13 Sep

Record Breaking Monster Success

Sally Gunnell and Gavin Hastings get set to take on a Monster Challenge

The First Monster relay challenge and Iron Monster events were a fantastic success this weekend, with course records being smashed in both events. Steve Boyd, firm Cults, Aberdeen, took an incredible 45 minutes from the Iron Monster 120km time, while 'Monster Munches' beat teams firm Sally Gunnell and Gavin Hastings to win the Relay challenge, shaving eight minutes from the course record.

The 'Monster Munchers', from Inverness, finished in a time of 5 hours 27 minutes. Two of the four members of the team have tasted Monster success before. In fact team captain Kenny Riddle (44) and vice captain Paul Rodden (39), have finished victorious at each of the four First Monster events.

Kenny Riddle, is a former Commonwealth Games athlete, having cycled for Scotland in the 1994 Games in Victoria, Canada in the Cycling Road Race event. He also triumphed last weekend at the World Duathlon Championships in Edinburgh. He said: "I am gob-smacked that we've won again. It's always a tough field and very difficult to win. All four of us live in the area so we have an added advantage in that we know the course really well."

Completing the 'Monster Munchers' line up was Eleanor Reid (34) and Henry Blake (31), both from the Inverness area. Eleanor was part of the successful 2009 team and although Henry has taken part in Monster before, this was his first opportunity of competing with Kenny and his team.

Former Olympic gold medalist and world record holder, Sally Gunnell, assembled an impressive team line up for the event, which included, her husband Jon Bigg (himself a former athlete) and two fitness fanatics from Sussex. 'Team Gunnell' finished in 40th place out of a field of 235 teams in a time of seven hours and two minutes.

Sally Gunnell battles the course and the conditions as she takes on her running leg

Speaking after the event Sally Gunnell, who was competing for the first time, said: "I really enjoyed mysef out there. The course is the most scenic I have ever seen and the organisation was first rate. I knew it would be a tough event, but I didn't quite appreciate the size of the hills!"

She continued: "40th place is not too bad considering our background - I'm a sprinter and hurdler and not quite cut out for long distance runs and cycles. The running leg was great and I thought I did really well to hold my own. The bike was really tough - but I dug deep and only dropped only one place."

"The winning team were untouchable," added Gunnell. "However the most important element of the race was raising money for charity and in particular Save the Children - hopefully we can beat last year's total of £170,000."

Meanwhile, Gavin Hastings and his team from First in Scotland East finished in 96th place in a time of seven hours 35 minutes. Unfortunately, due to an ankle injury, Gavin was unable to run and so a late replacement was called in. "The injury was a blessing in disguise," said Gavin. "I've not been able to run properly for a few weeks and so I'd have been well off the pace. My replacement, Robert McAlpine from Edinburgh, was fantastic and got us off to a great start. Fortunately I was still able to do my cycling leg and was reasonably happy with my time."

Gavin was taking part in the duathlon event for the third time. "As ever, it was a great day. The weather turned good after a rainy start, the atmosphere tremendous and I'll be back next year, hopefully injury free."

Steve Boyd (40) from Cults, Aberdeen, triumphed in the Iron Monster - an event that sees competitors tackle the entire 120km course solo. He said: "I set out to win the event - it has been my goal all year - so I am delighted with my performance." Steve smashed the course record by some 45 minutes finishing in a time of six hours 44 minutes.

The First Monster Challenge, which has been officially accredited by the British Triathlon Foundation, consists of teams of four. Each competitor is required to complete two legs of the eight-legged event - one 10km run and one 20km cycle. Full results can be found here.