Community makes a dash for two fun runs
It's an extraordinary achievement for a country primary school with just 42 pupils to organise a huge event like this. But every year, Dunecht Primary attracts hundreds of people to take part in its fundraising 5K race and 2K fun run.
The "Dunecht Dash" was first held in 2006, when headteacher Deborah Burr was pushing her baby son, Sam, around the route in a pushchair.
Sam, 9, now makes his way around the race route under his own steam, while his mum is back at headquarters coordinating race times on a laptop.
The event is held on private roads on Dunecht Estate in rural Aberdeenshire, just 10 miles west of Aberdeen, and draws 400 runners across the two races and hundreds of spectators.
Dunecht School Parent Council masterminds the logistics, and along the route parents are kitted out in high-visibility jackets or going the distance with their kids. The 2K fun run is an inter-schools race, so children come from schools across Aberdeenshire and beyond to take part.
Whole families are out running together at an event that's also a popular fixture for serious runners across the North East.
They are out to ruin Scotland's reputation as a nation of pie-eating couch potatoes; everywhere you look there are mums and dads in running gear and not a Rab C. Nesbitt in sight.
Last year's event took place on a rather grey Sunday morning, with a cold nip in the air. But the rain stayed away and everything went smoothly, thanks to an army of volunteer parents and teachers organising everything from car parks to last-minute entrants.
Aberdeen runner Scott Strachan and his pal got a place in the 5K by the skin of their teeth. "I saw it last night on the internet and there was a flier saying there was some entries on the day, so we thought we'd come along and see if we could get on. We got the last two places, and it looks excellent. We just run to keep fit," he says.
Party Rock Anthem blasted out of the speakers as fitness coach Lisa Delfino got hundreds of children and parents warmed up for the off. Children as young as four-year-old Nathan Carr were limbering up to head for the start line with their mums beside them.
Mum-of-three Kerry Danraj took part with her husband Bruce and their two young children, Leah and Blane. Kerry gave birth to the latest addition to the family, baby Logan, just 12 weeks before but was itching to pound the tarmac.
"We're doing it for the first time this year - the children did it last year," says Kerry, whose children are pupils at St Peter's School in Aberdeen.
Dunecht's parent council chairman John Carter was at the start line with his stopwatch as the starter horn sounded and they're off. It may be a fun run, but it's also a race and these young runners looked like they were in it to win it.
First across the finish line in just 7 minutes 38 seconds was 11-year-old Rebecca Eggeling from Robert Gordon's College and in second place Alasdair Campbell, 10, from South Esk School, who travelled up from Montrose. "I'm here because I like running and it's good fun," says Alasdair, who finished in 8 minutes.
Everyone who competes gets a medal and one of the hundreds of goodie bags which the children of Dunecht Primary pack. Grandparents Hazel and Keith Grieve were waiting at the finish line for their grandchildren Hannah, 9, and Robbie McIntyre, 7, both at Dunecht Primary.
The children's mum was working on the administration side: "I'm helping with the corporate team entries and with the registration and results," says Sheila, who takes part in the event every year with her whole family.
"They've been training for this at school. Isn't it just great? We'd nothing like this when I was at school," says granddad Keith, who was celebrating his 79th birthday the next day.
A CROSS-CURRICULAR BONUS
The Dunecht Dash is also used as a focus for cross-curricular learning for pupils at this school who take on responsibilities for some of the organisation and planning.
"The children order all the goodies for the goodie bags," says head Deborah Burr. "And of course they wanted it to be Fairtrade, because we're a Fairtrade school. So they sourced all that and were given a budget and they managed to work it out. In one hour we managed to pack 400 goodie bags and quality-checked the whole lot. And on the eco side they wanted to make sure everybody was recycling and composting."
Being involved in organising the race also sends out all the right messages about fitness and healthy living to children and their parents. And some of the proceeds from the event will boost this area of the curriculum.
"It was a group of parents seven years ago who decided they wanted to do this amazing event," says Mrs Burr. "Some of the money raised does go to fund the health and well-being aspect of the curriculum - that was the initial idea of the parents in setting all of this up."
Cash raised also benefits Epilepsy Action, Chest, Heart amp; Stroke Scotland and Aberdeenshire Disability Sport.