Taking a break from de-commissioning Dounreay and helping the SAS, Allan Comrie tells us why he’s coming back for his fifth challenge..
Tell us a bit about yourself
I live in Thurso, Caithness. I’m a chemical engineer, currently working on the decommissioning of the Dounreay Nuclear facility (and no, I don’t glow in the dark!) I enjoy running obviously, hillwalking, cross-country skiing (when we get enough snow up here), reading and travelling when time allows. I also volunteer as a Community First Responder for the Scottish Ambulance Service (always sounds good when you say you help the SAS!)
Tell us a bit your running history. What kind of running do you enjoy best?
Been running since Uni. Originally it was just to keep hill fit for weekends hill walking, but since moving up to Thurso (1991), I got involved in running with like-minded folks, taking part in local 10Ks such as Golspie and Brora, Inverness and Aviemore half marathons. Really enjoy trail running and hill running – it’s great to get out for a run at Broubster Forest after work, especially in the spring, or shelter in Dunnet Forest on an easy Sunday morning run in the winter.
How many times have you been to CWC?
I think I’ve done four Challenges - not sure! Maybe Frances could enlighten us!
What made you come to CWC for the first time?
On my first visit, I was helping my cousin Shona to fill a five person relay team. Won’t forget that weekend! My mate, Tony Chalmers, came to run in a three man team and we camped at Sango Sands campsite (the most exposed campsite in Scotland?) Well, it was very wet and windy and we were disappointed to find the weather had forced the run to be moved to the mainland (that’s only happened once again, last year!) But it was incredibly well organised, and very friendly, so the weather didn’t really matter. That’s when we both decided we’d like to come back the next year to do the full Challenge - once we’d found out there was a bunkhouse we could stay in for the week (Thank you Fiona Mackay!)
What makes the event special to you? What makes you come back?
It’s the friendly challenge! The event is very well organised, but relaxed at the same time. Runners of all abilities are welcome, which is a big boost for ‘back of the pack’ runners like me! Never elitist, there is always plenty of encouragement just when you need it, and everyone in the village gets involved. Great to see the kids joining in on the beach run. It’s just a beautiful place to run! You can experience four seasons in one day - last year was a great example. The sea, beaches and mountains make you realise how lucky we are to be able to enjoy such wild places.
What is your favourite race or run at Durness?
Probably the Cape-side to Lighthouse section of the team run - the anticipation of the run, travelling in the minibus to the slipway, then the transfer across the Kyle in the inflatable rib is like no other pre-race routine!! The hill run is good too - I like that kind of off-road running!
What is your favourite part of the week, or favourite thing to do in the area?
Hard to say really, there are so many highlights! The ceilidh is amazing! Thanks to all those who help produce such a brilliant buffet. The pub quiz on Monday night is a great laugh, but there are some serious players out there! And the week wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Cocoa Mountain and a serious hot chocolate!
What are you most looking forward to when you return?
Meeting all the friends I’ve made over the Challenges and making new friends!
Describe Cape Wrath Challenge week in three words...
Friendly, fun, scenic.
Tell us about your all-time favourite run (that's not in Durness!)
Difficult one that. The 13 mile route at the Great Wilderness Challenge in Gairloch is a great run through the mountains of Wester Ross, but the off-road half marathon on the Cyprus 4 Day International Challenge has some superb views high up on the mountain ridges.
Anything else you want to tell the CWC Community?
The soup and sandwiches at the end of each run are superb. Thanks to the ladies for providing such great lunches.