On Sunday (17 April), Mid Argyll Triathlon & Cycle Club (MATCC) holds its annual Crinan Puffer 8.5 mile (13.5 km) point-to-point running race, named after what is probably Scotland’s best-loved class of small ship.

The canal-side route takes competitors through some of the finest scenery on the West Coast of Scotland, from Pier Square in Ardrishaig, to the finish line at photogenic Crinan.

Crinan Canal
Crinan Canal
Image © Copyright Gordon Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The course, following the banks of the Crinan Canal throughout, has a total ascent of just 75 feet (23 metres).  As a result, runners are expected to set a good time for the distance.

Stirling-based aquaculture company Scottish Sea Farms is sponsoring the event this year and until 2013.

MATCC spokesman Richard Barrie says: “The Club is delighted to be associated with such an enthusiastic and committed sponsor, and we thank Scottish Sea Farms for its support.  The boost which the company’s sponsorship brings to the event will ensure years of competitive running in Mid Argyll”.

Barrie is convinced that the flat (but scenic) route, and the fact that the event is located within sight of Dunadd  –  the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada  –  are unique selling points when it comes to attracting entrants.

A runner himself, he’s aware that his fellow competitors thrive on the scenery as they near the finish line, and he believes that the attractions of the immediate area  –  the working Highland canal,  the Mid Argyll Pipe Band pipers playing at points along the route on the day, and the waterscape of the Add Estuary  –  combine to offer a unique family day-out.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, the weather forecast for Sunday is favourable, predicting sunshine and 13° C.

Last year, 90 competitors took part in the inaugural staging of the race, and this year the organisers set a limit of 150.  At the time of writing, only 6 places remain unfilled, and Barrie believes that this confirms “the continued popularity of middle distance running, bridging the gap between a 10k run and a half marathon”.

This year’s Crinan Puffer will be particularly significant for Inveraray B&B owner Fee Corner (46).  She is currently receiving chemotherapy, having recently been diagnosed as having breast cancer.  A keen and established runner with a self-evident positive outlook, she decided to compete in Sunday’s race in order to raise funds for the Mid-Argyll Hospital Chemotherapy Unit and Breast Cancer Care.

It’s noteworthy that her inspirational approach to her situation doesn’t stop there.  With the chemotherapy due to continue until the end of May, she has opted to fundraise further by competing in two other challenging Argyll races whilst still receiving her current treatment.

On Sunday 8 May, she’ll take part in the annual Inveraray Jail Break  –  a 4-mile hill race involving 236 metres of ascent.  And on Sunday 29 May she’ll run in the Mull Of Kintyre 10k at Campbeltown.

Anyone wishing to make a cash donation towards the Mid Argyll Hospital Chemotherapy Unit can do so in person to Fee at any of her races.  Alternatively, such donations can be sent to her at Claonairigh House, Bridge of Douglas, by Inveraray, Argyll PA32 8XT.  Her contact number is 01499 302160, and her website and blog are at

Those wishing to donate to Fee’s fundraising for Breast Cancer Care may do so online at

The 2011 Crinan Puffer will start at 1000 hrs at Pier Square, Ardrishaig, and finish at Crinan Basin.  Prize-giving will take place at Crinan at 1200 hrs.

The organisers suggest that the best en route viewing points are at Cairnbaan Bridge, Dunardry Locks, and Bellanoch Bridge, but point out that the liveliest action is likely to take place approaching the finish line, where there are bound to be some last-minute shoulder-to-shoulder sprints.

Sunday’s race is promoted by Mid Argyll Athletic Club, supported by British Waterways and MATCC, and sanctioned by the sport’s governing body scottishathletics.

The event will benefit Mid Argyll Community Pool and Mid Argyll Athletic Club.

The Crinan Puffer’s sponsors, in addition to Scottish Sea Farms, are Storvik Ltd, The Co-operative Membership, Mid Argyll Council on Alcohol and Drugs, Argyll & Bute Council Road Safety Unit and Thomas Tunnock Ltd, and MATCC acknowledges the assistance it has received from Strathclyde Police, the British Red Cross, and British Waterways, in relation to planning the event.

In the wake of Sunday’s race, MATCC will look ahead to its MacQueen Bros Mid Argyll Triathlon 2011, which will take place on Sunday 25 September.  In this, the 10th anniversary year of the Mid Argyll Tri, 150 competitors, from first-timers to elite Scottish triathletes, will vie for honours.  The entry list opens in May.

(Editor: Mid-Argyll & Kintyre News wishes Fee Corner all the very best with her efforts  –  both fundraising and athletic  –  on Sunday, and on 8 and 29 May.  Her resolve and positivity are truly “inspirational”, and guaranteed to lift the spirits of fellow-sufferers)

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