The Herald Magazine - - OUTDOORS -

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.ra­ 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


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