Finlay Wild will try for six out of six in Ben race
HUNDREDS of people from all over the UK and beyond will race up Britain’s highest mountain on Saturday.
The Ben Nevis race, officially founded in 1951 with a field of 21 runners, now welcomes 600 athletes annually, all running the ascent of more than 4,000 feet to the summit and back again.
Not for the faint-hearted, rules state that competitors must reach halfway to the top in one hour or they will be turned back, as will anyone who doesn’t reach the summit in two hours.
Of the field, more than 100 will be local, recognised by their distinguishing white and blue Lochaber Athletic Club (LAC) vests. Nestled among them will be last year’s winner, Finlay Wild, who will try again to beat Kenny Stuart’s fastest time of one hour, 25 minutes and 34 seconds, held since 1984.
Although the Lochaber doctor has never broken this record, Wild set his own last year when he became the only competitor to win five years in a row.
It’s not only winners who will be hoping for silverware, as seven competitors have also set their sights on a coveted Connochie Plaque, awarded to those who complete the gruelling challenge 21 times. The prize is awarded in honour of Kathleen Connochie, who stunned spectators in 1955 when, at age 16, she set off in the race two minutes after the main field, after being forbidden to compete by the Scottish Amateur Athletic Organisation.
Despite Kathleen’s efforts, it wasn’t until 1978 that women were officially allowed to run the Ben Nevis race. This year, Mandy Goth of Todmorden Harriers, West Yorkshire, will be the first woman to receive a Connochie Plaque, if she completes the race on Saturday.
Now an event for all the family, festivities at Claggan park start with a shinty tournament at 10am and a six-a- side football festival, starting shortly after the field set off at 1pm.
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FIVE IN A ROW: Finlay Wild celebrates winning the Ben Nevis race for the fifth year running, the only person to do so, at last