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Bennachie race can 'boost local economy'

By Grant Milne

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THE organiser of Garioch’s first ultramarathon is confident that future races will attract runners from all over the globe, while proving a windfall for local businesses.

Team GB’s Kyle Greig was the inaugural winner of the Bennachie Ultra in 4:22, finishing 17 minutes ahead of nearest chaser Edward Payne, with first female Siobhan Killingbeck coming in at 4:53.

The 120 entry places for the 50k race sold out in a single day, with organiser Andrew Gordon admitting that the rugged track had received rave reviews.

“We’ve had brilliant feedback and hopefully that’s the first of many”, he said.

“We wanted limited numbers to ensure everything ran smoothly.

“There’s the D33 in March (Aberdeen-Banchory along the old railway line), it’s quite early in the year and quite flat.

“Now we have this run in October which is quite hilly and fits in well.

“Everybody travels to Ultras, and there’s nothing really equivalent to this in Aberdeenshire.”

He added: “I was delighted that Kyle ran it and Siobhan won the West Highland Way race this year too.

“Kyle is a fantastic runner and his feedback was very positive, he loved it.

“He found it a tough challenge but that’s what we wanted it to be.

“It’s a beautiful course but there’s a lot of climbs – 5000ft of elavation, it’s not easy!” Proceeds from the event have been split between the Bennachie Charity Trust and COTAG 4x4 Response.

Ultramarathons in the north-east, and Scotland as a whole, are somewhat of a premium. But Mr Gordon is now hoping that this inaugural success can spark a bigger and better event, which will have positive consequences for the area.

“The plan is definitely to grow it,” he added.

“The Forestry Commission have been brilliant with their support and we’ll have to continue to work with them in terms of the numbers.

“We kept it low-key in terms of promoting it and it was pretty much local to the north-east even though it sold out in a day, we didn’t have to push it much.

“Having got the first year out of the way, now it’s a case of trying to get the word out to get people up from all over the country and further afield.

“People coming from further afield will stay in hotels and B&Bs so it will surely put something back into the local economy.

“The support we’ve had from local businesses has been amazing.”

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