Marilyn = Any hill with a prominence of at least 150 metres.
It was a particularly dreary February evening when I first started mapping out Aberdeenshire’s Sub-2000 feet Marilyns. I wanted something out with my journalistic development to look forward to when the Summer months finally arrived. This involved peering at my laptop screen with my curtains tightly shut, comforted by the rumbling of lorries trundling down King Street and the BBC World Service.
At this point we were in our third-ish lockdown and I was desperately fire fighting a festering negativity which keep rearing its ugly head. A ray of positivity and motivation had been provided by Jonny Muir’s The Mountains are Calling: Running in the High Places of Scotland. I had read Muir’s descriptions of feats of endurance, such as the Ramsay Round, in about five days with a rare voracity.
Tucking into a second or fifth hobnob, I realised I fancied a bit of that glory for myself. And yet, I knew it would be some turnaround if I was to be completing anything similar to Charlie Ramsay’s epic 56 mile creation a few months on.
I quickly decided the challenge would centre around running Aberdeenshire’s 25 Sub-2000’s, possibly within a time limit. The next day, while watching Arsenal lose again, with Rory, I explained my plan to try and tick-off this list of hills over the Summer months.
Any distraction from the football was obviously a welcome one and my flatmate’s interest was instantly piqued. He said he wanted to join me on this adventure, walking the Marilyns instead and thus leaving my shortest figure hugging x-rated running shorts at home.
I was initially reluctant, as I imagined myself leaping down mountains with an agility I’ve never possessed. I hadn’t however, considered this social aspect and realising that this could be a great opportunity for us both, I quickly agreed.
This consensus was followed up by a rare moment of foresight, as we started outlining our first outing. This a solid three months before Covid-19 restrictions would be loosened to the point where we could venture out into the ‘Shire. The Hill of Founland and Hill of Tillymorgan were first on our list…