By John Ritchie
Glen Tanar provided the trail, and a cool but tranquil night was the backdrop to the first ever Illuminator. A night time, 15mile trail run (or walk) started and finished at Aboyne Community Centre and took entrants up along the Fungle path and gently down through the forest. With over 2,200ft of ascent and a packed field of 560 runners and walkers lit up by heed torches and illuminous face paint this was no time to be thinking about PBs. The order of the day was keep warm, don't turn your ankle, and stay close to a buddy.
I counted 13 stonehaven club runners as we gathered in the school sports hall all layered up for the safety briefing plus a rather full on warm up to the sounds of YMCA and other modern grooves. We moved outside, a little too sweaty, for the start and set off at 7pm out of town.
The weather was perfect and only a clear sky could have made it any better. The night was cool but no gloves were required. Storm Abigail had missed by a couple of days leaving her presence in the form of some very muddy in parts and wet underfoot conditions.
The first climb was close and tough and the field made most of this a slow walk. Our club group naturally split into parts and as we reached the top of the first hill passing a piper collecting for the Braemar Mountain Rescue, the runners were thinning out. Darkness was broken only by the impressive sight of a long trail of slow moving head torches ahead and behind, and marshals making sure we kept to the correct turns. It was quite difficult even to work out who was next to you. Thankfully some in our team had the strength to keep talking the whole way so our little flock stayed together.
Half way provided warm Ribena, flapjack and a multi-coloured light station to regroup and renourish. The second half of the route was much quieter; the temperature dropped as we descended into the river valley and the security of having lots of lights around disappeared. A field of sheep can look really spooky when you shine a torchlight into their eyes.
For the last 3 miles the organisers put in what can only be described as an utter b*******d of a climb but the reward for reaching the top was mud. Lots of mud. And the fun of squelching, slipping and sliding through it all down to the edge of town. Happily the writer can report that there were no George Michael moments for club members, just a minor trip and a grazed knee from Vikki.
At the finish we picked up our memento - no medal but a cup into which was poured much tea - and a couple of yum yums, and a long chat reliving our highlights (and lowlights).
Runners were me, Vikki and Iain Shanks, Rebecca Bryce, Elaine Crawford, Ryan Gordon, Paul Duncan, Georgina Ward, Kate Robertson, Graeme Ritchie, Jennifer and Marc Herbert, Philip Morris and Alison Paterson. (Have I missed anyone)?
First male home was Ryan Gordon (2:03:41).
First Female was Alison Paterson (2:46:51).