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 entered.
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 minutes later.
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 respectively.
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 Strong).
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 assistance!
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 continue.
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.
Finally, special 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.
Here’s to next year.