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Mzungo Maniacs Run The Dee!

About a year, one of our good running friends, Rod, suggested, wouldn't it be a good idea to run the length of the River Dee.  From some initial discussions during our runs together, it then started to become a bit of a passion to get this organised and become the number 1 challenge for the year.

With a bit of a major birthday this year, the plan was hatched to do the run to mark the occasion along with raising some money for the GathimbaEdwardsFoundation, a charity founded by our friend and fantastic runner, Myles Edwards, and which does some great things for under privileged children in Kenya. Please take a minute to have a look at the website and read about what the charity does. We've set up a fundraising page as there's so many children which GEF are currently unable to help due to lack of resources. Please visit our Total Giving page MzungoManiacsRunScotland and we would be extremely grateful if you are able to help out in anyway with a donation.

On the 1st July, myself, Sarah Simpson and Rod Wallace (well, it was his idea) will run the entire length of the River Dee, starting from it's source on the top of the UK's 3rd highest mountain, Braeriach, back to it's mouth in Aberdeen at Footdee. Total distance is 145km, and we'll attempt to do it within 24 hours.

The Route

The River Dee

Starting high in the Cairngorm mountains from a snow reservoir at the summit of Braeriach (1296m), the UK's 3rd highest mountain. This is the highest source of any river in the British Isles. Emerging in the Wells of Dee at the summit, the Dee then starts it's journey across the plateau of Braeriach, heading over the cliff edge, creating the Falls of Dee, as it plunges downwards towards the Lairig Ghru. From there, it is joined by a a tributary from the Pools of Dee, and then southwards, through the Lairg Ghru, between Ben Macdui and Cairn Toul.


Braeriach and the Falls of Dee

 

As it makes it's way down through the Lairig Ghru, over the Chest of Dee falls, it then converges with the Geldie Burn and the White Bridge, turning eastwards towards Linn of Dee. The Linn of Dee is a 300m natural rock gorge, a spot much favoured by Queen Victory. The bridge crossing the Dee here was built in 1857.

The Linn Of Dee

Between Linn of Dee and Braemar, the Lui Water (formed by the Luibeg and Derry burns) and the Quioch Water join the growing River Dee. The River Clunie enters the Dee at Braemar as it then flows through the Balmoral Estate, past the castle. At Ballater, the river is joined by another couple of tributaries, the River Gairn and River Muick. The Falls of Feugh then join the Dee at Banchory.

The river has it's tidal limit at just above the Bridge of Dee, a bridge which was built in 1720.

We'll finish the run at Footdee, where the river finally meets the North Sea.

 

  • Andrew Gordon

Shoe Review - Scott Supertrac RC

We asked local Deeside Runners and Scottish International hill runner, James Espie, to put the Scott Supertrac RC off road shoe through it's paces. So, he took them up to the Cairngorms and did just that. Many thanks to James for taking the time to do this and for his honest assessment.

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Specification:

  • Weight: 250g / shoe.
  • Heel Stack: 22mm
  • Drop: 5mm.
  • RRP: £125.00
  • Test miles: 52

 

And that folks is where the boring statistics end. There are dozens of reviews online about this shoe but most of them use phrases such as ‘optimally cushioned’ or ‘sleek and agile design’. These phrases don’t do much to explain how it gets on crashing through heather or ploughing through peat bogs. I’ll keep things a bit more down to earth, literally.

As my first pair of SCOTT's I tried them on in The Running Shop and was very pleased with the ‘standard’ sized toe-box. None of this cramming your feet into a ‘precision fit’ shoe which is simultaneously too narrow and too long! 8.5 fits as expected, that’ll do, to the hills!

Morven was a sure way to test the Supertracs straight out of the box. For those of you that haven’t run it, Morven offers probably the best meters to miles ratio on Deeside. Scattered with peat bogs, heathery trods, rocky ascents and a blisteringly fast technical descent, it is more than a match for the best of shoes. On this occasion the hill was dry, perhaps a little less extreme than I’d hoped but none the less, I was delighted with the grip available. Grass, rock, heather, peat bogs (I’ll always find some), the Supertrac gripped. Up, down, sideways, all at once, I was very impressed. Low enough to provide excellent stability, whilst suitable cushioned to prevent bruised feet from loose stones on the 4x4 track- more on that later.

The upper feels tough, much tougher than the crepe paper favoured by some of its rivals. This was evident on the hill, no stubbed toes or bruised metatarsals, only a little water and few heather preenics made it into the shoe.

Longer runs? I took to the Lochnagar 4 Munro route, 2½hrs & 18miles.

With some trepidation I set off up the Ladder, would that tough, robust upper be breathable enough for a hot morning in the hills? Would I discover a hither-to unrecognised flaw in them to spoil the honeymoon period I was enjoying?

No, is the short answer. The further I ran the more convinced I became that I’d discovered an excellent all-rounder. Light enough to scamper up the rocky climb.

No end of grip across the wet Mounth plateau, and that crucial low heel stack & drop to provide stability over the soft running onto Broad Cairn. From here the real test began, 6 miles of hard, rocky trail to poke holes in the cushioning (and my feet). Not today, the fabled ‘optimal cushioning’ did the trick. The soles of my feet did not suffer the usual abuse from what seems like every sharp stone on Balmoral, down the steep gravely zig-zag I had no worries of skating sideways. Reaching the visitors centre, my feet were hot but not excessively. So, less breathable than some, but after another heathery route (18miles from Ballater to Glen Tanar) I’d say the robust upper durability v’s breathability trade-off is worth it.

Now £125.00 is a lot of money for a pair of shoes. Scott have priced the Supertrac to match the top end Inov-8 and Salomon models, which is a bold move for the new shoe on the shelf! Having sampled (I say sampled, I mean trashed,) a wide cross section of their competitors though I’d say they are justified in the price tag. Remember, club runners will get 10% off at The Running Shop too.

This is not an out and out lightweight, short race shoe, neither is it a simple trail shoe for Saturday canters around your local woodland trails. The Supertrac rc will fit either bill but really it deserves something more. It deserves to leave the paths behind, to bash through a few miles of heather, skip across a boulder field, plough through all the peat bogs you can find. When you’ve finished having fun and have 5 miles of gravel track to negotiate home your feet will thank you for choosing the Supertracs.

Will I be racing in them? Yes.  Would I buy another pair? Absolutely. Does the designer at Scott deserve a bonus? Undoubtedly.

The Scott moto for this shoe is ‘Power is nothing without Traction’, The Supertrac rc has the traction. You can bring all the power you like, it’ll grip.

Get down to George St and try a different brand, you may well be surprised.

  • Andrew Gordon

Rebel PT Prams in the Park

The Rebel PT Prams in the Park sessions have been running for just over 4 years now and the Rebel mums training sessions happen Monday to Friday in Hazlehead Park, Duthie Park and Banchory. The Prams mums are a pretty incredible bunch and take part in running races, mud-obstacle races and various other team events; of course play dates and coffee and cake are fairly standard after training too!

 

What often goes unseen is that the majority of the training and running these mums do is with a buggy and /or toddler in tow! This definitely requires a bit of forward planning for a running route to ensure it is buggy-friendly… The Rebel PT Prams in the Park trainers, Eilidh and Lynne spoke to to the pram mums and put together their top 5 buggy-friendly running routes in Aberdeen City and Shire.

 

Here’s the list (in no particular order):

 

Hazlehead Park: There are plenty of trails in and around Hazlehead Park, a lot are accessible with a non-running buggy, however for the rough(er) tracks a run buggy is recommended. Car parking is free and there is a great cafe for post-run debrief coffee (and cake)! Hazlehead Park is also great for all levels of runners and easy to adapt to any distances.

 

Railway line: This is accessible to all with or without running buggies. You can join the railway line at any stage, but we tend to park at Duthie Park (close to the coffee shop of course), this route is also a nice way to try out running with a buggy if you are considering it but not quite ready to commit to the purchase of the full run buggy. The route is the ‘“there and back” kind, which may seem entirely flat but be aware of that slight incline when running West… it does make for a lovely run back to the car though!

 

 

Aberdeen beach promenade: This is another great route for starting out, though watch out for that wind... it definitely adds another level of resistance!! Aberdeen beach is easy to get to, has plenty of (free) parking and a number of post run cafe options. The route is suitable for all buggy types and is a flat “there and back” route that can be adapted to different distances

 

Countesswells Forest: The forest has a number of beautiful run routes, which you can vary in distance. There are a number of hills on most of the routes, but nothing the prams mums can’t handle... These runs are best suited for a run buggy, there is a car park charge and although there are no cafes next to it it’s a great place for a thermos of coffee and a picnic afterwards!

 

 

Kirkhill Forest: This is a tougher forest route, so maybe one to build up to if you are relatively new to running and the 5k route is not suitable for running with a buggy. It is an adventurous 10k route,  a run buggy is definitely required and we would suggest doing it with a friend also!

 

Of course, this list is not comprehensive and just focuses on the top 5 as tried and tested by the Rebel PT mums! Get in touch with any questions or if you have recommendations of other buggy-friendly running routes in and around Aberdeen. #RebelLife #PramsinthePark
  • Andrew Gordon

The SKrunces are coming!

Hard to believe, but the SKrunce races up at Tyrebagger will be back soon. They happen on the 1st Tuesday of the month, with the first one happening on 3rd April.

With 2 loops, four miles and 740ft of elevation it's a perfect introduction to hill/trail racing if you're thinking of taking the plunge and going off road.

 

KRUNCE, son of Trunce

(by Ewen Rennie)

5th June 2007 will see the 100th running of the Krunce. Krunce like Trunce will be familiar titles to the more assiduous readers of the FRA magazine but what are they all about? 

The Trunce series in South Yorkshire goes back to at least the late 1970’s. Every third Monday night over the summer there is a Trunce starting from the pub in the village of Oxspring near Penistone. In its heyday over two hundred runners would tackle a course of about four miles aiming to beat their personal best. 

The Trunce course starts along a farm track before a river crossing (stepping stones available for the faint hearted - through the ford, splashing the timid for the rest), then a bit of tarmac before back across the river on a bridge! and up through a quarry. Then it's back down to the river for another set of stepping stones and back along the road to the original stepping stones and farm track to the finish. The scoring system for the series is based around your race position with bonus points for beating your previous best. 

In 1989 when I returned to my home town of Aberdeen I looked to introduce to some of the best bits of Yorkshire running. Large in this figured a plan for a Trunce type series. It took a while to scout out possible venues but finally in Kingshill Wood I found a viable route. No river but some hills and lots of off-road running. So was born Krunce, son of Trunce. 

I liked the idea of scoring points over a series but wanted to open it up to all so went for a system based on personal improvement rather than at least partly on position. The original scoring system was based on seconds improvement (or deficit) on season’s best. Realising that’s it’s easier to improve by ten seconds when you’re running 35 minutes rather than 25 minutes the use of an Excel spreadsheet allowed the introduction of the idea of percentage improvement. 

The initial format awarded most points to the person with the best percentage improvement on their previous best for the season. This meant that there were five possible scoring races. But there were time bandits who deliberately went slowly on the first race. Their lack of pace judgement meant that they had a ridiculous improvement on the second race but they scooped the maximum points. Another problem was fluctuations in the number of runners so the poorest performer might get 50 points or only 30 depending on the number of runners. 

The beauty of this format in offering incentives to all is that nine of the previous fifteen series have been won by a runner who generally finishes in the bottom half of the field. Mind you a certain maths teacher has won on five occasions. Alastair Leiper has won the series five times, the first three while finishing in the top half of the field, the last two as a back marker. Baring injury Alastair will complete his 100th Krunce at the 100th Krunce – an incredible record of consistency and avoiding serious injury. 

The latest format uses the percentage improvement idea but allocates points to percentage ranges with 9 points for 104% plus, 8 points for 103-4%, 7 points for 102-3% etc. There is also the possibility of adjusting the scoring ranges if most people run faster or slower than usual. 

Trail Shoes

What we would recommend though is a good quality pair of trail shoes. There are loads of different types and we can help point you in the direction of what would suit you the best.  There are a lot of different factors to take in to consideration. Type of terrain you'd be running on, distances, cushioning levels, what level of grip you'd need.  For example, you might be looking for something ultra aggressive in terms of grip, so the La Sportive Mutant might be a good option. If comfort is your main thing, then possibly the high end cushioning of Hoka might be for you. If it's an out and out hill/skyline racing shoe, then perhaps the Scott Supertrac RC would be suitable. 

 

Running Form. Does it matter?

A blog on the Aberdeen Running School's running technique improvement sessions which Andrew of the Running Shop is currently going through. Read about how he's got on and of any changes which he's experienced.
  • Andrew Gordon