Mohammad Abu-Rezeq retained his Baxters Loch Ness marathon title on Sunday (24 September), but fell short of his target of breaking the course record at the Highland race. The Jordanian runner had held off an early challenge from veteran Kenyan athlete Isaiah Kosgei who was making a return to top level competition after six years on the sidelines.
Abu-Rezeq completed the course in 2:22:02, over a minute slower than he recorded last year, but the Altrincham-based runner was nevertheless delighted with the outcome. He said: “The Kenyan guy was good and he set off at a very fast pace. I began to get away, however, and by halfway, which I reached in 1:07:30, he was falling behind. After 15 miles I looked back and he was further back so I just kept pushing on. It was very hard though as I am not running so well as last year.
“I probably won’t do another marathon until next year when I’d like to come back here and try for a third win.”
Kosgei, who was racing for the first time since recording 2:13:49 for second place at the 2011 Alexander the Great marathon in Greece, had hoped to make a winning comeback but, after a bright start, the 42 year-old Kenyan faded. He was understandably race rusty and struggled badly in the closing stages, being reduced to little more than a walk by the finish. Kosgei could take some consolation by still managing fifth place in 2:34:24 to take first position in the over-40 age group.
Metro Aberdeen’s Kyle Greig, who was third in 2016, came through to take second place in 2:27:56 while Patryk Gierjatowicz (Hunters Bog Trotters) maintained his remarkable record of consistency by taking third position in 2:29:20. Gierjatowicz has now finished in the top three for each of the past five years but victory remains elusive for the Edinburgh-based Polish runner.
Inverary’s Lesley Pirie completed a notable Scottish marathon double when winning the women’s race in 2:48:10. The Victoria Park Glasgow runner, who won Stirling Marathon earlier in the year, was pleased with her time despite it being seven minutes adrift of her best.
She said: “My training hasn’t been going so well recently so I didn’t even expect to be as fast as I was. I found it really tough, especially the last 10 miles, but it’s a great event. I didn’t see any of the other women runners after the first couple of miles but there were plenty of guys to run with and they were good company.
“I am pleased with the way it turned out but I think I’ll take a break from marathons now as I quite fancy having a go at some ultra-races. I’m thinking about the 95 mile West Highland Way race next June but I haven’t decided for sure.”