Donside Runners conquer local mountain tops

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Local runners Steve Helmore and Jonathan Bellarby recently completed a ‘fun’ run along the skyline surrounding Alford – 93 km (58 miles) and 3400m (11,000 ft) of ascent.

Alford is almost surrounded by hills, several of which are well known – Bennachie, Cairn William and Pressendye for example; others less known.

By linking 23 of these tops, a circuit is possible and a similar route had indeed been done previously by mountain bike.

The amount of road running is limited to a few miles and much of the route has tracks and paths but several of the sections benefitted from local knowledge and recces over the winter months.

Several animal-proof caches of food and drink were also strategically placed the night before to minimise the amount carried.

Starting at 7 am on May 22 at Tilliefourie, they summited Green Hill, Benaquhallie, Mill Maud and Craiglich before the heavens opened on Pressendye.

With little wind, the heavy rain persisted for much of the next nine hours.

After Coiliochbhar and Lord Arthur’s Hill, a quick stop for pasta and cake at Suie car park was a welcome break from the rain before the Gordon Way led damply onto the tops of Bennachie – Watch Craig, Oxen Craig, Mither Tap and Millstone.

After crossing the Don, the final group of hills was Pitfichie, Cairn William and (the other) Green Hill.

The finish at Tillifourie was reached by head torch shortly after 11 pm.

The achievement was an impressive display by the two runners.

Steven and Jonathan are pictured above at the summit of Mither Tap.