Emotional journey as Gary conquers Ten Under the Ben

Gary MacDonald - 10 Under the Ben winner. Photograph: Peter Smith.

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Kinlocheven athlete Gary MacDonald, perhaps known better for his
successes on trials motorbikes, is also a formidable force using pedal
power – taking many trophies in top class events across the country.

He recently added to these accolades a lot nearer to home by coming first in the Ten Under the Ben Race where cyclists tackle a gruelling 10-hour race on cycle tracks around Ben Nevis with the winner recording the most completed laps over the period.

Without doubt the toughest mountain bike challenge in the country, this was only the third race Gary had tackled this year and although constantly working hard on his fitness, he was concerned he may not be at full strength.

However, determined as ever, he completed 12 laps, covering 111 miles and 1,4800 feet of climbing on rugged off road terrain. Overcoming two punctures and riding half a lap with a flat tyre, he went on to beat all comers taking the winner’s trophy 24 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

He said: ‘I am over the moon to win as I really felt my fitness wasn’t that great and coming off the back of Covid, but I kept at it. I lost so much time with the punctures and eventually had to go in for a wheel change a few laps later. I chose not to panic, just get my head down and I’m glad I just ground it out.

‘The last three hours were torture with rain, wind and a temperature drop to four degrees with huge fatigue which made shifting gears and controlling the bike a big issue.

‘I couldn’t have done it without Jo Doeg-Smith who is my inspiration to push myself beyond my limits.

‘It was her her first time back at pit duties and, along with her mate Katherine Ann Gall, did a wonderful job. I can’t thank them both enough.

Thanks also to absolutely everyone involved in putting on the race. It was an emotional rollercoaster but I loved it.’

Photograph: Gary MacDonald – 10 Under the Ben winner. Photograph: Peter Smith. NO_F26_GARY-MACDONALD-BY-PETER-SMITH_10UnderTheBen