DUNCAN Howard, 40, is training for the 5K Deerstalker adventure race. This is the second time he’s joined the 3,500 men and women who take part in the race every year.
You might ask why. “I was at the starting line and asking myself what on earth I’d let myself in for. I couldn’t remember why I’d thought it was a good idea. My wife Donna tells me it was because I was going through a mid-life crisis,” said the father-of-four of Uphall, West Lothian.
“We’d lost six stone between us and had become regulars at the gym. I was bored with my workout and looking for a new challenge. The 5K race didn’t sound too bad – like a school cross country run. I didn’t realise the course would be so hard with very, very steep hills. I don’t know what was worse, running up or down them.
“But it was great to experience the camaraderie of the crowd and the buzz of excitement. Some runners were in fancy dress and others in tweeds, so there was a wonderful atmosphere.
“I ran with my wife for the first mile but she got fed up with me ‘encouraging’ her and she told me to get lost. It was hard going but there was never a point when I wanted to give up. When I reached the finish line I was euphoric and had a real sense of achievement.
“When I finished, I joined the crowd at the beer tent. You get a free pint when you finish. It was one of the best pints I’ve ever had.
“This year I’m determined to shave off seven minutes and complete the race in an hour. At lunchtimes I run through Edinburgh where I work as a training manager in a wealth management company. There are plenty of hills so it’s an ideal circuit to run up to the castle and back down again.”
The Deerstalker is on March 14 at Traquair House, in the Scottish Borders. The run is over rugged terrain and a mixture of steep ascents, mud-filled trenches, water crossings, forest trails and various natural and manmade obstacles including the The Rack, The Scree and The Tunnel. Tickets start from £35. www.ratrace.com The Edinburgh Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest is on October 18. The tough route runs through Princes Street Gardens and the cobbled streets of the Old Town with obstacles such as a hay bale wall, an army assault course area and a sheer 8ft-high wall. Tickets start from £45. Visit ratrace. com