Millennium old Braemar race not over the hill yet

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Britain’s oldest hill race will set off next week from Braemar Castle, where it first began almost a millennium ago.

Runners will tackle the steep route up Creag Choinnich, which overlooks the castle, on Wednesday, June 21 for the Creag Choinnich Midsummer Race.

James Espie, from Deeside Runners, won last year with a time of 17:24.

The race was revived at the castle last year.

It was held there in Victorian times as part of the Braemar Gathering.

However Queen Victoria was offended when she witnessed her ghillie spitting blood at the end of the race and it was suspended in 1850.

The race returned about a decade ago and was run from the Games Park as part of the annual Junior Highland Games, but has now moved to its new mid-summer date at the castle.

Al Hubbard, Middsummer Race organiser, said: “We were delighted to take the race back to its roots last year and it was a great success.

“Hill runners are used to holding their prize-giving in muddy fields – not in the grand hall of a castle.

“It was a real treat, so we’re again expecting a healthy entry.”

The race will be pipped off at 8pm, with registration at 7pm.

Entries will be taken on the day, although pre-registration is recommended.

The Creag Choinnich Race was first recorded in 1064 when King Malcolm II used it to find the fastest man to deliver dispatches from Kindrochit Castle, his hunting lodges in the village.

The first home that day was the younger of two MacGregor brothers who received “a handsome sword, a baldric and a purseful of gold”.