A Wild decade for Ben Nevis Race

BEN RACE WINNER 7/9/19 Top Ten for Finlay Wild who celebrates his tenth consecutive win of the Ben Race. PICTURE IAIN FERGUSON, THE WRITE IMAGE

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As the sun shone on Claggan Park, Finlay Wild, 35, marked his tenth victory in a row for the annual Ben Race with a time of 01:32:05.

With over 450 competitors this year, the race up Ben Nevis on Saturday September 7 was led by Mr Wild of Lochaber Athletics Cub from the moment the runners left Claggan Park.

The Lochaber native celebrated his birthday on Sunday making his tenth win a great achievement. He said: ‘This race for me really is special having gone to Lochaber High School as well as living and working locally. The Ben Race has a real prestige in the UK because it’s the biggest mountain and it suits my running style because I like rough things but there’s a lot of clearer running too.

‘Absolutely delighted to get the 10, never dreamed that it would be possible but everything lined up perfectly this year.’

First three LAC runners across the line (left – right) John Yells, Finlay Wild and Callum Fraser. PICTURE IAIN FERGUSON, THE WRITE IMAGE

Coming in with a seven minute lead on the second place finisher John Yells, also of Lochaber AC who managed to get a time 10 minutes better than his previous best, Finlay didn’t want to risk injuries to get the course record.

He said: ‘I was born the year the record was set, 1984, so obviously it would be a great achievement to get that. My personal best of last year was very close, but with it not being a British Championship this year, very busy with walkers and having a good lead at the top, I wanted to just make sure I got the 10.’

The first lady was Sarah Graham of Mourne Runners, Northern Ireland. She said: ‘I started fell running about two years ago. I got married to my husband last month, he’s been doing this for the last 12 years so we thought it would be a good time for me to do my first.’

Ben Race Ladies’ winner Sarah Graham of Mourne Runners. PICTURE IAIN FERGUSON, THE WRITE IMAGE

Mrs Graham, who came in with a time of 02:12:21, was being careful because of the heat. She continued: ‘I wish I had a cap for the sun but, my husband will tell you, what gets me up the hills is just straight stubbornness.’

The race also saw Roderick Pugh, Gordon Pryde and Brian McBurney receiving the Connochie Plaque, meaning they have completed 21 Ben Nevis Races.

While the runners were away the crowd got to watch a Shinty match between Kilmallie Shinty Club Juniours and Inverlochy School.

Kilmallie won 14-2 to an Inverlochy side missing three key players, but organiser and Inverlochy coach, Robert McMillan, has plans for the future of the event. He said: ‘This used to be a tournament of six local teams taking place on the day with a final during the race. We want to do that again if we can get more teams involved.’

BEN RACE SHINTY The young teams from Inverlochy and Kilmallie who played in the schools’ shinty tournament at the Ben Race. Picture Iain Ferguson, alba.photos
BEN RACE SHINTY The young players from Inverlochy and Kilmallie played a hard and fast game in the Ben Race tournament. Picture Iain Ferguson, alba.photos

For organisers, Ben Nevis Race Association, everything went smoothly on the day. Chairman, Michael Whitehead said: ‘Fantastic result for Finlay who received a standing ovation at that evening’s prize giving. Nice to see Sarah Graham winning the lady’s trophy on her first attempt as well as a lot of younger runners.’