Athletics: ‘It will be the first Fetteresso Forest marathon and I’m excited about it’

From left, Jason Kelly, Chris Cowley and DeeDee the dog check out the Fetteresso marathon course.

Chris Cowley loves pounding out the miles through Fetteresso Forest so much he has organised a new marathon to allow others to share the experience.

The 29-year-old long distance running enthusiast regularly hits the trails through the woods near his Stonehaven home and the setting inspired him to put the wheels in motion for the event, to be held on February 18.

There are only 120 places available and these are being snapped up quickly by the enthusiastic north-east running community.

Cowley said: “It will be the first Fetteresso Forest marathon and I’m excited about it. I hope everyone will enjoy it.

“I’m in the forest all the time and it’s such a great place to run, so I thought it would be an ideal setting for a race.

“There hasn’t been a marathon race in the Aberdeen area for a long time, so it’s maybe a bit different for people, although it certainly won’t be a place for fast times.

“The course is pretty tough. The route is constantly undulating, there are very few flat sections and it includes about 800m of climbing.

“But it’s all on good landrover tracks and trails, although there’s a small section which might be a bit muddy, depending on the weather conditions.

“It’s basically one big loop, other than a relatively small section where runners go out and back on the same stretch.

“The forest is so big it’s probably possible to run 50 miles without retracing your steps too much.”

February isn’t normally a time of year when marathon races are held in this country.

But Cowley says that’s part of the reason for putting it on now.

He said: “There’s a gap in the calendar so I thought it would be a good time.

“It also comes around a month before the Dee 33-mile race, so it gives people the chance to put in a long run ahead of that.

“The weather might be an issue, but we plan to go ahead unless something very extreme happens.

“We held a trial run over the course at this time last year and it was covered in snow, but that wasn’t a problem.

“We expect our competitors to be hardy souls

“We do insist, however, that everyone carries waterproof full body cover, a hat, gloves, a map of the route, compass and whistle.

“It is going to be a no-frills race so we can keep the cost down. So it’s one for the running purists. There’s no changing or showering facilities, but we will have toilets.

“We will have water stations but, to avoid waste, no paper cups will be provided so runners should bring their own bottles or cups.

“Hopefully it will be a success and can become an annual event. If it proves to be popular we’ll look at expanding the number of runners we can take.”