Do something mad outdoors on New Year’s Day

Aonach Mor Hill Race. Pic credit: John O'Neill

Aonach Mor Uphill Race. Photograph: John O’Neill

While many Scots nurse a New Year’s Day hangover, some hardy souls will be braving the chilly outdoors. Why not join them?

New Year’s Day was once strictly a time for taking it easy indoors after the excesses of Hogmanay – but now there are a surprising number of organised outdoors events and races taking place on the first day of the year.

For runners 

The Aonach Mor Uphill Race is a tough run of 4km with a 610m climb and takes place at Nevis Range Ski Centre, near Fort William.

Last year, 120 runners turned up at 11am to run the tough uphill event, organised by Lochaber AC, and this year entries are similar. The winner is the first person to reach the mountain gondola top station. All entrants are treated to soup and a roll at the top before returning by gondola.

Hamish Barbour, of Bellahouston Road Runners, in Glasgow, has signed up for the race for a second time. He reckons the race is “a good focus on a day when most people will be putting their feet up”.

Hamish adds: “I like to challenge myself and I enjoy winter hill running. Having a goal for New Year’s Day really suits me. I did the race last year and enjoyed the atmosphere. And it’s a great way to start 2015 as I hope to go on.”


Uphill run on New Year's Day. Pic credit: John O'Neill

Uphill run on New Year’s Day. Photograph: John O’Neill

The Pyscho Squirrels, from Falkland Trail Runners in Fife, invite you to get your new year off to a flying start with their Resolution Run on January 1 at 1pm. The four-mile run takes place on the trails and paths of Falkland Estate. It’s a low-key race with prizes to the first three male and female finishers and also a number of spot prizes.

A gentler Portobello Promathon offers a four-mile run along the coast at the Edinburgh seaside suburb. There is also a shorter fun run.

For triathletes

Four hundred athletes have already signed up to the Tri Centre New Year’s Day Triathlon in Edinburgh. Organised by Edinburgh Triathletes, the race features a 400m pool swim, an 11-mile cycle and a 3.5 mile run.

The focus for this sell-out event is the Commonwealth Pool and Arthur’s Seat. Participants race solo or in a team. There’s also a duathlon for children aged eight to 15. Surprisingly, a third of entrants are new-comers to triathlon.

John Whittacker, one of the triathlon organisers, said: “Whatever the weather there is always a great turnout and the atmosphere is brilliant.”

Yoga teacher Mark Russell, of Glasgow, has taken part in four Tri Centre New Year’s Day Triathlons. He says: “Doing a triathlon is an incredible way to start the year. It feels good knowing that you are doing something so much healthier than suffering with a hangover. It has become something of an annual tradition and my family come to cheer me on.”

Edinburgh New Year's Day Triathlon. Pic credit: Bob Marshall Sports Photography

Edinburgh New Year’s Day Triathlon. Photograph: Bob Marshall Sports Photographer

Although entries are full for 2015 you can cheer on the triathletes or sign up for 2016. See

For swimmers or (dookers)

A dook is a dip or swim in open water and most often requires you to brave the sea or loch minus a wetsuit.

There are an increasing number of official and unofficial New Year’s Day dooks that take place across Scotland and the number of brave swimmers is growing.

In 2015, one of Scotland’s most legendary dooks, the Loony Dook, takes place at South Queensferry at 1.30pm. This dip sees swimmers jumping into the freezing waters of the Forth and many will be in fancy dress.

At noon, on the same day, the 2015 RNLI New Year Swim takes place at Rhu Marina, Helensburgh, raising funds for Helensburgh RLNI.

Scott Russell dressed as 'Hawaii Elvis' jumps into the sea at Brodick, Arran.

Scott Russell dressed as ‘Hawaii Elvis’ jumps into the sea at Brodick, Arran.

The Isle of Arran hosts the Douglas Dook, also at noon, at Brodick jetty. The annual splash into the chilly Firth of Clyde is organised by the Douglas Hotel and raises funds for Scottish Mountain Rescue.
Scott Russell, of Kilmarnock, is a regular at the Arran dip.He says: “It’s a fun thing that to do when staying in Arran for a few days over New Year. Last year I dressed as Hawaiian Elvis! The swim is something to look forward to, while also dreading it, but we always have a laugh later over a wee drink.”

A New Year’s Day Dook is also organised by open water swimming club, Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association (YAABA), in Broughty Ferry Harbour, near Dundee, and has taken place every year since 1989.

A spokesperson said: “The first year we had to break the ice with pick axes in the harbour to be able to swim. Now the dook is the largest in Scotland with more than 300 dookers and raises valuable funds for a number of charities.”

There are many other unofficial New Year Day swims taking place and there’s a high chance the Wild West Swimmers will be out in force.

For mountain bikers

Arran Bike Club has a Lamlash Night Ride taking place at 6pm on January 1. The club will meet at Lamlash Fire Station with a plan to ride by bright bike lights off road as much as possible, using forest tracks and single track. Anyone is welcome to join, young or older, fit or not so fit, and including visitors to the island.

And before you go back to work

A few other events take place between January 1 and the official day of going back to work on January 5, 2015.

  • Greenmantle Dash on January 2 from Broughton Village Hall, near Biggar. The race is a challenging 200m over 3.3km. See Scottish Hill Racing
  • Lumphanan Detox 10k on January 2 in Aberdeenshire.
  • EL-Brim-ick Dash, organised by the Cosmics Hillbashers, is a three mile run climbing 800ft in South Kirkhill, Aberdeenshire, on January 3.

Tell us about any New Year’s Day outdoors events in Scotland that you are entering or know about.

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