New face at the race Chris claims Speyside ultra record
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DETERMINATION against the odds is the stuff of ultramarathons and so it was on Saturday for the record-breaking winner of the eleventh Speyside Way Race.
Much the same could be said of the ultra itself, with the Covid pandemic forcing the 37-mile race from its usual end of August slot to November 14. The current restrictions were to out many Central Belt-based runners.
However, that was of little consequence to Aberdeen metro Chris Richardson (30) who smashed the four-hour barrier and claimed the course record with a time of 3.56.51. A thrilling finale looked to be in the offing between Richardson and Jason Kelly, but the former pulled out in front near Fochabers. Kelly finished in 4.03.29.
Any dreams of retaining the Speyside Way ultra title were shattered for last year's winner, Elgin native Grant Jeans, who crossed the line in 4.19.55.
The first female runner to take the tape was Nicola MacDonald in 4.53.11 for an overall seventh place.
It was indeed a day of triumph for Richardson, who not only won the race by smashing the course record but revealed that the Speyside ultra was indeed his first ever race at that distance. The victor's family were on hand to greet him as he flopped gratefully on the grass after being congratulated at the finish line by race director Kyle Greig.
Richardson said: "It feels just great to have won and broken the record, too.
"That wasn't something on my mind at the start!
"It was very competitive and I was with Jason [Kelly] right to about Fochabers. I'm not sure what happened to him – maybe he had trouble with some of the muddy conditions – but I pulled ahead after that.
"This is my first ever ultra so it's been an amazing day – I'm glad I came!
"Hopefully I'll make it back next year to defend my title."
For Greig, who took over last year as race director from Sarah-Louise Cull, it has been a baptism of fire thanks to Covid-19 as safety restrictions and uncertainty over how the tier rules would affect the race drove a horse and cart through the old certainties.
"In the end we had around 90 runners start, which is excellent when you consider the circumstances," Greig continued.
"Unfortunately, I had to message about 50 runners to say that they were out of contention for this year's race due to the new Covid tiers in force over parts of the country.
"Congratulations go to Chris for not only winning the Speyside Way Race ultra but also breaking the four-hour barrier – he's done an excellent job!"
Greig went on to thank all those who had volunteered their time to make the race happen, especially amidst the uncertainty which has followed the event as the pandemic has unfolded.
For the full results, visit www.speysidewayultra.co.uk