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Athletics: US Space Force officer is the surprise winner of Speyside Way 35-mile race

Katie Scheibner won the Speyside Way 35-mile race.
Katie Scheibner won the Speyside Way 35-mile race.

American runner Katie Scheibner has pledged to return to the Moray area after enjoying an unexpected but thoroughly deserved victory in the Speyside Way 35 mile ultra-distance race.

The 23-year-old, who comes from Minnesota, completed the multi-terrain route from Cragganmore to Buckie in 4hr 56min 3sec to lift the women’s title when finishing 12th overall from a field of 100 competitors.

Scheibner is a cyber officer in the US Space Force, but has been living in Scotland since last summer after winning a Marshall Scholarship – a highly prestigious award made to only a small number of US nationals each year, allowing them to study in the UK.

She made a late decision to take part in the Speyside race after being inspired to enter by a couple of her running companions.

She said: “I’ve been based at St Andrews University for the past year, working for a masters degree in international security studies, but I’m just about to relocate to Oxford University.

“I graduated with a computer science degree from the US Airforce Academy at Colorado Springs in 2020 and was then given permission to come to the UK to further my studies.

“A couple of my friends in St Andrews  signed up for the Speyside race a few months back and I joined them on some of their training runs. They were talking about it a lot and it sounded like a lot of fun, so I decided to go with them.

“I had never run further than 26 miles before, but I loved it. The route was beautiful, with stunning scenery, which meant I hardly noticed the miles rolling by.

“I was surprised to find I was in the lead and I kept expecting someone to pass me, but it never happened.

“My prize was quite different. It’s a wooden stool made, I believe, by someone who lives along the route. Apparently I keep it for a year, get my name engraved on it, then pass it back for the next winner.”

Katie Scheibner sitting on her new stool – her prize for victory.

Scheibner took up running when she moved to Colorado as a student and has since competed in a handful of marathons, including Boston – where she ran her best time of 3hr 17min.

She said: “Before that I played ice hockey and football, but in Colorado everyone seems to run so I gave it a go.”

“At the moment I train six days a week and run 40-50 miles.”

Although she is moving to Oxford before returning to the US to take up active duty service with the Space Force, Scheibner is keen to return north.

She said: “Although I’m to be based in England, I still plan to come back to Scotland to try some other ultra races, maybe one of the other Moray ones.

“I’m keen to meet up with my running friends from St Andrews so we can do them together.”

Katie Scheibner.

More than 500 head to Huntly races

Bryan Smart  was a clear winner of the half marathon at the Huntly Room to Run races, which attracted more than 500 competitors to the Aberdeenshire town.

The Metro Aberdeen runner completed the challenging course in 1hr 25min 38secs, while Euan Wilson (Insch Trail Running Club) was runner-up in 1:29:39 and his clubmate Graham Aitken took third position in 1:32:36.

Gemma Horne led the way in the women’s division of the race, clocking 1:43:15. Chantel Clark (Dundee and Angus Canicross), who was third when the event was last held, in 2019, was 24secs behind, and Natalya Zuyeva (Canicross Aberdeenshire) finished third in 1:45:20.

Alasdair Steel (Stonehaven Running Club) retained the men’s 5k title when recording 16:30. Mark Beagrie (Peterhead) was second in 16:45 and the 2019 runner-up, Eddy McCluskie (Metro Aberdeen), had to settle for third in 16:50.

Inverurie Academy pupil Rhian Birnie (Young Meldrum Runners) was first home in the women’s division of the 5k race when finishing 10th overall from a field of 161 in 19:56.

Alison Pilichos (Metro Aberdeen) was runner-up for the second time in a row, 21:00, while Sarah Dingwall finished third in 21:58.

There was a clear win for Rory Brand (Garioch Road Runners), who completed the 10k in 41:49. Graham Stephen (Moray Road Runners), 42:39, and Russell Whyte (JS Kintore), 43:17, occupied the other podium positions.

The 2019 runner-up, Amy Muir (Stonehaven Running Club), stepped up to top spot on this occasion to win the women’s race in 47:49. She was followed by  Natalie Leask, 50:16, and Susan Naysmith (Newburgh Dunes), 50:24.

Edwards romps to new Aberdeen parkrun record

Myles Edwards was in record-breaking form at the Aberdeen parkrun.

The Aberdeen AAC member clocked 14min 57secs for the 5k course along the city’s beach promenade to cut seven secs off the previous standard set by Sean Chalmers (Inverness Harriers) in June 2019.

Aberdeen’s Myles Edwards.

Edwards finished well clear of his closest challengers, with Jamie Coventry finishing second in 17:47 and his Metro Aberdeen clubmate Daniel Warrick third in 18:13.

Elaine Wilson set a PB 19:43 to lead home the women’s division of the run when finishing 13th overall from a field of 307.

Emma Jenkins was second (21:13) and Vivienne Bruce (Metro Aberdeen) third (21:17).

Fraserburgh’s Max Abernethy also hit top form when smashing the Elgin parkrun course record.

The Aberdeen University student sped round the Cooper Park course in 15:17 to scythe 12 secs off the previous mark set by Scotland international Kenny Wilson in April 2019.

Katja Blunden, in fifth position overall from 259 participants, was first woman in 18:34.

Meanwhile, Argentinian Matias Arguello Narganes scored his second north-east win inside eight days when taking top spot in the inaugural Glack trail race near Dunecht.

The Aberdeen-based runner, who won the Chris Smith memorial 5k at Daviot the previous weekend, completed the testing 8k trail around Glack hill in 36min 04secs.

Mark Bell was runner-up in 36:55, while Matthew Drummond took third spot in 40:17.

Laura Murray, who finished ninth overall from a field of 177, led home the women’s field in 43:20, followed by Elina Zalkalne (44:43) and Anna Jackson (45:28).