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Newcomer Patton races to fastest time

By SPP Reporter

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Sandy Christie and Gary Angus make their way along the John O’Groats trail run route.
Sandy Christie and Gary Angus make their way along the John O’Groats trail run route.

THE third trail run of the winter series saw North Highland Harriers taking the race to John O’Groats.

On what turned out to be a beautiful November morning, 33 runners competed over two distances.

The shorter four-mile route took runners out from John O’Groats along the coast then up the steep climb to a turning point just past the lighthouse. The runners then had the reward of the long downhill back to the coast path and the stunning views as they headed east back towards the village.

The longer six-mile route continued on from the four-mile turn point to cut across the headland and out past Duncansby stacks. The runners then cut cross country back to the coastal path with all of them successfully managing to negotiate the bogs that in previous years have seen competitors ending up knee deep in soggy peat.

After the long downhill run to the coastal path, there is a temptation to try and maintain that pace, but the last section of the run is a sapping 1.25 miles long with undulating obstacles to be negotiated.

For those who had misjudged their pace, this resulted in some very tired but relieved runners arriving back at John O’Groats delighted to be welcomed with the reward of a hot drink and home baking.

A number of the runners were tackling a trail run for the first time and all seemed pleased with their efforts. Of these, Carolyn Swanson and Ruth MacDonald took on the shorter course. Carol Spencer requires special mention as, having previously attended the trail runs and "done her own thing", she completed the shorter course along with the other nine runners.

Also new to the trail series on the longer course was Richie Campbell and Graeme Bremner who were cutting their teeth on this type of event for the first time. Also a newcomer to this unique series was David Patton although he is an extremely experienced runner. He demonstrated this by setting the fastest time of the day, completing the course in 39.41 mins.

In second place was Kenny Patterson in 44.33 while third spot went to Dave Spencer (44.47), after driving back to Achraemie to retrieve his forgotten trail shoes.

He was not alone in managing to leave home without all of the required kit as Kevin Cormack also managed to forget his shoes.

Maintaining her unbeaten record in the women’s race was Joan Henry in a time of 47.40. Second equal were Emma and Oonagh Dunnett in 48.04. They continue to make good use of the trail series for their steady long run of the week.

Many other runners were seen to be making the most of the social element of the trail runs with Ruth MacDonald and Sarah MacKinnon completing the shorter course together in 40.23, and Graeme Dunnett and Rosie Murdoch again completing the shorter course in 41.40. Not to be outdone Sophie Dunnett and Les Mackay took on the longer course in 1.03.38 hr.

The next event takes place round Olrig Hill on Sunday with runners meeting at the Icetech Freezer Company, Castletown.

All runners must be registered by 9.45am and as well as the 6.5-mile loop, there will be flatter four-mile loop and plenty of company for anyone who wants to come along.

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