The Dramathon; Speyside Whisky Marathon

I can’t remember when the Dramathon was first mentioned in our house. I suspect targeted advertising has a lot to answer for and an internet click by my partner managed to link two of his favourite things; Scotland and whisky.

The fact that the Dramathon involved a lot of running was by the by. He was sold at whisky before he even knew what the Dramathon meant. What it turned out to mean was a brilliantly organised running festival which offered runs of varying length along the Speyside way starting at distilleries, running past distilleries and finishing at Glenfiddich in Dufftown. With distances on offer all the way from full marathon to 10km there was something for all runners, even those such as myself who often feel like they shuffle and plod rather than run.

A perfect autumn morning over Glenfiddich distillery

Running as a sport is definitely a nemesis of mine. As I wrote earlier this year I love it and hate in equal measures. During my ‘training’ for the half Dramathon I really only remember enjoying one run over 10km in length; there were others but I’m pretty sure I hated every minute of them. My one and only previous half marathon had done some serious injury to my hip and I often felt I was only one long run away from another major injury. However, the miles did just about start to add up and although a bout of tonsillitis 3 weeks before the race did it’s best to put pay to my training I arrived in Dufftown feeling ok. I think illness had really taken away any pressure I had put on myself; this was to be about getting round uninjured, anything else was a bonus.

We stayed at the delightful Hillside Havens just outside Dufftown. Thankfully we’d picked convenient accommodation as race day started with a fairly major alarm clock malfunction resulting in Tom almost missing the bus out to the start of the marathon course. The weather was perfect; cool and sunny. The logistics were brilliantly organised, all runners were bussed out to their start points from the race village at Glenfiddich all you then had to do was run back!

The field was really varied in age and ability. Even on the narrower sections of the course all runners were courteous and the feed stations were some of the best I’ve ever seen at events. I really enjoyed the ginger based natural rehydration drinks but stuck to my trusty jelly snakes to fuel me along.

Heading around the bend and onto the uphill

I felt good, the running felt ok and the scenery and weather were beautiful. The last 10km is very gently up hill which was physically challenging and I was incredibly thankful for the training Bristol’s hills had provided – it’s impossible to go on a run without encountering them!

When the finish line was in sight I was a bit overcome with emotion; whether it was the personal achievement, the beauty of the area or the thought of the whisky based goodie bag it was hard to know. What I can say for certain is that the Dramathon is a fantastic race in a beautiful area that might even tempt me to do another half marathon in the future.

We stayed at Hillside Havens for three nights. We booked them as they seemed to offer best value in the area but were a little concerned about glamping in the autumn. However, I don’t thinking glamping really does them justice. Each hut has its own en-suite shower room and kitchenette along with a sofa and a supremely comfy double bed. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.

Speyside is a beautiful area and one that I’m really glad we had an excuse to explore. We had a lovely potter around Knockando woolen mill which I would really recommend if you find yourself in the area. We combined it with a pop in to the Macallen Distillery visitor centre which is an incredibly impressive modern building full of incredibly old, expensive whisky! Finally, we had a great meal at the Copper Dog in Craigellachie. Unfortunately their specialist whisky bar was closed on a Sunday evening but it’s always good to leave something for the next visit…. Cheers!

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