It was an early drive up north on Sunday for Fraser McCoull, Noel Finegan and myself for the inaugural ‘Fetteresso Forest Marathon’ organised by Christopher Cowley and his team from Stonehaven Running Club, in managed pine woodland of Fetteresso a few miles west of Stonehaven.
The £10 entry fee – appealing to the thrifty Yorkshire side of me (thanks Dad) – was fantastic value for money, the organisation was spot on, the route tough (more on that later) well-marked and marshaled – two of which were later seen en route in fancy dress as ‘pink teddy bear’ and ‘white rabbit’ – well at least I hope they were… also there were definitely two water stations (cup-less).
The course was ‘undulating’, ‘twisty’ and ‘turny’, surprisingly not as dull as ‘26.2 miles of forest fire road’ sounds, made all the more arduous by the thin layer of old snow and ice that covered most sections of the course, this made a consistent pace and rhythm hard to maintain without your feet ripping behind you or out to one side, a few bloody knees at the end. There was at times that ‘maze’ feeling you can get in managed forests, but only for a time then it would open out into more varied scenery. I had a decent run to finish 5th in 3hrs 22mins, quite happy considering the 2500ft of ascent and probably 16 miles of crusty snow and ice. Fraser rounded out the top ten in 3hrs 42mins, Noel in 3hrs 50. Around 90 or so starters (hopefully more next year) the winners being Mark Mosgrove of Banchory RC in 3hrs 08mins and Lauren Kedar of Cosmic Hillbashers in 3hrs 43mins.
The post-race afters of soup (potato and leek, and tomato) together with tea, coffee, and tray bakes helped put events costing three or more times as much to shame, even included edible tree shaped medals (left over Christmas tree decorations or ‘forest themed’? Either way they were really good with a cup of tea!). Well worth checking out next year, hopefully a bit less precarious conditions next time!
Results and other info on Stonehaven’s page https://stonehavenrunningclub.webnode.com/club-races/fetteresso-forest-marathon/