VisitAberdeenshire takes on the Great Aberdeen Run - Our Training Diary

Some of the members of the VisitAberdeenshire team are taking on the challenge of the Great Aberdeen Run, taking place on August 27th 2017.

Follow our training diary where we take you through our favourite running spots in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and our training highs and lows! We are telling our story in the lead up to the event.  Be inspired to sign up yourself or join in on the conversation on social media using #greatAberdeenrun.

14 - The Big Day!!

This is it the morning of the Great Aberdeen Run! the VisitAberdeenshire team are ready.

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For those competing in the 10K we will see you at the warm up at 8.50am this morning and if you're braving the half marathon we will see you later at 10.20am.

The team here have enjoyed taking on the challenge of training for the run, enjoying many views across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire along the way. We hope that today you enjoy the race and take in some views too whether that's at Aberdeen Beach Esplanade, Marischal College, Old Aberdeen or the architecture of Union Street. You can download the official Great Run app and track your progress here: 

Check out the full route here:

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Make the most of your trip to Aberdeen today and consider some of these great places to eat once you've made it over that finish line! The hashtag for the event is #greatAberdeenrun and we can't wait to see all the pictures you share with us throughout the day! Good luck everyone! 

13 - Team O'Donnell's Family Run

One of Team O'Donnell's 2017 resolutions was to get outdoors more and be active together. Imagine the excitement then when the Great Aberdeen Family Run came along and ticked those boxes.

Four and five year olds signed up? Check.
Race numbers arrived? Check.
New trainers purchased? Check.
Training underway? Check(ish.....).

Training has, admittedly, been more ad hoc than planned and honed. Some in Aviemore, some in Duthie Park, and a little bit in Aberdeen's beautiful West End.

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None-the-less, we will take our place with the other families at the starting line on Union Street. At the blow of the whistle, our children and their accompanying adults will speed off like gazelles up Back Wynd. Reaching Schoolhill, we look straight ahead to Aberdeen Art Gallery, the reopening of which we are eagerly anticipating. A quick glance to the right and you will see Marischal College, or “the Fairy Castle” as our daughter named it in awe when she saw it for the first time. Our route takes us left, past Belmont Street. On the 27th we will only be able to glance fondly down this street, but it is a firm weekend favourite with us: with The Belmont Cinema Juniors feature and cake at Books and Beans being the perfect family experience.

Powering up the Viaduct we will pass two more favourites on our right, His Majesty's Theatre and the Central Library. Each time we have visited HMT, whether it's for Panto or to see the latest touring adaptation of a Julia Donaldson book, it always provides an air of plush, gilded excitement - a magical sense of occasion.  Central Library Children's Department provides an oasis in the city centre, a space where children and families can explore the magical worlds available. On the left is Union Terrace Gardens, one of the city's many vibrant green spaces. In recent years we have attended Spectra and Street Art Festivals here, wonderful community events for residents and visitors alike.

Soon we will turn left onto Skene Street and then Summer Street. There are fewer attractions here, but great family food choices including Nargile's and Rusticos. There won't be any time to stop on route but perhaps a celebratory meal afterwards? A few streets west of Summer Street will find you in Thistle Street and Rose Street, foodie heaven and several independent clothing and gift retailers. The monthly Thistle Street food market, featuring many food and drink producers from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, is definitely one for the diary. Then, it's our final left turn back onto Union Street and we will be on the home straight. As we streak towards the Finish Line, we will pass another of Aberdeen's top cultural venues, the Music Hall. As a family we have enjoyed a whole host of events here, from art exhibitions to Christmas musical showcases to Funbox concerts, and we look forward to doing so again when it reopens.

Medal ceremony and lap of honour completed, the post-event buzz will provide a good time to reflect, both on the run and the city itself. The Great Aberdeen Family Run route showcases some of the city's finest attractions and venues for family events. It offers the perfect components for a family break. My own family will be reminded of this as we zoom around the route, and I imagine the only utterings of "Are we nearly there yet?" will be from yours truly.

12 - Nikki's Stonehaven Run

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So after my wobble last month I’ve really knuckled down with my training. I’ve religiously stuck to my short/medium/long plan and am now at 9 miles! Eeek!

My mid-week training run took me out of the city and into south Aberdeenshire to the coastal town of Stonehaven. Home to one of the region’s most notable attractions – Dunnottar Castle, the town is a firm favourite with tourists and locals alike. It is easily accessible by car, bus and train and not to mention home to some fantastic fish and chips! I started my run at the Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool, running along the foot path beside the sandy beach and the picturesque harbour before heading down John Street. From there I headed down Albert Lane and joined the Coastal Tourist Route via a path off Cowgate. The path was quite steep and I was very glad to reach the top!

When the Stonehaven War Memorial came into view I turned left off along the footpath towards Dunnottar Castle, the views running past the War Memorial are breath-taking and they continued to impress as, sat on the top of a craggy cliff-edge, the famous ruins dominated the horizon. I wasn’t the only person out that evening – the sun was out and so were many local dog walkers, photographers, groups of friends, couples and families enjoying the views. I completed my run, of 5 miles via the Coastal Tourist Route, down Dunnottar Avenue and back to my starting point.

Stonehaven is also home to the famous fireballs event. If you’re thinking about getting away for New Year why not consider a winter break and celebrate Hogmanay in Stonehaven.

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11 - Stevie's Collieston Run

My Simply Health Great Aberdeen race number has arrived, and it’s now just a matter of weeks until the big race day. Talk in the VisitAberdeenshire office has gone from simply making it round the route, to setting a new personal best time. Things are getting serious.

In light of the competitive office rivalry, it is time to step up the training. This time my run took me along the coastline from Newburgh to Collieston. The narrow path meandered its way to the cliff edge where it follows the coastline to the small seaside town. It was at this point that I realised, at six foot two, I’m not very aerodynamic, and the north-sea wind blowing in across the sea would add an extra challenge to the route. Thankfully, there was plenty of scenery and wildlife to keep me distracted.

A quick picture from the top of the bay in Collieston and then a return run back to the carpark with a shoe-full of sand. It had been a challenging training day, with the sand dunes providing a tough hill training session, which I’m hoping will pay off come race day.

I would however urge you not to run this route. Instead, you should saviour the majestic rolling sand dunes which stretch as far as the eye can see, and the panoramic views across the ocean to your right. It’s views like this that probably led National Geographic to say that Aberdeenshire is home to ‘one of the world’s outstanding coastlines’. Slow down and savour it.      

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10 - David's Macduff to Whitehills run

With the Great Aberdeen Run less than 6 weeks away it is starting to feel real and that in that time I will have to run a half marathon!  I am trying to up my mileage on training runs so that on the big day I will comfortably get around the half marathon route.

My recent ‘long’ run was 8.5 miles between Macduff on the north coast of Aberdeenshire and Whitehills.  I started my run with a stunning view (see below) looking from Macduff Parish Church across the bay to Banff and beyond to Whitehills in the distance which would be the half way point on this out and back run.

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From Macduff, I followed the pavement around Banff Bay from Macduff and across the Deveron Bridge which was completed in 1779 and is a seven arched bridge. The views from the bridge out to sea are breath taking, especially at high tide, and the views inland up the River Deveron towards the Duff House Royal Golf Club and Duff House itself are equally as impressive. Duff House, a grand mansion, was built in 1740 by William Adam.  It is now home to a permanent collection of art from the National Galleries of Scotland. 

From the bridge I continued onward along the coast path by the newly refurbished Spotty Bag Shop and along to Banff Marina.  There are 4 piers at Banff Marina which I always run along as it adds a mile onto my run with one being cobbled and the outermost has a small incline at the end with a small lighthouse beacon.

From Banff Marina it is onward along the coast through the small seaside hamlet of Scotstown, running alongside the embankment of the former Great North of Scotland Railway where the branch line terminated at Banff Station. You can walk or in my case run along this embankment to Banff Links. Home of Banff Links Caravan Park and a beautiful sandy beach and great play park for children this is a lovely stretch of the coast.  Following the caravan park it is a final mile on round the coast path to Whitehills.

This is one of my favourite places to run as it is flat but most importantly by the sea which amazing views which keep you running when naughty thoughts of walking for a bit start to creep in. I intend to use this route and add on extra miles to do my ‘practice’ longer runs in advance of the Great Aberdeen Run itself.

9 - Stevie's Old Aberdeen run

It turns out that taking a selfie whilst running is more difficult than it looks. I came to this conclusion as I jogged through Old Aberdeen past King’s College, and tried to take a selfie with the 15th century chapel in the background. Not only is this multi-action task difficult to coordinate, but as I found out, you also look like a complete wally. Thankfully, come race day we’re not going to have time to take pictures, as waves of runners in their thousands pound the cobbled High Street of Old Aberdeen.

Top runners will complete the 10k route in around 30 minutes, (I’m aiming for an hour), but as you pass through Old Aberdeen, you find yourself slowing to look around, from St Machar’s Cathedral to the Powis Gates, few road races have such spectacular backdrops. Speaking of times and speed, things haven’t exactly gone to plan in the training schedule. 

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If I’m honest, I’m not at the speed I was planning to be at. This is largely thanks to celebrating a ‘significant’ birthday which opened the floodgates to an excess of birthday cake, wine and indulgence in a number of delicious local restaurants. I sense however that being behind schedule is a common theme for runners, and as it’s now only a matter of weeks until we line up on the start line on Union Street on the 27 August, the realisation that the race isn’t that far away is enough to focus the mind and step up the training.

Even if you aren’t doing the Great Aberdeen Run, I would urge you to don a pair of comfy trainers and go and explore Old Aberdeen, there’s loads to see, just don’t take any selfies. Plan your Old Aberdeen visit here. 

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8 - Nikki's Burn O' Vat run

I’m not going to lie – I’m very behind in my training! Life has just been getting in the way lately :) So much so I had even thought about not doing the half marathon but signing up for the 10k instead. However, I gave myself a bit of a team talk and have amended my training plan and am going to go ahead with the half marathon after all.

So at the weekend I decided to try somewhere new for a run – the Burn O’ Vat at Muir of Dinnet’s National Nature Reserve. There are 4 main trails – Vat, Parkin’s Moss, Little Ord and Loch Kinord, and they range from 1.3km to 6km so depending on how far you plan to run there’s a route with a distance to suit you. Or you could do what I did, and do a couple. I went along the Vat Trail and the Little Ord Trail so this added up to 5.3km. 

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I mentioned before that I normally run along Aberdeen Beach so this was quite different for me! There is quite mixed terrain – most of which was fine for running. However there was a small part of the Little Ord Trail that is not really suitable so I used this as an excuse to have a wee walking break and take in some of the scenery around Loch Kinord. I even spotted a gaggle of very noisy geese and a few fishermen along the way! 

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There are some really amazing National Nature Reserve’s in this part of Scotland. Forvie with its shifting sands and half buried church remains. St Cyrus with its inland cliffs and sand dunes. And not to mention Glen Tanar which sits on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, with its classic Caledonian pine forest. If you’re a nature and wildlife enthusiast, you’ll love exploring our NNR’s. 

If you’re looking for an excuse to explore some of these beautiful spots why not sign up to the Great Aberdeen Run and use them as your training ground? Click here to find out how to enter.

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7 - Adelle's Broad Hill Run

Being based in the Aberdeen and sharing a car often means I'm running in city centre or near to city centre locations. I've run at the beach on a number of occasions, as do many people visiting or living in the area, you can see why given it's such a great spot. The proximity to the city centre and good paths make this area when it coming to running or walking. This week I changed up my route - the beach esplanade is generally quite flat and so I wanted to challenge myself a bit more! I began my run heading past Pittodrie Stadium and turned off on the Golf Road direction past the Kings Links Driving Range up the path toward Broad Hill. You know all the time I've been living in Aberdeen I had never run up Broad Hill - it seemed I was in the minority here as there were a number of runners and dog walkers out on such a sunny Friday evening. I particularly enjoyed my run here due to the views over the beach, plus going downhill is always good - not that Broad Hill is particularly steep, it's just a nice change of pace. Once I had reached the end of the path I ran up towards Fittie (or Foot Dee), one of my favourite places in Aberdeen, and completed my circuit turning back towards Golf Road through the tunnel under the dunes.  

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6 - Adelle's Den of Maidencraig Run

The choice for my run this week was like many of my running choices - hidden pieces of greenery in the centre of town - convenient and peaceful. The Den of Maidencraig is a great running spot because the paths vary in steepness and you could choose a number of circuit options. For me, I've not been so focused on running lately as I've got a 30 mile walk coming up next week, but I took some time out of the slower paced, long-distance stuff (the Deeside Way has been a great training spot for that by the way) for a shorter, high speed chase (for want of a better word) since my furry friend, Oscar dog insisted the whole thing was a race. 

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The Den of Maidencraig is a Local Nature Reserve and is really a surprising addition to the western side of Aberdeen, once you head a long the path from the car park, you almost forget you're in the middle of a city. What I loved most about running here was the variety of terrains and view points (at one point, I stopped and took a break along the Denburn) including woodland, grasslands and the tranquil pond. The area is popular with dog walkers, runners, and wildlife enthusiasts. If you're thinking about training in Aberdeen or taking part in the Great Aberdeen Run, there are many spots like this close to the city. 


 

5 - David's Aden Country Park Run

Since my first update I have been running regularly 4 – 5 times per week. I like to run in different places and enjoy different terrains and somewhere that I have discovered is great for running is Aden Country Park at Mintlaw.  Aden Country Park is 230 acre country park featuring lots of great things to see and do as visitor including the ruin of a mansion house, gardens, waterways, forestry and beautiful landscapes.

The country park is criss-crossed with paths on tarmac, woodchip and gravel surfaces and the options of how far or short you wish to run are endless as you can just keep taking a new path and see where you end up.

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I have run at Aden three times this year and really enjoy the variety of scenery and the options to make your route different anytime. There are some hilly sections and plenty of flat paths so the park is suitable for runners of all abilities. 

Whilst at Aden do make time to have a look at the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum and Hareshowe Farm and make a visit to the café at Aden. If you venture out towards the back of the park you will find Old Deer which is a beautiful village.  You can also stay on site in a static caravan or in one of the newly opened Glamping Pods.

I am trying to increase the distance I run each week, edging ever closer to the half marathon distance. I am not there yet but hopefully by my next update.

4 – Nikki’s Aberdeen Beach Run

I have taken part in a few organised races before. Locally, the Santa Run and the Baker Hughes 10k. Further afield, the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow and the world famous Great North Run in Newcastle. I was delighted when I heard that the Great Run company were bringing the Great Aberdeen Run to our streets – and what a fantastic route! I’m joining David and have signed up for the half marathon.

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I never think of myself as a runner. And to be completely honest with you, I don’t really like running. What I do like though, is the sense of satisfaction I get when I have finished a run. Particularly if I go a run in the morning. I get a kind of smug feeling because some people are just getting up and I’ve already done my exercise for the day. I do find morning runs the toughest though, I like my cosy bed too much. However, when I do drag my butt out of bed to go a run I get to see some of the most gorgeous sunrises our beautiful coast has to offer.

I live near Aberdeen Beach so this tends to be my training ground. The added bonus of going a morning run is that quite often the beach is all mine. To find a beach in a city is one thing, but to find a deserted beach in a city is quite another. Nobody else is mad enough to be out there at 6am! Have a look at my video from this morning – I’m sure you’ll agree the tranquillity is worth the early alarm clock.

Aberdeen Beach is not only the perfect spot for a run, it’s also lined with some great café’s to grab a bite to eat and watch the world go by, and if you look out to sea you are highly likely to spot our urban dolphins playing in the water. The quaint fishing village of Footdee (known locally as Fittie) is at the end of the promenade and a great place to go for a wee walk. And don’t forget Codonas Amusement Park, where the ‘Grampian Eye’ provides some of the best views of Aberdeen.

If you’re still not feeling inspired to dust off those running shoes, head down towards the beach this Sunday. It’s the Baker Hughes running festival so it’s sure to get you motivated! Good luck to all the runners taking part ☺️


 

3 - Stevie's Brig O'Balgownie Run

If, like me, the last time you ran was from the car to your front door because it was raining, you probably haven’t considered entering the Great Aberdeen Run. But it’s not just a half marathon that’s taking place at the inaugural event on 27 August, there’s a family run and 10k too, the latter of which I have entered. 

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Last Sunday morning, I went for my first training run of the year. A friend, who regularly runs long distance, advised that it was a good training technique to imagine you are being chased by a bear. He lied. 

My route led me down the cobbled streets towards Brig O’Balgownie, which if I’m honest offered a welcomed rest-stop. The 13th century bridge will feature on the race route, but today I could enjoy this beautiful part of the city which has links to Robert the Bruce. The Brig O’Balgownie was the only Don crossing in the north of Aberdeen up until 1831 when the Bridge of Don was built. Today the Brig O’Balgownie is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and arches over a deep pool known as the Black Neuk, which provided inspiration for Byron’s poem Don Juan.

Come race day, we’ll cross the Brig O’Balgownie in a few seconds, but I would urge you to take a more leisurely visit, and enjoy one of Aberdeen’s most iconic landmarks.

You can still register to take part in the Great Aberdeen Run for the half marathon, 10K and family mile, sign up today on www.greatrun.org/great-aberdeen-run.


     

2 - Adelle's Duthie Park Run

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Unlike David, I'm not brave enough to attempt to run the half marathon for the Great Aberdeen Run. The event does have opportunities for those, who like me, are first time runners. So I'm going to attempt the race, but I've signed up for the 10K route instead.

Having never ran in any sort of race before, I started my training on an easy run with plenty of opportunity to stop. Having previously lived nearby, I chose Duthie Park to begin my training journey.

I love running in Duthie Park. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the region, Duthie Park is a 44 acre green space near the centre of the city with well kept floral areas and is home to one of Europe's largest indoor gardens - the David Welch Winter Gardens. Not only are the David Welch Winter Gardens one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe - it's also my favourite place for a running break or cool down once I'm finished.

The park itself has well maintained pathways and large grassy areas, so the risk of injury is limited. It is also one of my favourite places for running in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, because many fitness groups and other runners use this park - I never feel out of place.

If you're looking for more inspiration this weekend for running in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, RunBalmoral takes place on the 22rd and 23rd April 2017.

 


 

1 - David's Haddo House Run

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My new year’s resolution this year was to get out running more and as part of this I signed up to the mapmyrun 2017km running challenge and booked my place on the first Great Aberdeen Run Half Marathon. It is now mid-April and I have run 354 km (219 miles) and am starting to focus on my half marathon training and building up the distance that I run.

In my role at VisitAberdeenshire I am very fortunate to get out and about all over North Aberdeenshire so whenever I go to meetings or events I always take my running stuff with me so that at the end of the day I can fit a run in but more importantly somewhere different each time. This week I did a 4 mile run at Haddo House, Estate and Country Park near Tarves.  Haddo is a lowland estate that is dedicated to farming, forestry and country sports.  There is a magnificent National Trust eighteenth-century mansion, Haddo House alongside a 240 acre Country Park.

My run started at the main visitor car park, passed the front of Haddo House, round the edge of the terrace gardens, which feature seasonal planting, fountain, gravel pathways and statues and then out into the Country Park itself. The Country Park has a mixture of gravel and woodland pathways with some small hills so is a great place to run. The scenery is beautiful with landscaped areas, woodland, pond and streams and the Scots Mile, which runs from Haddo House through the Golden Gates and up to a stunning viewpoint marked by the Monumental Urn. There is a great network of paths so you can run a different route every time you visit Haddo.

Haddo has refreshment facilities, toilets and free parking so is a great place to run with some wonderful views and scenery.

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