My race report of the Dramathon 2018
My race report on the Dramathon 2018. This article also appeared in the Sunday Mail.
The Dramathon 2018
A race that includes two of my big loves, running and whisky, attracted double the number of participants in only its second year.
The Dramathon, which takes place on Speyside in the Scottish Highlands, saw 1500 people competing in three races, the marathon, half marathon and 10k.
The trail running route links together many of Scotland’s famous distilleries, including Glenfarclas Tamdhu, Knockando, Dalmunach, Aberlour and Balvenie and Glenfiddich.
The event, which is nicknamed the Speyside Single Malt Marathon and organised by Durty Events, is the brainchild of two whisky loving runners, Jon Dunderdale and Ian King.
Both are from Scotland and now live in France. They were inspired by Le Marathon du Medoc, which combines wine and a marathon.
However, Jon said: “While Medoc participants drink wine as they run, Dramathon runners will not drink whisky until after the race.
“Instead, runners are treated to a goody bag filled with whisky miniatures at the Dramathon finish line.”
Having completed the “Half Dram” last year, I decided to step up to the Full Dram for 2018.
The Dramathon start
Joining 400 other marathon runners at Glenfarclas Distillery, Ballindalloch, Banffshire, on a sunny Saturday morning in October, I waited nervously for the start of the Dramathon.
I planned to run the first few miles with a friend Bryan, with the aim of staying in my comfort zone.
In the end we ran to the half-way point together, all the while chatting and enjoying the fabulous autumnal scenery.
The Speyside hills and woodlands were ablaze with colour.
To start with the trail was undulating, although the ascents were rarely steep or long-lasting.
Then, the marathon mainly followed a fairly flat route on the old railway line of the Speyside Way.
Bryan and I ran alongside people we knew and caught up with many that we didn’t know.
Kasper Sorensen, from Denmark, had spotted the race in a whisky magazine.
He said: “I love whisky and I’ve been to Scotland many times to visit distilleries. However, I had never run a marathon.
“I like running and I liked the idea of challenging myself to do something different. The whisky is a bonus.”
His friend, Christian Leidgens, from Germany protested that he doesn’t like running.
He said: “I am not a fan of running but I do like new adventures.
“I thought that the Dramathon was an interesting idea and far, far better than running a boring city marathon.”
We kept Kasper and Christian company until almost half-way near Tamdhu distillery.
Half way to the finish
At this point, Bryan’s busy summer of racing saw him drop back for “a breather and a short walk”.
Meanwhile, I felt a sudden burst of energy perhaps thanks to a handful of jelly babies I’d just eaten.
I passed runners who were finding the final stage of the marathon tough.
Yet, I was also overtaken by people who were competing in the marathon relay.
Sharing the course with different races meant that you were rarely alone and this created a friendly atmosphere.
Catching up with another runner, Ailsa Curnow of Orkney Running Club, I asked her how she was doing.
Aisla said: “I’m loving this race. The scenery is so beautiful.”
Then, as suddenly as the energy rush had arrived, it left. I glanced at my sports watch to see I had seven miles still to go.
I tried to imagine what this would look like on one of my training runs.
“Just twice round Milngavie reservoirs and a bit more,” I told myself.
But my leg muscles were tight and my sore knee, which I’d been trying to ignore for about 10 miles, was now very painful.
While my legs were begging me to slow to a walk, my brain kept telling me to run on.
I battled with my mind like this for several more miles and even managed to pass a few runners.
But there were many more that ran past me. By now the speedy 10k runners had joined the race and they flew past, breathing heavily.
I tried to look up to enjoy the widening valley views – and with the hope of spotting the penultimate distillery, Balvenie.
The old railway path seemed to go on forever and by now I was running barely faster than a walk.
Finally, we were guided away from the railway line and through a section of woodland, where I could see the buildings of Balvenie ahead.
I had a tiny burst of energy. Nearly there!
Next came a stretch of pavement, a hill, the yard of Glenfiddich, another corner and another hill.
I could hear cheering and I forced myself to sprint to the finish line.
Trying hard not to be sick I lent on one of the finish line volunteers and took the water she offered. I stood and wobbled for a bit.
I was delighted to have finished only my second ever marathon – and I had my prized goody bag of whisky in my hand.
As I was swept into a crowd of finishers and supporters I caught a few words with co-founder Ian.
He said: “We are so happy with the event today. The sun is shining and we have doubled the field of competitors.
“People seem to be so happy to be running in this event and we are really surprised by how popular it has become.
“We hoped that other runners would like whisky as much as Jon and I do, and it seems they do.”
Dramathon 2018 winners
The winners of the marathon distance were Alan Semple in 2:49:48. The female winner was Shona Young in 3:27:10. Shona competes in the aged group 50 to 59.
I was very surprised to come second in the same age category, although I almost 30 minutes behind Shona.
Alan, of Aberdeen, said: “This race was fantastic. The route was amazing. It was scenic and varied and there was great support out on the course at the start point of the other races.
“It was also very slickly organised.”
Alan, 37, was surprised to win. He said: “I only entered at the last minute as a wee end-of-season blast after a pretty big season.”
Alan’s normal races are Ironman. He said: “I only entered the Dramathon after recovering from Ironman Copenhagen in late august where I believe I was the first Scottish amateur Triathlete to go under nine hours, in 8:52.”
Earlier this year, Alan, who is member of FleetFeet triathlon club, was second at Celtman Extreme Triathlon (CxTri), which is a Ironman-type triathlon, also organised by Paul at Durty Events.
He has also qualified for the inaugural “Xtri World Championships” in Norway next summer at Norseman (NxTri).
Alongside two other Scottish athletes attending the Xtri world championship, Alan has set up the Scottish Xtri Team.
Full results at Durty Events results.
You can register for Dramathon 2019 at www.thedramathon.com.