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Speyside Way Race ultra set to get under starter's orders on Saturday

By Alan Beresford

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A BUMPER line-up of quality runners are set to line up this Saturday morning when the 11th Speyside Way Race ultramarathon gets under way.

An earlier start start than normal is in store for the field, with competitors getting under starter’s orders at Cragganmore distillery, Ballindalloch at around 7am with the first home expected to cross the finish line in Buckie at approximately 11am.

The event had been due to take place in its usual slot of the last Saturday in August but concerns around the ongoing Covid pandemic caused the race organisers to plump for the later date.

It has been an eventful ride so far to say the least for race director Kyle Greig, who is taking over the reins of the Speyside Way ultra from Sarah Louise Cull, who resurrected the competition back in 2010.

“We’ve got 150 runners signed up for the race, which is our maximum capacity, so we’re absolutely delighted especially after everything which has happened this year,” he said.

“It’s been staggering how many requests we’ve had to take part and as things stand we’ve a really strong field lined up.

“In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s the strongest field we’ve ever had for the Speyside ultra. Robbie Simpson, who’s a bronze medallist in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games has signed up and it’s a real coup to have him on board. We’ve also got Moray runner Kenny Wilson and Jason Kelly.

“There could well be a good chance the course record will fall this year.

“I think this is due at least in part to so many other races being cancelled during the last few months, but whatever the reason we’re delighted to welcome them all, old faces and new runners.

“It’s all very exciting.”

Since opting to go with the November 14 date there has been a lot of hard work and crossed fingers for Greig and his team as Covid-related regulations governing what can and cannot take place have changed, including the three-week partial lockdown during the second half of October into early November.

He continued: “We have been working very hard to make sure we have all the appropriate Covid safety measures in place although the fate of the race this year has ultimately depended on what happened elsewhere across Scotland.

“Bus provision to the start has been a big challenge; we have needed a lot more due to social distancing, which has cut each bus’s capacity by about 50 per cent.

“There’ll be no spectators this year although obviously our safety marshals will be there as usual.

“It took a while to get here but we’ve managed it.

"I certainly never expected all of this when I took over as race director!”

More race information and updates are available on the race website at www.speysidewayultra.co.uk or on the event Facebook page.

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