Sunday, September 11, 2016
Sunday 11 September dawned fine and bright, with a hint of cloud over the hills - ideal conditions for the annual Simon Wake Comrie Hills Relay. The event raises money for pancreatic cancer charities and is named for Simon Wake, a keen runner and Harriers member who died of pancreatic cancer in 2008. The race takes a demanding route from Comrie up Glen Lednock via various twists and turns, ascending Crappich Hill and Ben Chonzie before finishing back at Laggan Park via Lord Melville’s Monument and the Deil’s Cauldron. The whole route covers 43 kilometres with 2110 metres of ascent, and is a major event on the hill-running calendar, attracting teams from all over Scotland.
This year's race was won by a very strong team of James Waldie, Iain Gilmore, Konrad Rawlik, Eoin Lennon and Mike Reid from Carnethy Hill Running Club for the third year in a row. They set a strong early pace and were never matched, setting the fastest leg times for all four legs. They finished in a time of 3 hours 15 minutes and 38 seconds, a few minutes down on their time last year, but still within a very respectable 5 minutes of the overall record time set by Forres Harriers in 2013.
In second place was the Strathearn Harriers A team of Charlie Grimson, Aaron Dawson, Andy Greaves, Will Manners and Roger Goddard, finishing in a time of 3.40.09. Aaron ran very strongly on the demanding Leg 2 as he and Andy made up 6 places, with Will putting in his usual strong shift up and down Ben Chonzie to gain another 3 places with the second best Leg 3 time of 1.05.43.
Third place went to Stonehaven Top Dogs, one of four teams from Stonehaven Running Club, in a time of 3.43.31.
The women’s race was won by the Ochil Bochles representing Ochil Hillrunners, in a time of 4.25.58, less than a minute ahead of second-place team, the Westies Ladies from the Westerlands Cross Country Club in Glasgow, who finished in 4.26.28. The Strathearn Harriers Ladies A team of Sonja McFadden, Cathy Tilbrook, Rhian Evans, Emily Greaves and Maddy Watson were in third position, in 4.37.19. For Sonja and Maddy this was a Comrie Hills debut, and they both put in terrific efforts, with Maddy posting the second-best women’s time for the final leg.
The mixed race was won by the Kinross Road Runners team of Andy Laycock, Sarah Hutt, the evergreen Judith Dobson, Billy Webster and Allan Kemp, in a time of 4.02.28.
The Strathearn Harriers Mens B team of Jim McConnell, Doug Flint, Daniel Mestecky, Phil Mestecky and Mark Dillon finished in 9th position with a time of 4.13.33. The Harriers mixed team of Lauren Fairweather, Rachel Gallagher, Iain Thomson, Andy Gallagher and Janine Grant were 4th mixed team, with a time of 4.51.49. This was a team with real guts and determination - Lauren ran well beyond expectations on Leg 1 in her first relay in club colours, Iain and Rachel coming within a squeak of beating the 1-hour mark for Leg 2, Andy stepping in at late notice to take on Leg 3 and Janine also doing a terrific job on her relay debut
The Harriers Ladies Vets team of Nicola Watson, Alison Manners, Julia Greenlees, Ruth Clark and Dawn Gleeson were 4th women’s team in a time of 5.01.34, with Dawn making her Comrie Hills debut.
Other notable runs came from Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie, running the tough Leg 3 for Carnegie Harriers B team in a fine time of 1.19.42, and from Norman Smith of Kinross Road Runners, who at the age of 80 is showing that age is no barrier to having a fine day out in the hills.
Prizes were presented by race organiser Kerry Sweeney, and the prize-giving was accompanied by the now-traditional barbeque and an outstanding array of cakes. The race could not happen without a horde of volunteers to act as marshals, time-keepers and caterers, and the club is very grateful to everyone for all their efforts. The club is also very appreciative of the support given to the event by the local landowners and residents, and to The Famous Grouse for their support in providing prizes.