Cooper and Howie reach the tops at Bennachie
Strong win for local GB ultrarunner and first for newcomer making his mark
Inverurie’s Garioch Roadrunners were delighted to welcome runners back to their annual event, the Bennachie Hill Race, yesterday afternoon.
Now in its 31st year, the event attracts both hill and road runners from the North East and beyond because of its friendly atmosphere, fantastic scenery and fully laden cake table – replaced this year with Covid-friendly take-away goodie bags.
Before being set off on the 8.25-mile race up to Bennachie's famous ‘tops’, the 116 runners who started the race shared in a round of applause in memory of local athlete Fiona Calder, a dedicated hill runner and much loved member of the Insch Trail Running Club, who passed away suddenly 10 days ago.
Dry, warm but slightly windy conditions saw Highland Hill Runner Robin Howie, who only moved to Inverness from Yorkshire a few months ago, cross the line first, in an impressive 58.27.
But despite being new to the area, Howie has already made his mark on the North East hill running scene, winning the Cairn William Hill Race – the first event in the Aberdeenshire Hill Race Series, of which Bennachie is the second – the day before.
runABC Scotland asked a very pleased Howie what the biggest difference was between running in Yorkshire and Scotland. He said, “When you’re running out in the hills in Yorkshire, you’re never really far from a town or village. When you run up here, you really can be out there on your own.”
More familiar with the Aberdeenshire hills was the first female home, GB ultrarunner and local resident Meryl Cooper, who came third in the last edition of the women’s event in 2019. Speaking after the race, Cooper told runABC Scotland that she was surprised by her win, given her recent efforts at the UTMB. She added, “But I wasn’t far off my last time, so I’m pleased with that.”
Race Director and Chair of the Garioch Roadrunners Gordon Orr said, “It was so good to be able to welcome everyone back to the Bennachie Hill Race. What I’ve noticed most today – and what our marshalls have been telling me – is just how happy everyone has been. Even at the top of the longest climb, people have been smiling, and just so happy to be racing again. We’ve been delighted as a club to give them that opportunity.”
Full results can be found via runABC Scotland's incomparable race listing page.
Image: Garioch Roadrunners