Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is the Ythan Challenge?

A: It’s a multi-terrain adventure race which starts and finishes at the Meadows Sports Centre in Ellon, north of Aberdeen. The course takes runners along a largely flat off-road path beside the river Ythan and onto the beautiful Esslemont Estate, which is usually closed to the public. Once on the estate, the going gets tougher underfoot and you can expect a few surprises as the course includes a series of obstacles — including the now famous (or possibly infamous!) straw bales and killer hills and, of course, the river itself. We have considered providing a course map but decided not to for two reasons — first because most of the race is run on a private estate and our priority is to maintain the landowner’s security and privacy, and secondly because it’s part of the race day fun to speculate on what might lie ahead….

Q: How far is the race?

A: It’s approximately 11k, but the course changes from year to year, so that's not set in stone! This is not a benchmarking event for anyone chasing down PBs...

Q: In that case, how can I work out how long it will take me?

A: Have a look at results from previous years. This race attracts a wide range of abilities, from elite club runners to first-timers. If you’re looking for a good yardstick, 2008 runner-up Andrew Greig crossed the line in 47:24 and finished the 2008 City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k in 36:15. Elaine Whyte finished the Dominion Gas Ythan Challenge as first woman home in 52:40 that year and was runner-up in Aberdeen in 38:56.

Q: How do we enter as a team?

A: You can enter as many runners as you like in a team with the first three across the line to count. Please note, though, that you do have to enter as a specific team — we won’t count three individual runners with the same club affiliation as a team.

Q: What are the prize categories?

A: There are prizes for the first, second and third men and women overall. There are also prizes for the first Male and Female Vet (40-49), first Male and Female Supervet (50-59), and first Male and Female Vintage (60+). There are also prizes for the first open team, first uniform team and first corporate team, as well as spot prizes.

Q: I’ve never done anything like this before — will I be OK?

A: Yes — as long as you’re reasonably fit, you’ve made a decent commitment to training and you’re confident you can run, or run/walk, without difficulty for at least 10k. The obstacles are there for fun — everyone who takes part tackles them in their own way. And remember you won’t be alone — there are plenty of other first-timers taking part!

Q: Can I swim the river bit?

A: No you can’t. The river isn’t consistently deep enough and there is a strong current. You must KEEP YOUR TRAINERS ON, stay upright and follow marshals’ instructions!

Q: What clothes should I wear?

A: Wear whatever you normally run in. This event is NOT suitable for fancy dress — sorry, but we won’t let you run unless you’re sensibly clothed! Avoid anything that flaps around your ankles and anything else that could impede you as you tackle the obstacles and the river. As with any race, you have to be the judge of what’s right for the weather on the day but because you will be getting wet, less is generally a better bet than more!

Q: What shoes should I wear?

A: Proper running shoes that you’ve broken in. Road shoes are fine as are trail shoes and fell shoes, such as Walshes or Inov8s. Leave the racers at home, though — you need a bit of support and grip. And please don’t run in lightweight aerobics shoes, tennis shoes, fashion trainers, boots, or anything closing with Velcro — this race is tough underfoot and you need something that’s going to go the distance and stay on your feet!

Q: What happens if I can’t finish?

A: We have marshals right around the course and you’ll never be far from one. If you’re dropping out, you MUST tell the nearest marshal so that race control knows you’re no longer in the running. The marshal will know where to send you to await a lift back to the Meadows.

Q: But what about if I’m injured or I’m feeling unwell?

A: We have first-aiders based on the Esslemont estate and at the Meadows. They can be with you very quickly wherever you are in the race and in the unlikely event that you needed hospital treatment would work with race control to ensure your swift transfer. We would then make sure your SOS contact knew what was happening — that’s why we ask for a specific name and race day number!

Q: Can my family watch me on the Esslemont estate?

A: Sorry, but no. Only runners and race personnel are allowed on the estate. Friends and family are welcome to stay at the Meadows where there will be refreshments available.

Q: How many drinks stations are there?

A: There will be water at the finish line and two drinks stations on the estate dispensing water only.

Q: And finally, are there any toilets?

A: Yes, at the Meadows and at the Old Laundry on the run-out from the estate. There are also showers and lockers (20p) at the Meadows, but please note that property is left at the owner’s risk.


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Walking Tall

Walking tall