The perennial question of whether runners are faster than cyclists over a set course has been settled – at least for the next 12 months.
As previewed in runABC Scotland online last month, the annual ‘Harriers versus Cyclists’ race, organised by Irvine Running Club, was held last weekend (16 December).
This year was the 60th edition of the iconic event, which has been run on the last Sunday before Christmas since 1969.
Perhaps as a result of the anniversary, entries were reported to be up 15% on last year’s event, with three quarters of the field being runners.
Runners carried their dominance of this year’s race beyond the start list. After winning four of the last five editions of the festive event, including last year’s, the cyclists finally found themselves on the back foot.
First home over the five-mile, obstacle-strewn course over Irvine Moor was Calum McKenzie (Corstorphine AC), in a time of 26.22. McKenzie was nearly a minute and a half ahead of the second finisher, Irvine RC’s Billy Richardson (27.49). Third place also went to a runner, Kenny Neil (Ayr Seaforth, 28.05).
The fastest cyclist, David Hamilton, just missed the podium, with a time of 29:22. Only one other cyclist, Chris Shields (30.04), made the top ten.
Susan Rhodes, from Irvine Running Club, told runABC Scotland online: “The Cyclists v Harriers is a unique event. No other races offer a course where cyclists and runners cover exactly the same route.”
“Heavy rain – like we had on Saturday – and muddy conditions tend to favour the runners. And maybe that's why runners were the top three finishers this year.”
Kilmarnock Harrier John Speirs, who took part in the event, said: “The race was awesome fun. It was gloriously wet and muddy, and hilarious watching the cyclists trying to jump obstacles, run and carry their bikes up hills. Thanks to everyone who made it such a great day, especially the marshals and the cake makers!”