Road racing returns to Moray as Inverness Harriers' pair Sean Chalmers and Jenny Bannerman triumph in Back to Basics 10k at Forres' Benromach Distillery
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FORRES hosted the first north athletics 10k race since the Covid-19 outbreak – and it turned out to be a record-breaker.
Well-known local runner Paul Rogan organised the Back to Basics 10k over the Benromach Forres route, with some of the north’s top athletes invited to compete in an elite field.
Two waves of athletes set off at different times on Saturday, with guidelines in place following protocol from the Scottish Athletics governing body.
The race was won by Inverness Harriers’ Sean Chalmers, who produced the first sub-30 minute run in the route’s history and the first of his own career.
Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist Robbie Simpson of Deeside Runners had to settle for second place, while fellow Scotland international and Moray Road Runners star Kenny Wilson was third.
Winning the ladies’ race was Inverness runner Jenny Bannerman who was just six seconds off a female course record.
As north road racing took a major step back towards normality, Chalmers posted a course record of 29:55, also dipping below the 30-minute barrier for the first time.
He set off in close proximity with Simpson at a brisk pace and it was only with a mile to go that the Aberdeen-based PE teacher broke free. Simpson finished just seven seconds over the 30-minute mark and Wilson recorded a time of 31.22.
Wilson’s Scotland team mate Bannerman, the only woman in the faster wave 1, hung on at the back of a quality men’s field, finishing strongly but just outside the 24-year-old course record.
The next two women took top five places in Wave 2 and both set personal best times. Catriona Fraser (Inverness) ran 37:22 and Kirstie Rogan of Moray 37:36. The first athlete home in Wave 2 was Forres runner Steve Sharpe (35:59) followed by Andrew Rogan of Moray (37:08).
Chalmers, who took second place in the previous weekend’s Scottish Athletics short course cross country national invitation race in Perth, was more than content with his first foray below 30 minutes for 10K.
“I’ve been training hard for that for a long time, trying to get it. I feel I’ve been in sub-30 shape for a few months and was just trying to get the right race and it was good to have Robbie and Kenny out here today which made it a really quality field for a sub-30.”
The free-to-enter event was the product of a huge amount of work by organiser Rogan, who hopes that the event marks another step towards the return of competition.
“We’ve not organised races like this before in waves and so on and it’s all gone so well,” he said. “All the runners behaved really well and they’ve all done what the guidelines stated, which is really important. Off the back of this now, everything is in place and we can now move forwards to get more races organised through the clubs. Road racing is definitely on its way back. We’ve got this framework now, and we’ve proved that we can put these events on safely.”