A wry look – by Richard Barrie
The 10am start at Pier Square in Ardrishaig deterred neither the racers nor the large crowd of supporters, and Strathclyde Police closed briefly the A83 to allow the runners to start on the trunk road.
On the whistle, the pack was off, with the front-runners already battling to establish race position. Before long, everyone was on the banks of the Crinan Canal. Next stop: Crinan itself.
The slightly overcast, cool, and almost windless conditions were ideal for this type of event.
MATCC members were out in force to marshal the various road junctions and bridges along the route. Having a busman’s holiday were Mid Argyll Community Pool manager Mark Kelly, who handed out water at Baddens, and Health Visitor Dorothy Clark, who showed her caring side by doing the same at Barnakill.
There were running battles left, right, and centre, but these particular conflicts required no police intervention.
Out in front were Lyon, Barbour (Strathblane) and Docwra (Shandon) – the only barefoot runner – all setting a blistering pace. Just behind, were Law and Whiston (both Ardrishaig), and Morran (Campbeltown), who, for his 23 years, was an equal match for the two gnarly veterans.
Talented David McAlister (17) got out of bed early to represent Mid Argyll youth, sticking with those who should be wearing slippers as opposed to running shoes!
At the front of the field, the ladies were represented strongly by Thompson (Glasgow) and McCallum (Clydebank), both of whom were an equal match for most of the men.
Neil Souden couldn’t be persuaded to run; instead he led a team of six Red Cross volunteers. No major injuries during the event – just a few blisters, a strained ankle, and some emergency transport to the finish for one runner who couldn’t undo a stitch and therefore withdrew!
At Cairnbaan, the residents cheered on the racers. Followers and supporters, in a fleet of cars, stopped to encourage family and friends from the opposite bank of the canal.
Mid Argyll Pipe Band members, led by Struan Thorpe, played at various locations and stirred the blood of the athletes.
Lyon left Bute like a lamb and finished like a lion, crossing the finish line in first place. With an average pace of 6mins 02secs per mile, no one could match him on the day – but a mere 39 seconds separated 1st and 3rdplaces.
Meanwhile, Whiston was having pacing problems; his half-mile splits were all over the place, but he was making quick-paced slow progress in reeling in Law.
Morran took his opportunity, and overtook Whiston not far from the finish, but the wily dog was not going to roll over – as he bounded past the pup.
Morran’s attack was quashed and he had no response. Law could not be caught.
As official timekeeper, Mid Argyll Athletic Club’s Bill MacCallum had some inspiring times to record. He witnessed the elation and relief at the finish line, and he saw many happy faces.
Each runner received the now-traditional goodie bag.
The event’s lead organiser, Richard Barrie, thanked Scottish Sea Farms, Storvik Ltd, The Co-operative Membership, Mid Argyll Council on Alcohol and Drugs, Argyll & Bute Council Road Safety Unit, and Thomas Tunnock Ltd., for their involvement with the event.
He acknowledged also the work of the marshals and of the British Red Cross, the assistance of Charlie Greenlees and Colin Hunter with photography duties, and the invaluable support rendered by Anderson’s Coaches, Strathclyde Police, and Mid Argyll Pipe Band.
The runners and supporters were very responsive – a really good crowd – and treated the event organisers to some positive feedback.
MATCC member and breast cancer fundraiser Fee Corner presented the prizes at the end of her inspirational run. Donations on the day raised £280 for her cause – the Mid Argyll Hospital Chemotherapy Unit.
1st David McAlister (Mid Argyll) – 56:59
2nd William Salton (Mid Argyll) – 74:05
1st Claire Thompson (Glasgow) – 57:21
2nd Marina MacCallum (Clydebank) – 58:19
3rd Elena Adair (Mid Argyll) – 63:18
1st Shaun Lyon (Isle Of Bute) – 51:12
2nd Ian Docwra (Shandon) – 51:32
3rd Tommy Morran (Campbeltown) – 54:02
1st Fiona Greer (Old Kilpatrick) – 62:44
2nd Katie Ferguson (Campbeltown) – 65:04
3rd Fiona Irwin (Campbeltown) – 67:16
1st Hendrie Barbour (Strathblane) – 51:51
2nd Andrew Law (Mid Argyll) – 52:39
3rd Stephen Whiston (Mid Argyll) – 53:49
1st Elena Adair (Mid Argyll) – 63:18
1st Andrew Law (Mid Argyll) – 52:39