Aberdeenshire & Angus
Following the success of their first collaboration event earlier this year with Haddo House, North Hop has again teamed up with the National Trust for Scotland, to put on a range of events across Aberdeenshire & Angus this summer. These family friendly events will be taking place during July, August & September, in the hope the sun will make an appearance – although there will be a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces to keep each even running smoothly regardless. Each event has a different theme, with each showcasing an amazing variety of local produce, street food, bars and market traders.
NTS North East Catering & Hospitality Manager David Edgar said “I’m very excited to be working alongside North Hop over the course of this summer and bringing a series of events to the North East. It’s a great opportunity for the public to enjoy the fantastic castles, mansions, gardens and estates we have here, all whilst having the opportunity to experience some great food and drink from around the region.”
David continued “For us it’s been amazing to see the love that is out there for the venues from both members of the public and our amazing suppliers. We are also absolutely delighted to have partnered with Premier Coaches, who will be making the Aberdeenshire venues accessible from Aberdeen, Inverurie, Old Meldrum and Ellon without the need for a car!”
Michelle Russell, North Hop Director said "“Some folk thought we were completely mad setting up these events for this year with only a few months of build up and planning time, but the energy and effort from all involved has really shown it is possible! The unique themes and different vendor and entertainment line ups for these events has really helped them to stand out, and being able to reach out to both North Hop and National Trust for Scotland’s audience has been great too.”
North Hop x House of Dun - Exploring Angus
First up is the North Hop x House of Dun - Exploring Angus event. Taking place on Saturday 27 July 2019 10am to 5pm and Sunday 28 July 2019 10am to 5pm at the historic House of Dun, which gives stunning views out onto the Montrose Basin. Market goers will be able to enjoy amazing local produce and enjoy refreshments from brands such as 71 Brewing & Arbikie all whilst local musicians perform.
This event is both child and dog friendly.
North Hop x Castle Fraser - USA Roots
Next up at the historic setting of Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire is North Hop x Castle Fraser - American Roots. Taking place on Saturday 31st August & Sunday 1st September, 10am to 5pm, the event looks to bring together some awesome American elements with our Scottish roots. Festival goers can expect loads burgers, doughnuts, themed bars and local market traders, all in a family friendly environment.
This event is both child and dog friendly.
North Hop x Haddo House - Doggy Day Out
And finally, taking place on Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th September from 10am to 5pm is North Hop x Haddo House - Doggy Day Out. Returning to the scene of their first collaboration event, North Hop has again teamed up with Haddo House to bring together an event filled with fun for dogs. Your four legged friends will be able to enjoy the doggy bar, treats, pampering products and more. Of course, there will be plenty for the humans to enjoy too with bars, market traders and more tasty street food.
This event is human friendly.
Tickets are available from http://northhop.com/events
Adults £4 + BF advance, £5 at the door, kids under 12 go free, VIP tickets available, small discount for NTS members at the door.
50% of all ticket sales go to National Trust for Scotland to support the great work they do across their properties.
Premier Coaches will be running shuttle buses from/to Aberdeen, Inverurie, Old Meldrum and Ellon for all Aberdeenshire events for only £5 return.
The Basin Rambler (Angus Transport Group) will be running shuttle buses from/to Montrose Train Station for the Angus event.
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More Podcast Goodness For Your Ears
It's a little over a year since I published my first non-beer related article, which listed my favorite podcasts at the time. Since a whole year has passed, and I've listened to countless new podcasts since then, I thought it was time to update this list. So in this post I'm going to run through some of my favorites from the last year
Up And Vanished (Season 2)
In the Dark (S2)
Monster - The Zodiac Killer
Now, for something of a lighter tone, with my non-true crime recommendations.
Complete Load of Podcast
Creative Me Aberdeen
So, that's it for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading, and maybe even found a new podcast to listen to. Do you have any recommendations for me? If so, leave them in the comments below.
I'll try and not leave it so long until my next list of podcasts...
Who decided that running a half marathon less than a week after returning from a two-week all-inclusive holiday in Mexico would be a good idea? Well, me apparently...
Having convinced myself it wouldn't be a problem, I signed myself up for Crathes Half Marathon a couple of months ago, knowing fine well it took place less than a week after my holiday. My first race since Stonehaven Half Marathon, Crathes Half Marathon takes place in and around the grounds of the stunning 16th century Crathes Castle, part of Royal Deeside.
I tried to run once on the treadmill in the hotel gym while I was away (the beach was a no-go) but I HATE RUNNING ON A TREADMILL! So I decided just to chance my luck with one 7.5 mile training run on my return, and then just seeing how it went on the day. I was reasonably confident in my levels of fitness, and everything I read about this race assured me that it wasn't too difficult - I was even secretly hoping I could set a new PB...
Race morning arrived, and by the time I climbed out of bed, the conditions were already looking perfect for running. I started the day with a breakfast of a toasted bagel, with peanut butter and banana along with a coffee as well as starting to get myself hydrated with plenty of water.
I got changed into my kit and before long we were on our way to Crathes. The only real differences to my kit this time out were my now standard running headband (it is a lifesaver!) and I was trying out Clif Bloks energy chews, rather than gels, for the first time after reading about them online (more on them later).
We arrived at Crathes Castle estate at around 10.45am with the race due to start at 12.00pm, so we had plenty of time to spare. After getting parked and making our way to the registration area, I collected my race number (#370), technical t-shirt, and surprisingly a new multi-purpose headband which came in extremely handy. We had a bit of time on our hands, so we spent some time watching the kids 1.5km run, which was good fun - it was great to see so many enthusiastic kids involved.
Before long it was our turn and we are all lined up at the starting line ready to go. The race started with an ever so slight incline up and out the grounds of the castle. The race was pretty congested for the first couple of miles, and it took some time before we could really spread out and get going. These first few miles were reasonably flat, and I started to going at a reasonably decent pace now that we'd opened up - at one point I checked Strava and I was averaging sub 8-minute miles. It was soon time for the first water stop at the 4-mile mark, and I was definitely ready for it, the day had turned out to be far warmer than expected, and my mouth was starting to dry up and I was in desperate need of a drink.
Around the 5 mile mark, we hit the first "off-road" section of the run, and I really didn't enjoy this; the uneven nature of the road, complete with loose rocks made for some really uncomfortable running, along with a couple of nervy moments where I nearly lost my footing completely. I also started to feel some discomfort in my left foot - the blister was back, I knew it. On just about every long distance run I do, I almost always get a blister on the inside bottom of my left foot, now I'm not sure if it's down to my running form, or shoes - but it always seems to come back. I did try to take some preventative action before the run, by pre-applying a blister plaster and some zinc oxide tape, but it didn't seem to work. Anyway, I gritted my teeth, and pushed through it and before long we were finally back on some flat road.
We soon reached another water stop at around the 7-mile mark and the sun was also taking no prisoners at this point, so I took advantage of this by having a much-needed drink and soaking my back in water to cool down. I also had the first of my Clif Blok energy chews and I was certainly impressed with them - they tasted so much better than my usual SIS energy gels, they were easy to chew and swallow and provided a great instant sugar kick along with a dose of caffeine.
There was another off-road section between miles 9-10, and much like the first, I really didn't enjoy this. The loose rocks were causing havoc with the blister on my foot but I pushed through the pain, and before I knew it the 10-mile marker was in sight. Mentally this was a huge boost - knowing there was only 3 miles to go, which equated to around 25 minutes more running, or about 8 more songs on my Spotify playlist. I also took a quick look at Strava and checked my time...a new PB was within grasp.
A few more minutes running followed, and I arrived at the final water stop at the 10.5-mile marker, so I quickly fuelled up with water and one more energy chew and I was on my way to the home stretch. Or so I thought. After the joy of passing the 10-mile mark, and thinking that the end would soon be in sight - there was of course one final sting in the tail. I found myself on a long straight, with the slightest of inclines, but enough of an incline to make it really not enjoyable. It also seemed to go on forever!
Mile 12 eventually arrived and I knew I was nearly there. My legs were feeling rather tired by this point, and I really wasn't able to pick up the pace for the final mile as I'd originally planned - however, I soldiered on! Before I knew it, we were back inside the castle grounds, and the end was actually in sight! I took my headphones out, stepped on the gas and made my way past the cheering crowd towards the finish line - I even managed to spot Kerry in the crowds, ready to catch me finishing on camera. Crossing the finish line was a mixture of joy and relief, I was handed my medal (how good is the medal?!) and I made my way over to the finishers tent where I picked up water, a banana and a Tunnock's Wafer - all of which were consumed within record speed! I found Kerry, where she congratulated me on my efforts before I checked Strava, and confirmed that I had indeed secured a new PB. Yas!
Whilst it wasn't totally accurate at the time, I knew that I'd finished at around 1:53ish - which was around 3 minutes quicker than my previous best. Amazing! I eventually found out that my official time was 1:53:27, officially 2 minutes and 47 seconds faster than my previous PB. We didn't hang around after the finish too long, and before I knew it, I was recovering in a salt bath with a cold beer - bliss!
Overall, I am absolutely delighted with how the run went as a whole. Taking my lack of training over the last three weeks into account and the fact I managed to beat my previous PB by around three minutes - I think I did rather well. It gives me confidence for the next one (any suggestions?) that with the right training behind me, I could potentially shave even more off this time.
As for Crathes Half Marathon as a whole - I think this is a great event. It was extremely well organised, along with a mostly enjoyable route and some awesome scenery, it is definitely a run I'd recommend to seasoned or first time half marathon runners and it's certainly one I'd be interested in running again. As always, thanks to everyone behind organising the event, all the volunteers, the locals who cheered us on and of course Kerry for her support and unrivalled photography skills. I'd also like to thank Compeed for making live-saving blister plasters - they are going to be part of my running kit from this day forward!
As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for your support. Until the next one!
Sun, Sweat & Hills
Following my successful completion of the epic 21 mile run from, BrewDog to BrewDog, I want to start using this blog to start sharing more of my running stories - especially since I'm now hopefully on track to running a full marathon.
For my next run, I was going to attempt the Stonehaven Half Marathon. Everything that I'd read, and heard about Stonehaven Half Marathon had me slightly worried about it; "it's hills for the entire first half"..."up for 8, down for 5"..."one of the hardest half marathons in the UK"...This caused me to slightly delay my entry until I was entirely sure I could handle it. This turned out to be 4 days before the actual run. However, I was feeling good about myself, and feeling good about my running - so pending a total blazing heatwave on the day, I was sure I could get through it.
Race day arrived and by the time I got out my bed around 7.30am, it was already feeling worryingly warm. I made the decision then that I was going to carry water with me in my Camelbak to combat the sun.
I started the day with my usual race morning breakfast of porridge with blueberries and honey with coffee as well as starting to load up on water. The race started at 10.00am, so by the time I was finished breakfast and got all my kit sorted - it was soon time to leave.
We arrived in Stonehaven with roughly 30 mins until race time, which just left me with enough time to cover myself in sun cream, get down to the registration tent to collect my number, get suitably watered and a quick trip to the toilet. Before I knew it, I was queued up at the start line with the other runners listening to the pre-race briefing - and then we were off!
When I was told that this run was hilly...it was no lie, less than a mile into the run and we were already climbing! This continued gradually as we made our way through Stonehaven for the first couple of miles, and by the time we were completely out of the town, the climbing became constant - yikes! Before we'd even got to the 4-mile marker, I felt myself starting to struggle. The heat was certainly playing a huge part in this but my legs were already beginning to feel quite heavy on the hills. It was also starting to get blisteringly hot with temperatures of around 21ºC and little to no clouds in the sky.
I grit my teeth and pushed through it and before I knew it, I heard the faint sound of bagpipes through my headphones. Bingo. I knew from previous reading, that this signalled the end of the constant climbing - at least for now. So when I saw the piper in all his glory at the 4-mile marker, this was a welcome relief. There was a water stop shortly after this point also, so this gave me the chance to significantly cool myself down by emptying cups of water over my head and down my back.
Miles 5 to 7 were slightly less challenging than the previous, with much fewer hills to conquer and I was able to start to regain my pace. There was a shared water stop between miles 5.5/6.5 as we did a nice flat loop and I was briefly joined by a friendly face, which offered me some much-needed encouragement. I took advantage of this stop by having a drink and again soaking myself on both passes. Little did I know, that this water stop was a prelude to the dreaded mile 8...
"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti..."
Mile 8, or as I quickly renamed it in my head - the mile from hell. Now, I don't know for sure if this hill was as particularly challenging as I found it to be, or if it was just such a shock to my legs after enjoying a good spell of reasonably flat running. But whatever the reason, I really struggled with it. I struggled so much, that I probably walked the majority of this mile. But, I just got on with it and plodded away until I finally I was back on flat ground.
From here - it became a completely different race. Miles 9, 10 & 11 resulted in my best running of the day to the point where I was running sub 8-minute miles (7:32 at one point!). Obviously running downhill played a huge part in this, but it felt like such a relief to be no longer struggling uphill and I was really able to kick it up a gear and started to massively enjoy it. I was also finally able to appreciate the awesome scenery we were running in, as I was able to concentrate on something other than making it to the top of the next hill.
Before I knew it we were back in the town, however, by the time I reached the mile 11 marker I had hit a wall - I was really starting to struggle again. Although we were basically running on flat/downhill for the final couple of miles through Stonehaven, I was struggling to find the energy to get me through the final miles. Following a couple of pauses, lots of encouragement and high fives from the crowds, I was able to pull myself together and power through it! I was totally gutted by this though, as I had just come off the back of some great running and this had more than likely just added 3/4 minutes on to my finishing time.
Finally, I found myself making my way down the Slug Road, past Mackie Academy towards Minerallwell Park. Thankfully, as I came down and out through the trees my supporters were there waiting for me to cheer me on, and this gave me the much-needed boost to kick on for the final few hundred meters and cross the finish line.
It's safe to say that it was a bit of a mixture of emotions when I finally crossed the finish line; relief that I no longer had to run anymore and the sheer joy and elation of knowing that I'd made it to the end. People often ask me why I enjoy running, and I quite often find it hard to come up with an adequate response, but I think this run has finally made it a bit easier to answer. No matter how much I struggle and how heavy and hurting my legs are, that is completely outweighed by the elation of crossing the finishing line with your supporters cheering you on - and finally, getting that medal around your neck. It really makes it all worth it.
Overall, I'm fairly satisfied with my finishing time considering the conditions - I'm just kicking myself that I couldn't keep up the pace for the final 2 miles as it would have made a huge difference to my time. I guess in hindsight I should have maybe done a little extra homework on the route, and crammed in some extra hill training in preparation. But I'm glad I did it because if I want to keep challenging and pushing myself more with my running, then this is the type of races I need to do.
A huge thank you to my supporters for coming out and enduring the sun to cheer me on, it really made a huge difference. A massive thank you also to the organisers for putting on such a great event and of course, thank you to all the volunteers on the day - events like this wouldn't be possible without these people (the food at the end was a particularly welcome surprise).
It's time for a well earned few days rest from running (I'm not quite at the level where I can just get up and go the next day yet) while I plan my next run. I'm not signed up for anything else yet, but considering the Metro Dyce half marathon in August and the Crathes half marathon in September. Any suggestions?
Beer & Running - What's Not to Like?
As much as I love beer, I also love running. So when the chance arose to combine the two into one event - the BrewDog Summer Run 2018, it was one I couldn't pass up.
For those who are unaware of it, the BrewDog Run has been a yearly event since December 2015 and is now in it's sixth occurrence. Organised by Aberdeen running group The Fit Like Joggers, the BrewDog Run is a 21 mile run that begins at BrewDog Castlegate and ends at DogTap in Ellon.
Those of you who know me will know that I'm a keen runner, and have now completed a few half marathons and one 15 mile run earlier this year. But a 21 mile run seemed like quite a daunting task, especially in the height of summer. Thankfully though, this isn't classed as a "race", and more of a social fun run. Participants run in groups, at a slower pace where conversation is encouraged with an estimated finishing time of 3-1/2 - 4 hours.
We had to meet at BrewDog Castlegate at 10.00am on Saturday (09/06/18) to drop off any bags, get watered and for our pre-run briefing - I was slightly astonished at this point to see the number of people with pints in their hands before the run! Not feeling that brave, I decided to stick to water at this point. Thankfully the running Gods were kind enough to bless us with clouds! Whilst it was still quite warm, there was no sign of the sun in the sky - which was a welcome sight.
After a pre-run team photo, we set off through town, making our way past Mounthooly roundabout, along Great Northern Road, Auchmill Road in the direction of Dyce. This initial leg of the run slightly eased any pre-run worries I was having; we were taking it at a nice slow pace due to running through town, and I also quickly got talking to a couple of other runners who were very friendly and certainly made it more enjoyable.
After 6.3 miles, we arrived at the Spider's Web in Dyce. This gave us a chance to regroup and grab a quick refreshment. Again - I was shocked to see people indulging in more beer at this point! I always knew there was a beer stop at 10 miles - which I was even sceptical about to begin with, but after seeing all these seasoned runners enjoying a beer (or two) by this point...I would definitely be indulging at the beer stop.
After another group photo, and some light heckling and jeers from a group of football fans, we then made our way down towards the station and out on to the old railway line on the next leg of our run.
This was my first time out running on the old railway line, and what a difference it was to running through the city. It was a relief to no longer be dodging pedestrians, lampposts and stopping at traffic lights. This, in turn, allowed us to pick up the pace slightly and press on towards the beer stop. David (Scott, one of the main organisers of the event) was really helpful throughout the run - often slowing his pace down to check on other runners, taking the time to run alongside them for a bit, and even offering out his drinks.
At around the 10 mile mark, just outside Newmachar, the "refreshment" point was a welcome sight. Stocked with Elvis Juice, Punk IPA, water, chocolate & Haribo - not to forget the music, this was exactly what we needed at this point in the run! The beer went down a treat, the music made for a great atmosphere and gave everyone the chance to catch up and take a well-earned rest.
After we were all suitably refreshed, we set off on the final leg of the run - only 11 miles to go! We continued along the old railway line at a decent pace, and after a few miles I'd dropped off slightly from my original running partners - but thankfully I found others who were just as friendly to run with for a few more miles.
Unfortunately for me, my feet had other ideas and they started to really hurt at around the 16 mile mark. This caused me to slow down significantly, to the point of having to alternate between running and walking for a while. This also, unfortunately, left me running on my own; somewhere between the groups at the front, and the groups further behind - this turned out to be quite mentally draining, as well as physically.
Despite the setbacks, I managed to pull myself through it, and after a brief diversion (I got lost...Google Maps to the rescue!) in Ellon, I made it to DogTap. Seeing the brewery in the distance as I made my way along the final stretch was a glorious sight! Greeted with congratulations and smiles, I was handed my medal & goody bag, which contained a rather awesome finishers t-shirt - I headed inside to enjoy some of the macaroni that was provided by DogTap, and then freshen myself up. We were then ready to enjoy some much-needed beer(s) in the sun - which had thankfully decided to appear at just the right time! After a few beers and some chatting, a few of us made our way to the park & ride and got on the bus back to Aberdeen...
As a personal highlight for me, not only was it an extremely enjoyable run overall, but it was also the furthest distance I've ever run - so I did feel a great sense of achievement when I reached the end. It's great to keep pushing myself to go further, and maybe soon I'll tackle the last five miles and get a marathon under my belt...
I'd like to end by saying thanks to David Scott and everyone behind the scenes involved in organising the event and helping out on the day. I had a great day, met some friendly people, and as challenging as I found the final few miles - I think it is definitely my most enjoyable run to date. Also, a massive well done to those of you who went out running the next day - especially those mad enough to run a marathon, it is inspiring to see!
Hopefully this event continues to grow, and it's safe to say I'm looking forward to the next one already.
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