Moray Pryde caused a major upset when powering to an impressive victory in the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon in a time of 2hr 22min 4secs.
The 28 year-old, from Broxburn, wasn’t quoted among the pre-race favourites but scythed a remarkable nine minutes off his previous best time to take the top prize.
The Lothian Running Club member started cautiously then worked his way through the field, catching long-time leader Tom Charles (Chorlton Harriers) just before the 23-mile mark.
He then picked up the pace and sprinted home looking as fresh as he did in the opening stages.
Charles had to settle for second position in 2:24:05 while Inverness athlete Shaun Cumming (Highland Hill Runners) took third spot in 2:30:35.
Pryde said: “I’m quite new to running but I’ve done six marathons now.
“My first one was here in 2019 when I ran 2:51:04 then I improved to 2:40:43 last year.
“My best time before today was 2:31:48 at London in April, so I’m definitely heading the right way.
“I must credit my coach, Owen Williams, who has got me organised. I’m now training regularly, rather than casually, and that has made a big difference.
“My aim today was to be in the top five and get under 2:30, so I’ve done much better than expected.
“I was lying in about fifth position for a while, but then started picking people off on the hills.
“The guy who had been leading was well ahead but I eventually passed him between 22 and 23 miles.
“I had a bit left at the finish so started sprinting to see if I could get under 2:22, but just missed out.
“I’ll now aim for next year’s London marathon with the aim of going under 2:20.”
‘He ran smarter than me’
Runner-up Charles wasn’t too despondent despite appearing to have victory in his grasp for so long.
He said: “I didn’t know that he (Pryde) was catching me but he managed the race better than I did. He ran smarter than me.
“I thought the pace was fine with the wind at our backs but obviously it caught up with me in the second half.
“But, I’m 10 minutes faster than last time I ran here. And, I’ve got the Amsterdam marathon in a fortnight, so hopefully I can do better there.”
Third-placed Cumming was satisfied with his performance, saying: “I ran as well as I could.
“I missed three months of training at the start of the year and I’m only just getting back into it.”
Gibson celebrates 90th marathon in style
Melissah Gibson loves to run marathons and celebrated completing her 90th outing over the distance with a fine victory in the women’s division.
The Ealing Eagles club member came tantalisingly close to setting a personal best time, missing out by three seconds when clocking 2:43:45, which is the third quickest time in the 21-year history of the race.
She said: “Running marathons is my favourite thing to do and this has been a good year as I’ve now done 10 or 11.
“I competed in Oslo two weeks ago and ran 2:46 and the week before that I did Tallinn in 2:51. These were good preparation for Loch Ness as they were hilly courses.
“Today’s race was so good, it was well organised, the route is beautiful and the volunteers were great.
“It’s the first time I’ve been here because it has always clashed with other races in previous years but I’d like to do it again.”
Bruce’s new target is a personal best
She wasn’t too disappointed after coming so close to her best time, saying: “I just missed it but I’m happy.
“I’m running in the Chester marathon next week so maybe I’ll get a personal best there, or, in the York marathon after that.”
Edinburgh-based Irish runner Doireann Hughes secured a lifetime best of 2:56:03 when finishing second.
It was only her third marathon and this was by far her best.
She said: “I ran at Manchester in April and did 2:59:15 then Edinburgh in May where I got 3:00:22.
“So, I’m very happy with today’s performance. It’s such a good event and the course is beautiful – it takes the pain away.”
Bnachory’s Rosa Donaldson (Glasgow University), who held second position for the first 18 miles, struggled badly over the later stages but battled bravely to hold onto third spot in 3:02:40, just 29 seconds ahead of the fast-finishing Carolyn Hay (Mansfield) who was first in the over-50 age division.
Abernethy celebrates biggest win of his career in River Ness 10k
Max Abernethy scored what he believes to be the biggest victory of his career so far when taking top spot in the Baxters River Ness 10k.
The Fraserburgh athlete has competed in this event on a few previous occasions and has always done well, but nothing beats the feeling of winning and the broad smile on his face after crossing the finishing line told its own story.
Abernethy sprinted home in a personal best time of 30min 10sec to finish 21 seconds ahead of Alastair Marshall (Central AC) with the 2022 winner, Lachlan Oates (Shettleston Harriers), third in 30:46.
He said: “I’ve done this race quite a few times, but never been able to win it until now.
“But, I think I’ve run a personal best time every year I’ve been here and today I knocked more than 40 seconds off my previous best.
“It’s definitely my biggest win and I’m absolutely delighted.”
Tactics paid off for Broch runner
The Fraserburgh runner was content to allow Oates to set the early pace before taking control of proceedings.
He said: “Lachlan went hard from the start and I just sat in for the first mile or so.
“I took a turn at the front when we ran into the wind, then I pushed on when we hit a downhill section and kept it going.
“Ally Marshall came with me and Lachlan dropped back. Ally and I were together from then until we got to the bridge with about a mile to go when I got away.
“But I thought he was right behind me all the way so I just kept going as hard as possible.
“I’d have liked to get under 30mins, but that’ll come eventually. I’ll definitely be back again to defend my title.”
Abernethy will now turn his thoughts to the cross country season with an outing in the Scottish short course championships at Lanark later this month topping his agenda.
A return to the Armagh 5k in February, where set a personal best time this year, is also in his plans.
Bruce secures women’s 10k title in style
Claire Bruce echoed Abernethy’s sentiments by declaring her fine victory in the women’s race to be her most significant achievement since taking up the sport.
The Metro Aberdeen club member led from start to finish, completing the course in a lifetime best of 34:46 to finish ahead of Catriona Fraser (Inverness Harriers), 35:58 and teenager Caitlyn Heggie (Inverness Harriers), 36:25.
There was little doubt over the outcome as Bruce raced into an early lead which was never challenged.
She said: “I went out fast from the start and I was pretty consistent throughout.
“I made up a bit of time on the downhills then just kept it going. I didn’t look back, just kept looking forward.
“This race was definitely a target for me. I decided not to do an autumn marathon so I could concentrate on speedwork over the summer.
“I got a personal best 5k and now I’ve got a personal best 10k. My previous best time was 35:28 so it’s massive personal best.
“It’s the biggest win I’ve enjoyed and I’m absolutely delighted. I have competed here before, but that was quite a long time ago.
“I’d not long taken up running and my time was over 40mins.”
Bruce also took some satisfaction from finishing ahead of boyfriend Scott Adams who was timed at 35:39.
She added: “I’m sure he’ll let me off with getting the better of him.”
Bruce doesn’t plan to take much of a break after this success as she has many other events to focus on.
She said: “I’ve got a few weeks to prepare for the Scottish trail running championships then I’ll do some cross country before preparing for a Sprig marathon, hopefully at London.”
5k wins for Roy Taylor and Lois Macrae
Buckie athlete Roy Taylor blasted his way to an impressive win in the Baxters River Ness 5k, completing the course in 16min 52secs to finish ahead of a field of 1400 runners.
The 17-year-old Elgin AAC middle distance specialist was delighted with the result which came just a few months after recovering from surgery.
He said: “My appendix burst in the first week of the school holidays and it took me five weeks to recover.
“But I bounced back and managed to get a sub 2min time for the 800m at the national track championships, which I was pleased about.
“I came here hoping for a personal best 5k time and although I didn’t quite manage that, I’m still happy.
“I last took part in this race when I was 10, so it has been a while, but I love the course, it’s really good.
Douglas McDonald and Gary Mellish finished second and third respectively behind Taylor.
Personal best for Macrae
Scottish under-15 800m record holder Lois Macrae (Inverness Harriers) was the first girl to finish, taking a magnificent second position overall, in a personal best time of 17:20.
It’s the second year in a row that the 14-year-old Millburn Academy student has taken top spot and her time marked another significant improvement on her previous best.
She said: “I’m more than 30secs faster than before so I’m really pleased. I think this is at least the fourth time I’ve done this event and it’s so much fun, I really enjoy it.”
Macrae will now turn her attention to the cross country season following a successful summer track campaign during which, in addition to her Scottish record, she won the English 1500m title and broke a series of Inverness club records.
Jessica Needs (Aberdeen AAC) was runner-up for the second year in a row and Hayleigh Reid (Young Meldrum Runners) took third spot.