Pick of the best running & biking races and triathlons in the Cairngorms National Park
Were you one of the many people – research says there’s 59% of us – who made a resolution to exercise more this year? And, if you were, how is that going?
Don’t worry if that resolution has fallen by the wayside. Springtime is the perfect time to spring back into action and the best way to keep your motivational levels going is to sign up to a physical challenge and have something to aim for.
The Cairngorms area plays host to many competitions, from triathlons to fun runs, set in stunning scenery. With the evenings getting lighter and lighter, too, there’s no excuse for missing training, either, even if you’re on holiday! (Check out this blog for training run suggestions).
Dates for your diary – sporting challenges in the Cairngorms
24, March, Haughs of Cromdale 10K Road Race: To compete in this race, now in its fifth year, simply turn up on the day to register at midday at Cromdale Hall. The race starts at 1.30pm, costs £7 and all proceeds are for the hall.
7 April, Glenlivet 10K: This year marks the 10th anniversary of this award-winning race, which came 3rd in the ‘Best UK Road Race’ category in the UK Running Awards. Proceeds support Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland.
27 & 28 April, Run Balmoral: this weekend event, in its 22nd year, is comprised of 8 races including 1.5k, 5k, 10k, 15 mile trail race, Duathlon and the ‘Devil O Deeside’ medal (for those that complete all 5 adult races!). These races, being on the beautiful Balmoral Estate, have lots of pomp and ceremony with, for example, bagpipes playing to encourage runners up its famous hill section. The sweat is worth it for the stunning views. About 5,000 entrants are expected to turn up with this event always drawing in many spectators, too.
18 May, Mike’s Bikes Aviemore 100: This challenge includes both off road and on road cycling over 100km with participants able to do all solo, or do it in pairs.
25 May, Laggan 10k and 1 Mile Fun Run: This is a favourite with families. It’s an ‘out and back’ picturesque route from the village hall through ‘Monarch of the Glen’ (the BBC TV show filmed here) countryside.
25 May, Cairngorm to Coast: A 30km hike, followed by 70km cycle over the spectacular Dava Way to Lossiemouth.
20 May, 3 Pistes Cycle Sportive: This ‘tour of the highlands’ is a 3 day bike ride around Scotland’s ski centres and over the UK’s 2 highest roads, finishing at Cairngorm Ski Centre.
16 June, Heart of the Park Trail Run: A popular 12km trail run around Braemar which takes in a variety of natural obstacles including river crossings, marsh, forest and the infamous Coire Feragie bogs.
19 June, Creag Choinnich Hill Race: A short hill race and allegedly the oldest recorded hill race dating back to 1068 when King Canmore would use the race to select messengers!
23 June, Kingussie Bikeathon: This 25 mile road-bike cycle event is very popular with all the family with the route incorporating Gentrium, Laggan and Newtonmore.
June, DSUK Race the Train: date TBC. Another fun race which the kids will enjoy, from Boat of Garten to Aviemore via the Speyside Way, which runs parallel to the train track and covers approximately 7K. The challenge is to get to the finish in Aviemore before the train does… Proceeds to Disability Snowsports UK.
30 June, Lairig Ghru Race: This popular hill running race is 43km long with a route from Braemar to Aviemore, with a 640m climb along the way.
13th July, Mike Grant Memorial Races: Children’s races organised as part of the Braemar Junior Games. But it’s not just running races that wee ones can compete in, there’s also heavy weights, tug-of-war, highland dancing and a hill run. See:
20th July, Tom Na Bat Hill Race, Tomintoul Highland Games: This hill race is part of the Tomintoul Highland Games and the route takes a course around Tom na Bat Hill looking down on the Games Field. 5.6km with an ascent of 340m.
17 & 18 August, The Starman Night Triathlon: Dubbed ‘the UK’s first midnight marathon’, this race is not for the fainthearted! After a 1.2mile swim in Loch Morlich, competitors then bike for 56miles and finish up with a 13.1mile run, which includes summiting Cairngorm Mountain.
September (date TBC), The Cairngorm Adventure Triathlon: Affectionately called ‘The Cat’, this triathlon is particularly popular because, instead of the usual swim, pairs of participants jump in a Canadian canoe to do a loop around Morlich before jumping on their bikes for 25km, then 5km on foot. This race is so popular it’s notorious for selling out quickly, so keep an eye on the website for entry details if you are keen to add this one to your resolution list!
7 September, the Braemar Gathering Hill Race: The race covers approximately 3 miles with a climb up to 1200ft. The highlight for many runners is the roaring applause on finishing from the crowds attending the Gathering.
13 October, Aviemore Half Marathon & 10K: This race is one of the most scenic of its kind in the world, taking in forest trails and roads around the Loch Morlich area with both starting at Badaguish and finishing at the Strathspey Hotel in the Macdonald Hotel Resort in Aviemore.
19 October, Dramathon Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & relay: This race follows the Speyside Way from Glenfarclas Distillery to Glenfiddich Distillery, taking in several other distilleries on the way. Highlight for many is the scenic route as well as the free whisky miniatures at the finishing line!
26 October, Illuminator Night Trail Race, 8km, 15km or 15miles: Describing itself as ‘Scotland’s toughest night trail race’ this event comprises 3 routes through the stunning Glen Tanar area. Walkers welcome for shorter routes.
December, DSUK Aviemore Santa Run (date TBC): another festive family favourite, this event is just the ticket to getting into the Christmas spirit. Runners dress up as Santa or his elves and compete in a 1 mile or 5K fun run around Aviemore, with all proceeds to Disability Snowsports UK.
For more races in the east side of the National Park, see: http://braemarscotland.co.uk/things-to-do/running/
Another site with useful information on events: https://www.scottishhillrunners.uk/Calendar.aspx
If there are any more events we have missed please send us the details and we can add them on.