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 overall.
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 race.
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 2015.