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Student Runner Robbie Feels Flat After Scaling New Heights in Europe’s Finest Mountains

Published Wednesday, 11th December 2013 in Study at SRUC news

Robbie Simpson Alps Run

Robbie Simpson, a fourth year Countryside Management student at Scotland’s Rural College, says his successful summer season spent competing high in the Alps has improved his performances on the flat.

Robbie - who studies at the Aberdeen Campus - finished second in the Senior Men’s race at the East of Scotland Cross Country Championships. Although for mountain specialists like Robbie cross country events are a side line, they do offer a chance to compare form with other elite athletes. His finish, eleven seconds behind winner Robert Russell (Central AC) marked an improvement. 

However, the 9.6 km course at Dundee’s Camperdown Park was a far cry from Robbie’s summer challenges. In May this year he set off on the start of his adventure which would see him visit seven countries and enter several gruelling mountain races through some of the most challenging slopes and stunning scenery Europe has to offer.

Switzerland was his first stop where he based himself in Anzere. From there he successfully scaled Neirivue le Moleson. The race finishes on top of the mountain where all contestants celebrate with Gruyere cheese and yoghurt.

The Mountain Running Grand Prix in France then beckoned, quickly followed by the European Mountain Running Championships where Robbie was representing Scotland against 25 other countries. Our boy and his team claimed the silver medal. The first time in recent years that any British men’s team have been placed.

By July, Robbie had moved to Italy and took part in one of the toughest races of his season before Grintovec in Slovenia beckoned. Robbie described it as:

“2000m of vertical height gain equivalent to two Munroes in 40 deg heat. It was incredibly steep and horrible.”

Given that Robbie trains in our chilly home climate, it was an amazing achievement to come 4th behind three other athletes from Kenya and Uganda.

Robbie’s best race was yet to come. The Sierre-Zinal where he joined over 500 other elite runners and more than 4000 others to compete in the world famous televised event. The 30km race begins with a 1500m vertical ascent from Sierre followed by a half marathon at height on hilly terrain to Zinal where all competitors finish with a steep descent in the village. Three Olympians and a Columbian were the only men to cross the finish line before Robbie, an experience Robbie described as “hugely enjoyable”.

For further information, photos and a full round up of Robbie’s fabulous season and forthcoming races, you can follow his blog.

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