Thursday, June 19, 2014
The third Strathearn Marathon saw an exciting race between two fine athletes at the head of the race, and a whole clutch of terrific performances on what is becoming known as one of the friendliest and most scenic marathon routes in the country. Torrential rain on Saturday evening had drenched the race organisers as they set out the route signs, but Sunday dawned dry and bright, with only a few showers during the course of the race.
166 runners, along with friends and family, made their way to Cultybraggan Camp, with everyone from marathon novices running their first marathon, to experienced runners with many marathons under their belts. In the 30th anniversary year of the founding of the club, Strathearn Harriers were delighted to have the race started by Rob Bolton, founder member of the club
Last year’s winner Roger Van Gompel, of Dundee Hawkhill Harriers was back to defend his title, but didn’t have it all his own way this year. A leading pack of Roger, Scott Bradley of Carnegie Harriers, Graham Hedger, Alex Chambers of Garscube Harriers and David Houston of Shettleston Harriers was gradually whittled down to an epic sprint finish between Scott and Roger on the final run-in at Cultybraggan. Scott prevailed to win in a time of 2.44.42, with Roger just three seconds behind in 2.44.45. Third was Graham Hedger in 2.50.30. Race winner Scott Bradley is a previous winner of the 96-mile West Highland Way ultra and the 53-mile Highland Fling ultra, and it’s great to see athletes of his calibre at the Strathearn Marathon.
The women’s race didn’t quite see the same intense racing as the men’s race, but winner Victoria Hunter set a new women’s course record in the outstanding time of 3.07.30, beating her time from last year by six minutes. Fiona Ramsay, third last year, was second with another improved time of 3.17.21 and Debbie Martin-Consani, one of Britain’s leading ultra-marathon runners, was third in 3.28.26.
As well as attracting runners from all over Scotland and further afield, there was plenty of local representation. Will was first local man to finish, in a marathon personal best time of 3.00.43, with Chris Clarke second local, also in a new personal best time of 3.09.09. Andy Greaves, in training for the Celtman triathlon at the end of June, was third local man in 3.16.00. Wendy T was first local woman, finishing in 3.45.15, with Nicola and Elaine M sharing the honours for second local in 4.01.20.
In other notable performances, Strathearn Harriers were delighted to welcome Dave Parry, who chose the Strathearn Marathon as his 100th marathon. Dave ran with his daughter Sarah and completed the race hand-in-hand to a great reception from the spectators and supporters at Cultybraggan.
Ian Beattie, a former member of Strathearn Harriers and current Chairman of Scottish Athletics and race director for the West Highland Way race was running his 97th marathon, and commented on the race “I have to say that the organisation was superb, the marshals were amongst the best in the business, and the race proved once again why it is one of the top marathons on the circuit. Well done Phil Tipping and all of your team from Strathearn Harriers - it's a great event and one of which you should all be very proud.”
As is always the case with Harriers races, the runners were superbly supported by the volunteers at Cultybraggan and out on the course, who gave up their time and whose efforts were greatly appreciated by the runners. Extra support came from Rob Bolton and Willie Nicol of the Comrie Pipe Band, who popped up in all sorts of unexpected places around the route and gave the runners a great sense of occasion. Catering was splendidly provided by the Comrie Allotments, with their cakes getting special praise from the runners and further support was generously given by Crieff Hydro Leisure, Highland Spring, CDT, Comrie First Response and the Fruit Shop, Comrie. Race photography was provided by Gordon Donnacie.