More than 5,000 runners went the extra mile as the 23rd edition of Run Balmoral took place for the first time since 2019.
Sean Chalmers (Inverness Harriers) and Ginie Barrand (Metro Aberdeen) stole the show with outstanding record-breaking performances at the sun-kissed opening day of the meeting.
Scotland international Chalmers was in sparkling form in the Harbour Energy 5k, taking an early lead which he extended all the way to the finish, completing the circuit in 14min 24secs to scythe 18 seconds off the previous record set by fellow Scotland international Kenny Wilson (Moray Road Runners) in 2018.
Lachlan Oates (Shettleston Harriers) was second in 14:57, six seconds ahead of Fraserburgh’s Max Abernethy whose time is a personal best for this distance.
World over-65 age group record holder Alastair Walker (Teviotdale Harriers) won the over-60s title when finishing 11th overall from a field of 623 in 17:20.
Scotland international Naomi Lang (Aberdeen AAC) stamped her authority on the women’s race, winning in 16:43 while Metro Aberdeen’s Claire Bruce, a two-time previous winner of the 10k (2018 and 2019), stepped down in distance to set a personal best time of 17:34 in second position.
Nicola Gauld (Metro Aberdeen), the 2013 and 2016 10k champion, was third in 19:13, three seconds ahead of her clubmate Sophie Radcliffe.
Barrand leads Metro clean sweep
Barrand’s performance in the Stena Drilling 10k was another highlight of what turned out to be a superb weekend during which large crowds of spectators cheered on the runners.
The Banchory-based athlete, who was bronze medallist in this year’s Scottish 10 mile championship, stormed round the testing route in 36:07, a time bettered by just two men in the field of 1,438.
It was Barrand’s fourth appearance in this race. As a relative newcomer to running, in 2014, she finished 22nd in 47:46 and the following year she was 48th in 48:04.
But by 2016 the French-born athlete who has lived in the north-east of Scotland for eight years, improved to take fifth spot in 39:52. Now she has moved to another level, her time being just 38 seconds outside her best set on a much flatter and faster road course.
Barrand led Metro Aberdeen to a clean sweep of the podium positions with Nicola Macdonald finishing second in 38:57 and Chloe Gray third in 41:28.
There was more success for Metro Aberdeen when Will Mackay romped to a comfortable victory in the men’s race – his second win at Run Balmoral over the past six years.
The former Scottish track champion clocked 33:46 while Sam Milton (Moray Road Runners) was runner-up in 35:36 with Jonathon Cordiner taking third position in 36:34.
Moira Davie (Forres Harriers) took home a bottle of whisky for being the first kilt wearing woman to finish, recording a fine time of 42:02 while Ian Thom (Metro Aberdeen) was the first kilted man in 46:01.
Emily Christie (Falkirk Victoria Harriers) showed impressive style to win the MPH primary schools girls’ race with a superb time of 5:54 which equalled the course record set by Rebecca Eggeling 10 years earlier. Alana McDonald (Banchory Stonehaven AC) was second in 6:18 while Ula Crawford (Banchory Primary) finished third in 6:23.
Leo Carrigan of Banchory was an impressive winner of the boys’ 1.5k, completing the out-and-back course in 5:47 with Austin McCaul (Robert Gordon’s College) second in 5:56 and Ross Macfarlane (Banchory) taking third spot in 6:07.
Alford Academy’s Ben Seath blasted his way to a fine victory in the AON secondary schools 2.5k, recording 7:36 to finish 11 seconds clear of Meldrum Academy’s Calum Strachan while Cameron Scott (Banchory Stonehaven AC) was a further two seconds behind in third position.
Metro Aberdeen’s Hope Thomson won the girls’ 2.5k, recording 8:22, seven seconds ahead of Jessica Needs (Peterhead Athletics). Rhian Birnie (Young Meldrum Runners) was third in 8:46. The 2018 and 2019 MPH primary schools champion, Beth Colins (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) was fourth in 8:51.
The Stena Drilling – Harbour Energy Corporate Challenge was won by The Harbour Harriers.
More records fall on day two at Run Balmoral
Sam Milton earned the prestigious Repsol Devil of Deeside men’s competition with a supreme couple of performances on the second day of the Balmoral race meeting.
The Moray Road Runners club member opened up by setting a course record of 1:18:54 to win the Apollo duathlon before sealing the title when finishing ninth in the Bristow 15 mile trail race.
That gave him a combined time of 3:49:52 for the 5k, 10k, duathlon and trail run while Ian Russell was second in 3:54:24 and Andrew Miles finished third in 3:57:35.
Laura Sarkis (Metro Aberdeen) surged into pole position in the final event to win the women’s title in the Devil challenge.
Jenny Stanning held a lead of more than two minutes after the opening three races but Sarkis overcame that in the 15-mile trail run to win with a combined time of 4:51:56.
Estera Zak came through for second position in 5:01:24 with Stanning slipping back to third in 5:08:46.
Great Britain mountain running international Andy Douglas (Inverclyde AC) extended his list of Run Balmoral honours by winning the Bristow 15 mile trail race in 1:20:31.
The Edinburgh-based Caithness man scored his first victory at the Deeside venue when winning the 10k in 2010. He has since added three more 10k wins and this weekend claimed his third 15-mile success.
Sean Chalmers (Inverness Harriers) recovered from his record-breaking performance 24 hours earlier, to take second spot in 1:22:40 while Scottish 100k champion Jason Kelly (Metro Aberdeen) was third in 1:34:44.
Deeside’s Sally Wallis won the women’s trail race title in 1:44:35 while the 2014 champion, Veronique Oldham (Cosmic Hillbashers), was second in 1:48:30 and Rachel Little (Insch Trail Running Club) took third in 1:51:05.
Lumphanan’s Laura Murray was the weekend’s fourth record-breaker when winning the women’s duathlon in 1:36:30.
Finn Hilton won the Bristow three mile trail race in 19:33 while Caris Strachan (Insch Trail Running Club) led home the women’s field in 23:52.