Skye half-marathon draws the crowds

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A GERMAN visitor on a week’s holiday in Scotland took the title of 2017 Scottish Salmon Co Isle of Skye half-marathon champion
at Portree on Saturday.
Oliver Spaeth of Stuttgart breezed across the finish line at the high school with a time of 1:14.10, 2.34 minutes in front of the second placed runner, Graham Bee of Inverness Harriers (1:16:44) who also won the Scottish Athletics North District Championship, hosted in Skye this year for the first time.

Ladies winners from the half marathon. Picture Sara Bain. F24 Skye hlaf marathon 2no SB
Ladies winners from the half marathon. Picture Sara Bain. F24 Skye hlaf marathon 2no SB

Skye’s half-marathon titleholder Hugh Campbell of Skye and Lochalsh RC was advised not to take part in Saturday’s race. Not fully recovered from a hamstring injury, the five times winner of the race ignored his physio’s warnings to come a very respectable third place in the Skye half-marathon and second in the North District championships with a time of 1:16:52.
Hugh said: ‘I had a bit of an injury and am not quite as fit as I would like to be. I ran a very tactical race but my legs just couldn’t find the strength to last the miles. Under the circumstances, I am very pleased with today’s result.’
There was local success in the women’s section when Iona Craft, from Skye and Lochalsh RC, was the first lady to cross the finish line with a time of 1:32:08. Second was Avril Pearson of Livingston (1:32:51) and third was Sarah Attwood of Knavesmire Harriers with a time of 1:32:55.
Around 750 runners from all over the world turned out on a wet and windy morning to complete the punishing 13.1-mile course in what is considered to be one of the world’s most scenic races.
As well as an event that sees competitive runners taking part for trophies, the Skye half-marathon also attracts a large number of individuals who have personal tales to tell.
Eight-time winner of the race and the current record holder for the most consecutive wins was Simon Axon, running for Hunters Bog Trotters. Simon first ran the half-marathon in 1986 and Saturday’s event marked his 1,000th race. He said: ‘It felt a very long way but it was probably my fastest for a few years, so that’s fine.’

Children took part in the half marathon at the weekend. Picture Sara Bain. F24 Skye half marathon 3no SB
Children took part in the half marathon at the weekend. Picture Sara Bain. F24 Skye half marathon 3no SB

Also running on the day was 80-year-old old Angus Nicolson from Uist. This was his 487th half-marathon, counting 100 miles of 10Ks. He started running when he was 49 and his goal of 500 marathons is in his sights. Saturday was his 12th Skye half-marathon and the unstoppable Angus is off to the Isle of Barra in two weeks to take part in the Barrathon.
A number of ladies from Skye who had never run before decided to start a Facebook group a year ago. They called themselves the Skye Ladies Run and competed in the island’s half-marathon for the first time this year. Their efforts paid off as they won third in the ladies’ team prizes.
David Heggie from Lewis made a mammoth effort to take part in the race. Part of sponsors Scottish Salmon Co’s team, David cycled from Lewis, ran the course and then cycled home again.
The morning’s children’s race was well supported by eager runners and cheering parents. First across the finish line was 13-year- old Joe Jones, followed closely by 11-year-old Ross MacLeod. Third was Jamie MacKinnon, aged 12.
Joe’s eight-year-old sister Tabitha was the first girl to come in.
Sue Cox, director sponsors Scottish Salmon Co, said: ‘This is our first time here and it has been brilliant. We have several of our own people taking part in the race, all of them from different parts of Scotland.
‘It is important to us to invest in our local communities and we are delighted to be supporting the Isle of Skye half-marathon. There are over 100 volunteers here all playing their part in helping the day go smoothly and we are so pleased to be a part of such an enjoyable event.’
Mark Crowe of Skye Events, which organises the Skye half-marathon, said: ‘The event went very well with 750 runners all completing the course. We got really good feedback from everyone and the weather didn’t turn out too bad either.
‘I believe, in total, we had about 120 volunteers giving their time on the day and the committee would like to thank everyone who turned up to help. In particular, the local police, Coastguard, Brownies, Skye and Lochalsh Pipe Band and Rotary Club did a fantastic job. We are pleased to say that we intend to give at least £2,500 back to the community groups who supported us. We would also like to thank our major sponsors Scottish Salmon Co, for giving us the means by which to run the race on a more professional level.
‘The Isle of Skye half-
marathon has come a long way in 34 years and is growing year on year in size, status and professionalism. Our sincere thanks go to everyone who has helped us achieve this.’
Results and prizes
Top five males – Oliver Spaeth 1:14.10 (TVZell); Graham Bee 1:16.44 (Inverness Harriers); Hugh Campbell 1:16.52 (Skye and Lochalsh RC); Ruairidh Campbell 1:18.41 (Arbroath Footers); Fraser Stewart 1:19.04.
Top five females – Iona Craft 1:32.08 (Skye and Lochalsh RC); Avril Pearson 1:32.51 (Livingston); Sarah Attwood 1:32.55 (Knavesmire Harriers); Lisette Walter 1:34.44; Catherine Harris 1:35.43 (Team Angus).
Local prizes – Skye male: Hugh Campbell; Chris James 1:25.09. Skye female: Tina Schuman 1:46.29; Lesley Campbell 1:48.38.
Men’s team prizes – Hunters Bog Trotters: Ewan Crawford 1:20.41, Ray Ward 1:20.46, Andrew Cummings 1:26.20. Skye and Lochalsh RC Hugh Campbell, Chris James, Sandy Laing 1:29.49 Stornaway R and AC: John Macaskill 1:26.36, Andy McMahon 1:30.19, Paul Hadley 1:44.51.

Ladies team prizes – Skye and Lochalsh RC: Iona Craft, Lesley Campbell, Sam Crowe 1:50.10 Hunters Bog Trotters: Claire Ward 1:42.53, Lucy Taylor 1:43.41, Rachel Heathcote 1:55.48 Skye ladies run: Pauline Walker 1:52.55,
Helen Day 1:53.19, Fiona Rennie 1:55.16.
Age categories male – 40-44: Ray Ward 1:20.45; 45-49: Ruairidh Campbell 1:18.41; 50-54: Andy McMahon 1:30.19; 55+: Christopher Creegan 1:31.09.
Age categories female – 35-39: Iona Craft; 40-44: Claire Ward 1:42.35; 45-49: Avril Pearson; 50+: Heather Akers 1:40.27.
Scottish Athletics North District Championship
Senior men – gold: Graham Bee (Inverness Harriers); silver: Hugh Campbell (Skye and Lochalsh RC); bronze: Chris James (Skye and Lochalsh RC).
Masters men – gold: John Macaskill (Stornoway R and AC); silver: Alex Turner (Skye and Lochalsh RC); Bronze: Christopher Smith (Moray Road Runners).
V50 – gold: Andy McMahon (Stornoway R and AC); silver: Philip Owens (Garioch Roadrunners); bronze: Paul Hadley (Stornoway R and AC).
Senior women – gold: Iona Craft (Skye and Lochalsh RC); silver: Ros James (Skye and Lochalsh RC).
Masters women – gold: Marianne Wilson (North Highland Harriers); silver: Lesley Campbell (Skye and Lochalsh RC); bronze: Sam Crowe (Skye and Lochalsh RC).