Upon graduating from university in 2011, I started working again for my former employers (Royal Mile Whiskies) who were just opening up their first wine shop, aptly named “Drinkmonger” in the small Perthshire village of Pitlochry. While I spent almost 2.5 years living and working in this tranquil tourist-town, I never quite felt at all settled – and indeed my personal renaming of the town “The Pit” and/or “Shitlochry”, while entirely unoriginal, crudely displays my enduring opinion of living there.
However, nestled on the banks of the River Tay and beneath the pleasantly-strollable Ben Y Vrackie mountain, Pitlochry is a lovely town to visit. Yes, there are the tourist-tat shops yet also an enviable plethora of quality independents – homewares, gift-shops, coffee-shops, country-fashionistas, independent wine-merchants (x3!!!) and an awesome outdoor sporting specialist in the form of Escape Route.
I’ve been back to The Pit only once (or is it twice!?) since I left in October 2013, and I know there have been quite a few happenings, so time was ripe for a revisit. With the annual Pitlochry 10k running event on at the weekend, I thought I could kill a couple of birds with the single metaphorical stone.
The Pitlochry 10k was the last race I ran before leaving Pitlochry, so I had the target of beating my 2013 finishing time – a race in which I had easily led the first 1km at training speed, but then dropped down the order as the race drew on. I think I finished that race in about 43 minutes – but as I was not on Strava then, have no evidence of such (so it doesn’t really count!).
I’ve run a few 10k events already this year (season’s best time of 51 minutes 3 seconds set in June at the Vale Of Leven 10k), plus a couple of training runs, so I was hoping to set an improved time for the year – but with the Mid Argyll Sprint Triathlon next weekend, and the Glasgow Half Marathon the weekend after, needed also to treat this as just a training race. Absolutely nothing whatsoever contradictory there then!
The race route is a good mix of surfaces, incline, terrain and scenery. Starting in the middle of the town with a slight climb past all the shops and supportive crowd, we headed out along the B8019 towards Killiecrankie, looped down through the grounds of the Faskally Caravan Park – thankful of the shade provided by the avenue of overhanging trees, along the east-bank of the River Tummel, a brief section minding branches and obscured-steps through the woodland paths of Faskally Forest and Loch Dunmore, over a narrow and bouncy footbridge, alongside the A9 with the occasional supportive toot from passing cars, and a final sprint (downhill!) towards the finish line at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
It was a hot day with very little cloud cover, and having just arrived after driving 2.5 hours over from the west coast, suitably not-hydrated and under-fueled, I admittedly found it pretty tough-going. Very happy though not to have picked up any fresh injuries, and not to have induced a return of the knee injury I’ve been nursing these last 2 years. So all in, fairly pleased with my finishing time of 51 minutes 10 seconds – despite that narrow miss of 7 seconds from my season’s best!
Just as well it was only a training run rather than a race then…