170 runners toed the line at Braemar police station keen to get going on their journey to Aviemore police station through the iconic Lairig Ghru mountain pass as part of the 27 mile race which was being run for the 40th time. Quite a change from the 13 entrants who set off on the same journey in 1976 (does anyone know any of the entrants from that race?).
The weather was suitably summery at the 1000 start, temperatures
were maybe a little warm once the field headed into the pass proper and
the bright sunshine radiating off the rocks made it a little less than
pleasant, but us hill runners are made from stern stuff!
By the time the faster finishers had got stuck into the fantastic
soup, scones and cakes, which were in never ending supply from the
Mountain Café, the rain started to fall and did so for the next couple of
hours, this did little to dampen the spirits of the competitors who
had already finished as they cheered in everyone else at the race end.
Rob Sinclair from Garioch Road Runners, who is having a fairly
stellar season, was the first finisher in a very quick time of 3:06:46, this
time was less than 2:30 minutes away from the 2007 record, if Rob keeps
improving as he has been then it may only be a matter of time before he
captures the record.
Murray Strain (HBT) came in a very creditable second place
after finishing third at the Eildon 3 hills race the day before, James Harrison
was a good third leading Corstorphine AC to the team prize (ably supported
by Tom Ferrington & David Hall).
The womens title was comfortably won by Moira Davie (Forres
Harriers), she ran a very good 3:57 to win by over 24 minutes from Rachel
Newstead (London Heathside), local lady Christine Campbell (Cairngorm Runners)
closed out the top three. The ladies team prize was a very tight Tayside/Angus
battle with Forfar (Shauney Watson, Donna Pass & Elizabeth
Milne) edging out Dundee Hawkhill and Arbroath Footers.
A very good duel for the V40 title was clinched by Donald Kerridge
(Deeside Runners) on the main road through Aviemore beating Billy Gibson
(Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) by a mere 16 seconds, noted orienteer David
Godfree (Forth Valley Orienteers) rounded out the top three in finishing 12th
The ladies V40 honours were clinched by Allie Chong (Giffnock
North AC) whilst finishing fourth lady overall, well travelled Clare Hansford
(Axe Valley Runners) ran strongly to finish second and Corri Black of the wonderfully
named Donside Chainsaw Club was the third V40.
The omnipresent Alan Smith (Deeside Runners) outsprinted the first
lady in Aviemore High street to claim the V50 prize in under four
hours, he decided to race at the last minute to help cure a wee hangover! David
Weir (Forres Harriers) came in about 12 minutes down in second place whilst
Steven Morrison (Unatt) was the third V50.
Alison Paterson of Stonehaven Running Club scored a good victory
in the V50 section in around 5:20, closely followed by Maureen McInnes (Garioch
Road Runners) and Cosmic Hillbashers’ Sue Savege.
The mens V60 prize was won handsomely by Charles Ritchie of
Tarland (Cambridge & Coleridge AC) in just over 5 hours, Iain Thomson of
Strathearn Harriers was second with Gordon Main (Nairn RR) edging out Ron Milne
(Forfar Road Runners) for third in a photo finish!!
Deeside Runners would like to thank all the marshalls, the sweeper
(and Poppy the dog), mountain rescue and helpers who make this race
possible and all the entrants who contributed to the overall atmosphere of the
Proceeds of the race go to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and
in a one-off donation to assist Mar Lodge with rebuilding their infrastructure
which was badly damaged during the terrible flooding on Deeside during December
Lairig Ghru race 2017 – a record breaking event
in more ways than one.
With a record 221
competitors toeing the start line at the Old Police Station in Braemar and the
weather conducive to good distance running, spirits were high amongst those
Once the obligatory
safety measures were completed they were off, slightly behind time, which may
have scuppered someone’s chances of making the 1400 train from Aviemore back
home (I did think that a tad ambitious – no names)!
The men’s field had
several standout entries but Murray Strain was the clear favourite. He showed his class
and form of this year by not only winning the race but in being the first
person to break three hours (2:58:10) for the event and taking over 6 minutes
off, what was, a very strong record.
There was a headwind for part of the route; therefore, making Murray’s
time all the more commendable.
Hamish Battle ran a
very good race to place second and his running lived up to his name judging by
the state of his knees at the end, lots of blood but mostly superficial. Rowan Boswood moved up a place from last year
and dropped 10 minutes from his time to gain a very good third place with
Christopher O’ Brien in fourth edging out first MV40 Jack Trevelyan.
Second MV40 was David
Wright about 5 minutes later followed by MV40’s Cameron Watson and then Ayron
Comber, both under the four hour mark.
Adrian Davis came home
as first MV50 in a very creditable 13th place in 3:43:59, he was one
of three MV50’s to go under four hours, Donald Kerridge & Graham Kirby
being the others.
Raymond Corbett had a
comprehensive victory in the MV60 category in a very good time of 4:38:41,
beating Ron Milne and David Nightingale respectively.
The ladies race was a
much closer affair with Joanna Zakrzewski and Georgia Tindley running strongly
at the front, Joanna had the lead heading from the Pools O Dee but fell and
bumped her head (good thing she is a race doctor).
Georgia then lead them
through the forest at Rothiemurchus until the road section at Coylumbridge
where Joanna’s road running prowess proved decisive in allowing her to pull away
and win by just over a minute in 3:53:27, coming in third was the current
record holder (and FV40 record holder) Lucy Colquhoun in a decent time of 4:09:02,
she was also second FV40 behind Joanna, I think you nearly gave it justice Lucy.
Lucy was closely
followed by Fiona Maxwell who smashed the FV50 record by well over 6 minutes in
a great time of 4:12:24, next in was Fiona McDonald who was third FV40 a few
Shona Mackie and Zoe
Harding had a good battle to be second female senior with Shona edging it by a
minute or so.
Shona Young and Rachel
McCuaig both had good runs, well under 4:45 to be second and third FV50
Metro Aberdeen (Hamish
Battle, Iain Manson & Chris Richardson) won the Men’s team event, whilst
Hunters Bog Trotters won the Ladies (Georgia Tindley, Katie Walling & Zoe
Honourable mentions must
go to the two super dogs who competed with their humans (Jack Ward & Tom
Martyn), great times for both but I think Tom’s dog might have had way too much
energy left at the end. It’s just as well we know that Tom is a better athlete
than his time suggests or I might have had to disqualify him for canine
We had 219 finishers,
which is a tremendous result, mind you once you get to near halfway there is
little point turning back, even more so if your kit is in Aviemore!
As always, great thanks
must go to all the marshals/helpers/kit checkers/sweepers/caterers and
photographers, all from Deeside Runners, without them the race simply would not
We are grateful for
the assistance shown to us from the estates that we cross during the race,
especially Mar Lodge.
Special thanks to OMM
for supplying the spot prizes that I struggled to give away at the prize giving
and to both Cairngorm Mountain Sports and the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore for
allowing us to use their car park and supplying such lovely cakes.
Thanks also to bus
company, Bremner’s of Aviemore for their usual speedy delivery of tired
athletes back to Braemar.
thanks to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team who man the checkpoint at the
Pools O’ Dee highpoint in the race (2733’) for what probably seems like
hours. A significant portion of the race
profits go to aid the team in their endeavours in keeping us safe in the hills.
This year was the 43rd edition of the Lairig race, the entries opened in mid-March, all 250 spots sold out in about 20 minutes, this was partly down to the Adventure Show effect and judging by the race numbers in other races, partly the popularity of hill running, long may it continue.
As always there was a high quality field
in the men’s race, established hill runners, quality road runners and even an
Australian ultra-running champion.
For the 237 runners who set off from
Braemar with high hopes of reaching Aviemore, the conditions for the race were
close to ideal bar the early headwind which became a helping wind later in the race
with a welcome rain shower or two and a temperature conducive for running.
The men’s race went off at a healthy pace
and it soon became apparent that Jonny Crickmore (HBT) was the man to catch, he
took control fairly early on and never relinquished the lead, his winning time
was an excellent 3:02:41 which was the second fastest time ever. He looked remarkably
fresh at the end and was very low key about his achievement.
Behind Jonny there was a pack of 3 very
different runners, Chris Richardson (Metro), Jason Kelly (Metro) and Brendan
Davies (Team Inov-8). Chris had achieved a sub 2:30 marathon this year and was
newish to the world of hill running. Jason has been improving quickly over the
last couple of years and was keen to do well and to beat Hamish Battle’s time
from last year. There was also Brendan Davies (Team Invo-8), there is not
really enough space in the report to do justice to Brendan’s racing CV but I
will just say he is the reigning Australian Male Ultra Runner of the Year and
was a worthy late edition to the race as an add on to his Scottish holiday.
The pack of three remained tight until the
quicker running through Rothiemurchus forest where Chris, who expected to be
strong here, dropped off the pace to eventually finish 4th in a
highly respectable debutant time of 3:17:18. Brendan and Jason pushed each
other along the Coylumbridge road and through Aviemore high street where
Brendan put in a final burst to take 2nd in 3:14:38, Jason following
him in 15 seconds later, thereby taking 3rd and also beating Mr
Battle’s time from last year.
Brendan not only finished 2nd
but took the V40 record into the bargain, this record had stood for more than
25 years and was held by our much missed club mate Ben Preece who passed away
earlier this year, I think Ben would have approved of Brendan’s racing style!
The V40 race was a tight affair with less
than 2 minutes covering the top 3 (excluding Brendan), Iain Carroll (Giffnock
North AC) running a great time of 3:39:33, just over 30 seconds later Scott
Fraser (Lomonds) crossed the line with race veteran Brian Bonnyman following
about a minute later.
The V50 race had two outstanding
protagonists in Donald Kerridge (Deeside) and Kenneth Davidson (Moorfoots),
with the evergreen Donald prevailing in 3:52:37, Kenneth also handily broke the
four hour barrier, Graham Kirby (Fife AC) rounded out the top 3 with a 4:16:50
The V60’s were, as always, super
competitive, Richard Toller (Dundee RR) held on for a good win in 5:16:15,
Robert Atherton and Kerry Gordon were seen to be racing neck and neck, weaving
through the bemused afternoon shoppers and tourists, Robert just pipped Kerry
as they recorded the same time, 6 minutes down on Robert.
The ladies race was between two athletes,
Kerry Prise (Metro) and Katie White (Garscube Harriers). What the front end
lacked in quantity was certainly made up for in quality. Kerry’s sister Siobhan
had won the West Highland Way race the previous weekend so familial pride was up
for grabs. Katie has a top quality marathon time to her name and has
represented England in mountain running.
The two ladies battled throughout the race
with Kerry coming in first, looking surprisingly fresh (there is a theme here
for winners), her time of 3:42:28 was one of the top 5 times recorded by women
in the race, Katie came striding through to record 3:45:11 which is likely to
be the fastest any woman has run the race and not won.
Lisa Johnstone rounded out the top 3 in a
shade over 4:30.
Insch Trail Running Club have in recent
years taken to the race in increasing numbers and it was heartening to see two
of their ladies, Ros Baxter and Jacoline Dey occupying 1st and 2nd
places respectively on the FV40 podium, Ros’s time of 4:31:26 was exactly 12 minutes quicker
than Jacoline’s, Ros finished 4th overall. Frances Britain from
Forres Harriers completed the leading trio in a time well under the five hours.
Susan Brown (Deeside) has been improving consistently
and would have been even more pleased if I had got the FV50 results correct and
awarded her 1st place instead of 2nd on the day,
apologies Susan! Karen Young had a good
run to finish 2nd with Donna Pass a creditable 3rd in
The FV60 race had two competitors, Ann
White (Garscube Harriers) and Patricia Whitelaw (2 Dash). Ann lead home in
impressive style, even more so when you understand that she fell a couple of
times around the half way mark, was bloodied and bruised but finished strongly.
I paraphrase, but she told me what else
could she do but carry on. Her time of 5:19:48 would have won the FV50 race but
more extraordinarily was a new FV60 record by almost exactly 30 minutes. A
successful day out for the White family with daughter Katie taking 2nd
overall. Patricia clocked a very good time as well, just a shade over 6 hours.
An honourable mention must go to Brian
Howie (Carnethy), he completed the race in 3:40 in 1993 and was finishing again
this year at 68 years of age.
Due to a computer malfunction the results
were done the old fashioned way and there was not time to accurately calculate
the team results.
Insch Trailing Running Club (Ros Baxter,
Jacoline Dey & Rachel
took the ladies prize handsomely from Carnethy and Garioch Road Runners.
The Male team award went to the host club
Deeside (Donald Kerridge, Jamie Ross & Peter McFadzean) who pipped Carnethy and Metro by a couple
of points. Jamie well deservingly cracking the four hour barrier and Peter just
28 seconds shy.
The next Deeside counter, Dirk Wallis almost succeeded in wrestling back the family record for the race but this still stays with his wife Sally, next year Dirk! NIck Mardall rounded out the male Deeside contingent in a sub 4:40 time, safe to say the hat was in place. Lois McCulloch made the short journey from Queensland for the race and completed it in under six hours which is pretty impressive considering she had wee Murdo not that long ago.
As always, this event cannot take place
without the hard work and support of numerous people, thanks to Mar Lodge and
Rothiemurchus for providing the access to the estates willingly, to the
Mountain Cafe for the fabulous spread, Bremners of Aviemore for getting
everyone back home, Braemar/Cairngorm Mountain Sports for the number
sponsorship and use of their car park, Braemar Village Hall for the use, the
Braemar Gathering committee for the use of the car park/toilets, and Cairngorm
Mountain Rescue for providing the hill support.
Most of all I would like to thank all my
club mates, others from local clubs and anyone else I have forgotten to thank,
who willingly gave their time to assist in organising the event, without the
volunteers these events cannot take place. I am sure all the competitors would