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Marathon effort helps Newlands cruise to Orkney win

By Matt Leslie

WICK athlete Bryan Newlands put last year’s runners-up spot behind him as he went on to win this year’s St Magnus Marathon.

The 37-year-old deftly battled the hilly Orkney course, which is Britain’s most northerly marathon, to cruise to a comfortable victory in 3hrs 03min 28sec on Sunday.

Robin Veersteg was second in 3.09.24 while Paul Allen was third in 3.09.57.

Last year, Newlands finished just more than 15 minutes behind Rye Runners’ Jeff Pyrah (2.56.05) in the 26.2-mile race, but he made sure he’d be the one receiving the winner’s medal this time around.

With athletes, the secret to success is usually special diets, new fitness programmes, focusing on special running techniques and many more handy tips.

However, Newlands – who represents North Highland Harriers (NHH) – shunned all that and opted for something a bit more basic: put on the trainers, give up smoking and alcohol, and give the pavements of Wick a pounding.

“I did it last year and came second and obviously the target for this year’s race was to go one step further and win it – which I did,” he said.

“I did train a lot harder this year. My preparation was simply just go out on the pavements and run, but also to add on a little bit extra distance each week.”

Newlands said he doesn’t follow any particular “race programme” and – outside of encouragement from friends such as NHH’s “Mr Motivator” Gordon Smart – he’s never been coached.

“It’s just a hobby of mine. I go out and just run to build up my fitness that way,” he said.

“No-one tells me what to do in terms of training or preparation. It’s just me and my own devices. I’m not being big-headed, but I’ve just got a way of doing things that works for me.”

As for the race itself, he said the course was “very hilly”.

He said: “You start from Kirkwall and run up the east coastline all the way to Birsay.

“About halfway through you encounter the hills, which becomes a real challenge.”

After six miles of leading the pack, he afforded himself his first look back.

“I noticed that there was no-one behind me,” he said. “I wasn’t celebrating early as there was still 20 miles to go and you can still lose the race.”

At the halfway point, however, his situation remained the same.

“Once I got to the hills, I thought I would have to stop if anyone was going to pass me so it felt good from that point on.

“Admittedly, it was in the back of my mind the possibility of someone – if they’ve trained right – coming from the back late on to catch up. Although you do hope that, in the event of that happening, you’ve enough in the tank to go away from the chasing pack again.”

Next month, Newlands, who works at Wick-based wholesalers Sutherland Brothers Ltd, will be swapping his running vest for an organiser’s hat as he will stage a 10km for charity.

“It’s a 10km race on Reiss beach and all proceeds will got to Motor Neurone Disease Scotland,” he said. “My grandmother died of that so I like to support the work that MND Scotland does. I don’t run in the race – I’m the ‘water-boy’ who organises it. Entry is £10 which is payable on the day.”

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