Octogenarian birthday boy Les Nicol celebrated his success at the Scottish masters cross country championships with a glass of whisky and ginger ale.
The Metro Aberdeen stalwart turned 86 on race day and marked the occasion in fine style by picking up the gold medal in his age group.
There was only one other entrant in the over-85 classification, Teviotdale’s James Pittilo, but he was unable to make the journey north.
But that doesn’t in any way diminish the Torry man’s achievement. As the saying goes – you have to be in it to win it – and Nicol was up for the challenge.
He completed the testing 6k route around Bridge of Don’s Balgownie playing fields in 38min 14secs to finish ahead of six younger athletes.
Nicol said: “It was a good day, I enjoyed it. It was amazing how fast some of the runners were, but I just started at the back and went at my own pace.
“Afterwards I just went home and the rest of the day was fairly quiet. My wife had some cake for me and I had a glass of whisky and ginger ale. I like ginger ale.
“I’ve taken it easy since the race. I’ve been to the gym and did some work on the treadmill and rowing machine. I also did a bit of leg work.”
This latest success adds to Nicol’s impressive record at these championships over the years.
He struck gold at the 2010 event in the 70-74 category and followed that with wins in the 75-79 division in 2012, 2013 and 2015. He also pocketed gold at the 2018 British masters championships in Forres.
Aberdeen AAC’s Veronique Oldham was the north-east’s only other gold medallist at the championships, the hill running specialist picking up the women’s 55-59 title by completing the circuit in 25:41 to finish 72secs ahead of her closest challenger.
It’s her fifth gold medal in various age groups over the past 12 years, having won titles in the 40-44 division (2010), 45-49 (2016) and 50-54 (2017 and 2019).
Metro Aberdeen’s Jim Tole had high hopes of landing the men’s 45-49 gold, but after a bright start he slipped back to finish third at the end of the 8k race.
Central AC’s Scott Brember won in 27:06, followed by Andrew Davis (PH Racing Club) in 27:27, with Tole clocking 27:44.
He said: “I had a calf strain, which caused me to miss a few weeks training recently, and I think that caught up with me.”
Tole narrowly missed out on a team medal as Metro finished fourth in the men’s competition, the other scorers being Paul Knight (20th), Dino Roussias (28th) and Wayne Dashper (29th).
Metro Aberdeen runners occupied two podium positions in the 55-59 age group, Neil Kelly taking silver in 30:39, with Nick Milovsorov pocketing bronze in 30:53.
But there was another near miss for Metro in the men’s age 50+ team competition, with Kelly, Milovsorov and George McPherson taking fourth spot.
Fraserburgh’s Brian Urquhart took silver at 65-69 level and Cosmic Hillbasher Rod Campbell bronze in the 75-79 group.
JS Kintore won team medals in the women’s championships for the first time when Tammy Wilson (eighth), Roma McIntosh (27th) and Sonya Ledford (31st) earned bronze in the women’s 40+ race.
Metro Aberdeen finished fourth, with Julie Hendry (17th), Sarah Simpson (18th) and Jayne Addie (33rd).
North-east’s Purcell helps Edinburgh to British unis medal
Aberdeen AAC’s Kirsty Purcell helped Edinburgh University win team bronze medals at the British Universities and Colleges cross country championships at Horsenden Hill, Middlesex.
European under-20 champion Megan Keith (Inverness Harriers) led the way for Edinburgh by finishing third, while Holly Page (fifth), Hannah Anderson (27th) and Purcell (39th) completed the scoring.
Fraserburgh athlete Max Abernethy (Aberdeen University) was fourth Scot, 24th overall, in the men’s race.
In other action, Banchory Stonehaven AC’s Scottish indoor high jump silver medallist Claire McGarvey, in her first overseas competition, cleared 1.70m in an international meeting in Hustopece, Czech Republic.
Metro Aberdeen’s Hazel Wyness finished third in the women’s division of the Torremolinos half marathon in 1:33:55 (1:34:05).