Ross Houston finished just 11 seconds off the course record to win yesterday's Baxters Loch Ness marathon (Sunday, 30 September). In doing so the Central AC athlete picked up the Scottish men's national title for the second year in a row. On a day when more than 9,000 people took part in the Festival events including the River Ness 10K and River Ness 5K Fun Run, Houston finished the marathon in 2:20:24 despite running most of the 26.2 miles on his own. Impressive but not fast enough to break Kenya's Simon Tonui's record of 2:20:13 set in 2009. Aberdeen's Ben Hukins came through to take second position in 2:29:17 after a hard battle with Ronhill Cambuslang's Kerry-Liam Wilson who picked up the bronze medal in 2:30:36.
Houston said: "We were doing five minute miling for the first few miles which was probably too fast. I was on my own after about five miles, and that was quite hard, but despite that I still thought I could get under 2hr 20mins. From about the 20-mile mark, however, I found it hard and I just wanted it to be over. But it's another step forward for me and its great to win this race and the national title."
Avril Mason of Shettleston Harriers (pictured) ran a well-judged race to win the women's title in 2:54:54 which is a lifetime best by 23 seconds. She said: "I'm pleased to win, but to be honest I was hoping for a quicker time. The pace was too fast early on. I ran with Lisa Finlay and Jill Knowles for the first nine miles. I got away from Jill around the halfway mark and I was clear of Lisa after about 17 miles. It's nice to win the Scottish title as it's my first championship medal, and to be quite close to a personal best time is also pleasing."
Finlay (Dumfries Running Club), last year's winner, had to settle for the silver medal on this occasion, but took some consolation from running her fastest ever marathon time of 2:57:55.
Bellahouston Harrier Erica Christie has now competed in all 11 Baxters Loch Ness marathons, and maintained her fine record in the race by finishing first in the over-50 age group, 11th overall, in the women's division of the race with a time of 3:12:46. Another runner who has taken part in the race every year is Lucy Mackay of Bellahouston Roadrunners and she completed the course in 3:48:14. The midpoint runner was John Kidd of Hyde Park Harriers in 4:15:33.
Andrew Douglas (Inverclyde AC) from Halkirk in Caithness won an exciting Baxters River Ness 10K by recording 30 minutes 27 seconds to finish one second ahead of John Newsom (Central AC) while title-holder Kyle Greig (Forres Harriers) was third.
For a full list of results visit our race listings page.