to take part, and I spotted some familiar faces from Forres Harriers, Moray RR, and Keith Jog Scotland. Considering this was billed as an 8km fun run, there were some seriously fast runners taking part, with the first finisher crossing the line in just over 26 minutes! Enjoying a personal race with Stirling Tri Club’s Malcolm Finlayson I was pacing myself for 8km so was surprised to hear the music of the finish area, just after the 7km mark. I managed a burst of speed for the last few hundred meters, finishing the 7.4km in 7th place and exactly 30 minutes. I had no idea if I’d beaten the train until around 3 minutes later when I heard the distinctive whistle and saw the puffs of smoke sail by.

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Congratulations to Samantha Dowdall, Spey Runners' club entrant to the 2017 London Marathon.

The start for us runners was at the Boat of Garten community hall, just a short walk from the train station, where we had a last chance to use the facilities before a mass warm up, then being ushered in to the starting pen. The wait at the start line seemed to go on for an age (we heard later that the train had been delayed leaving Broomhill) but eventually we were off, across the fields and straight on to the well kept tracks of the Speyside Way.

Registration (and the finish area) was located at Route 7 café on the Dalfaber industrial estate. Registration was slick, with minimal queues and excellent on site facilities. Getting there early ensured plenty of time to sample some great food at Route 7 café, and some energy boosting fudge courtesy of the Kilted Fudge Company.

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Overall this is a superb race. The trails are perfect for racing, and scenery is second to non. This was the first year that DSUK had taken over organization of the race and they did an amazing job. The finish area offered a great atmosphere and excellent facilities (toilets, hot food and drinks, music, FUDGE). Add to this a train ride for the kid inside us all, and a top quality piece of bling for all the finishers, then you really can’t ask for more for your money!

Spey Runners at the Elgin Rotary Marafun 2017

Saturday 3rd of June brought round a fantastic event, DSUK “Race The Train”. Hosted by Disability Snowsports UK and Cairngorm Runners, this novel trail run took place on a section of the Speyside Way between Aviemore and Boat of Garten. For much of the route it runs alongside the old Strathspey railway line, and the idea is simple… beat the train to the finish line.

The only downside was the amount of people who didn’t manage to beat the train. In fairness DSUK never stated how long the train would take to reach Aviemore (it’s outside of their control). Sometimes it takes 30 minutes, other times 50. They did indicate the race would start at 11:20, and the regular train timetable showed the train arriving in Aviemore at 12:08. Some folk therefore assumed a run time under 48 minutes should be enough to cross the line ahead of the train, but this wasn’t the case. I heard lots of people comment on how their spirits dipped when the train raced by them much earlier than expected. In fact, only the top 20(ish) runners finished ahead of the train. As this is a fun run, and in aid of charity, I’d like to have seen more people achieve their goal. I guess they’ll just have to give it another go next year. I know I’ll be going back, and hopefully completing the Strathspey Triple Challenge – Aviemore Parkrun, Race The Train, and Grantown 10k we’re all held on the same day.

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Runners could then catch a free shuttle bus (or make their own way) to Aviemore train station where we would board our ride to Boat of Garten. Not many races include a free ride through such stunning scenery, on board a vintage steam train. After dropping off the runners, the train would continue to the last stop on the line (Broomhill) then turn for its journey back to Aviemore. It’s at this point the race was scheduled to start.