Strath Harriers ace Comrie Relay Huge success for local team in fundraiser
Strathearn Harriers hosted another successful Simon Wake Comrie Hills Relay on Sunday.
The event raises money for pancreatic cancer charities and is named after Simon Wake, a keen runner and Harriers member who died of pancreatic cancer in 2008.
The race takes a demanding route from Comrie up Glen Lednock via various twists and turns, ascending Crappich Hill and Ben Chonzie before finishing back at Laggan Park via Lord Melville’s Monument and the De’il’s Cauldron.
The whole route covers 43 kilometres with 2110 metres of ascent, and is a major event on the hill-running calendar, attracting teams from all over Scotland.
Weather on the day was challenging, with strong winds, rain and poor visibility, which caused some significant navigational consequences, particularly on the tougher Legs 2 and 3.
With a new look team of youngsters, Strathearn Harriers took the honours in the men’s race, with a very good time of 3.42.00, while the Harriers Ladies team won the women’s race.
For the men, Aaron Dawson put in a very solid shift on Leg 1 in 52.46, with club captain Andrew Aitken and Leg 2 specialist Phil Mestecky making good use of local knowledge on the tricky Crappich Hill leg to take the lead at the halfway point.
Ben Murphy had the stern task of the steady pull up Ben Chonzie and ran well for his time of 1.19.15 in third place. Scottish under-20 champion Sol Sweeney had some time to make up on HBT and Ochil Hill Runners, but did so in some style to finish the final leg in 41.54, just six second shy of the record for the leg.
In the women’s race, Sonja McFadden set the tone with the fastest women’s Leg 1 in a very good time of 59.02, handing over to Ruth Clark and Emily Greaves.
Local knowledge again played a part, with Ruth and Emily also setting a fastest leg time before sending Greta Dargie on her way up Ben Chonzie.
Greta made full use of her strength on the hills to record an excellent 1.22.33 to overhaul Carnethy and put the women’s team in first place. Greta also set a fastest leg time. Maddy Watson took over the last leg and set yet another fastest leg time to bring the women’s team home in 4.20.20.
Strathearn Harriers also took first place in the Mixed Vets event and second place in the Mixed event, where ladies club captain Nicola Watson led the way with a solid 1.07.53, handing over to Doug Flint and Jim Alexander on Leg 2 – setting a second-best leg time.
Hill veteran Iain Thomson worked hard for his Leg 3, handing over to late stand-in Janine Grant to bring the team home in 4.50.55.
Andrew Irvine led the Mixed team with an excellent 57.42 on Leg 1, handing over to the experienced pair of Fran Loots and Rachel Gallagher on Leg 2.
Andy Gallagher took on Leg 3, with Lauren Fairweather finishing the race, making up nearly eight minutes on the team ahead, which just happened to be the Harriers Mixed Vets team. Seven seconds separated the two teams at the finish.
There were Harriers race debuts for Ben Murphy, Sol Sweeney, Greta Dargie, and Andrew Irvine who all performed with great commitment and set some cracking times for their legs.
Other local interest came with two team from RTS Forestry, with some fine runs and a good race between themselves to finish just three minutes apart.
Race organiser Kerry Sweeney expressed her thanks to everyone who helped with the event.
She said: “Without those who run it, marshal it, mark it out, break it down, cater and order food for it, strim the bracken, transport the essentials from the lock up, time it, compile the results, provide the PA, bake for it, man the parking for it, cheer the runners on and the landowners who allow us to use their land the race would just not happen.”
A club spokesperson said the Harriers were very appreciative of the support given by the landowners, residents and The Famous Grouse for their support.
See www.strathearnharriers.org. uk for full results.
• Pics: Cathy Tilbrook/ Mirela Macinnes.
Quickest time Fastest Leg 2 runners Phil Mestecky and Andy Aitken
Success The winning men’s team in the Simon Wake event
Shield The winning ladies team in the Comrie Hill Relay