Birthday boy Nicholas breaks Kintyre Way Ultra record

Men's solo race winner Nicholas Gemmell, left, and 4th placed finisher Mark Webster, who both celebrated their birthdays on Saturday.
Men's solo race winner Nicholas Gemmell, left, and 4th placed finisher Mark Webster, who both celebrated their birthdays on Saturday.

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This year’s Kintyre Way Ultra marathon champion had more to celebrate than just finishing in first place.

Nicholas Gemmell also smashed the course record, completing the 32-mile race from Tayinloan to Tarbert in four hours, 15 minutes and 36 seconds, beating last year’s record-breaking time by 38 minutes – all on his birthday!

Men's solo race winner Nicholas Gemmell, left, and 4th placed finisher Mark Webster, who both celebrated their birthdays on Saturday.
Men’s solo race winner Nicholas Gemmell, left, and 4th placed finisher Mark Webster, who both celebrated their birthdays on Saturday.

Ahead of last Saturday’s event, organisers watched the weather forecast change almost hourly and one thing was clear – that competitors were going to get wet and cold at some point during the day, it was just a question of where and when.

With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing, special measures were put in place to ensure the safety of competitors, organisers, marshalls and the community throughout the event.

The first section, which took runners north along the various beaches from Tayinloan, proved extraordinarily tough with headwinds and heavy rain. Never has the climb up to Clachan caused so much pain!

The normally glorious views of Arran from the middle section were hidden on Saturday with some runners experiencing very low visibility and just having to slog it out, while the hills around Skipness broke a few hearts but not spirits, with a high percentage of runners making it to the finish line in Tarbert, considering the conditions.

It wasn’t only Nicholas who broke a course record; Alexandra Kane, the first lady home in five hours, eight minutes and 26 seconds, set a new women’s record.

Alexandra Kane, the first lady home, smashed the women's course record.
Alexandra Kane, the first lady home, smashed the women’s course record.

The veteran 50+ men’s race was won by Angus Robertson in four hours, 57 minutes and 12 seconds, while Lesley McKerral was triumphant in the ladies’ veteran 50+ race in seven hours, two minutes and 47 seconds.

A race spokesperson said: ‘Thank you to all the runners and our wonderful marshals who were out in the wet and wild conditions – also to those who helped the few who found it a bit much and sensibly dropped out. More than 60 professional staff and volunteers took part.

‘Thanks to the local businesses for sponsoring prizes; Tarbert Hotel for catering, especially the reviving hot soup; Tarbert Harbour for the welcome hot showers and Darren’s lovely tables; rescue medics for dotting back and forth to check on the folk who dropped out; and to KitST whose timing and tracking service meant we could see where everyone was.’

Next year, organisers are hoping to ‘spread the love’ by running the southern third of The Kintyre Way from Campbeltown to Machrihanish and are asking anyone who would like to help in any way to contact them by emailing Suse Coon on suse@larickhouse.co.uk or Rob Reid on info@kinryreway.org

Results: Men’s solo race, sponsored by Kilkerran Single Malt: 1 Nicholas Gemmell 04:15:36; 2 Stephen Ross 04:35:00; 3 Alasdair Maciver 04:42:08.

Women’s solo race, sponsored by Beinn an Tuirc Distillers: 1 Alexandra Kane 05:08:26; 2 Laura MacDonald 05:19:20; 3 Maria Mott 05:46:01.

Veteran 50+ race, sponsored by Loch Fyne Whiskies: Male: Angus Robertson 04:57:12; Female: Lesley McKerral 07:02:47.

Relay teams, sponsored by Fyne Ales: 1 Relay Short Shorts 04:20:26; 2 Frigate Bound 04:29:39; 3 Auld Alliance 05:09:58.

The winning relay team, Relay Short Shorts.
The winning relay team, Relay Short Shorts.