Great Britain mountain running international Robbie Simpson is planning an epic 85-mile run from the mouth of the River Dee to its source high in the Cairngorms.
However, the Banchory-based athlete won’t undertake this demanding challenge until he’s confident he won’t be breaking any of the lockdown rules.
He said: “It has always been in my mind to run the whole length of a river at some point and the Dee is the obvious one for me.
“Under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t be thinking about doing it until I was much older. But, as there’s no racing happening at the moment, now is a good time.
“I still have to find out whether it’s possible or not given some of the rules in place at the moment, but I’d be keen to do it quite soon if some of the regulations are eased.”
Simpson is an experienced mountain runner, having finished third in the world championships a few years ago.
Last summer he helped Great Britain win team gold at the European championships in which he finished seventh.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist has also shown his class on the ultra-distance running scene, finishing fifth in last November’s North Face 50-mile race in California.
He admits, however, that his proposed run from Aberdeen to the Pools of Dee, high in the Cairngorms, will be a completely new experience.
The river rises from a spring on the Braeriach plateau at a height of 1,220m (4,000ft), making it the highest source of any major river in the British Isles.
Simpson said: “It’s going to be tough, especially with the hardest climbing coming towards the end.
“I have no idea how long it will take me as I’ve never run that far in one go before.
“Ideally, I’d like to start at sunrise and finish before sunset.
“If I get going at some point between 4 and 5am that gives me up to 17 hours to do it, which should be enough.
“There are some practical issues to consider, however, as once I get to the source I then have to get back to the nearest road to get picked up.
“So, I might have another seven miles at least to cover once I’ve finished.
“The first 50 miles or so, from Aberdeen to Ballater, is fairly straightforward as I can follow the Deeside Way.
“After that I’ll probably take the South Deeside Road, go through the Balmoral estate then back on to the North Deeside road and on to Braemar.
“There’s still a fair bit to go after that and that’s where much of the climbing takes place.
“It would be good to have some company along the way, particularly for the last part.
“I guess I could run with one other person for short stages if they were to join in at points near their homes along the way.
“There’s the option of doing it the other way round as that would get the mountainous part done early on when I’m still quite fresh.
“But I would have to walk about seven miles uphill just to get to the start.
“My preference is to start from Aberdeen, but I’ll make a final decision once I know whether the idea is feasible.
“I’m also keen to do it for charity, although I haven’t decided yet which one it should be.”
Simpson hopes he’ll be able to tackle the run quite soon, with daylight hours at their maximum and with no important races in the near future.
He said: “It will take me a bit of time to recover from this run, so I wouldn’t want to do it if I had a major race coming up. But it doesn’t look as though anything will be happening for a while.
“I’m waiting to hear if the London marathon will take place in any form in October, as I would probably do that.
“I’m also hopeful that the Lairig Ghru race might still happen at some time before the end of September.
“The organisers are waiting for a window when the rules might allow it to go ahead.
“They said they would give all the runners four weeks’ notice, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.”