Blue skies and warm temperatures greeted runners at this year's Castle of Mey 10K. 294 runners participated in the second running of the UK mainland's most northerly 10K on Sunday May 16, which saw the addition of a number of features: a race charity for runners who wanted to raise money for Maggie's Highlands; chip timing provided by Aberdeenshire Council; and a children's Fun Run.
The biggest change, however, was the relocation of the race's start and finish to the cannon area in front of the picturesque 14th century castle. This was in part due to a desire by race organisers to relieve some of the congestion experienced last year at the start and finish on the single-lane road leading to the castle.
Donna Stewart, a race organiser and a representative for the race's main sponsor AMEC, said, 'We were delighted overall with the changes to this year's race. There were some glitches, but this is only our second year and we're still getting things ironed out. Overall, I think things went really well.'
The race kicked-off with a pre-race warm-up led by Thurso fitness instructor, Kate Stewart. Participants then lined up for the 2 pm start with Lord Lieutenant of Caithness Anne Dunnet counting down to the pryro display that signalled the official race start. Local pipers Dave Chisholm and Mark Moodie piped the runners as they set off.
James Murray, the trust administrator at the Castle of Mey, said, "The new start and finish line was a wonderful backdrop for the runners and a marvellous photo-opportunity. It was a glorious day out for families; the sun shone all day."
Following the start of the 10K, children ages 5 to 11 participated in a Fun Run around the castle. Members of Caithness Amateur Athletic Club assisted on the run with 66 children participating. All the Fun Runners received a medal.
The 10K course took runners from the castle along the coast before turning inland past farms and fields surrounding the Castle. Highland Councillor Willie MacKay returned this year as race announcer and welcomed the runners back to the castle while providing commentary for the 200 spectators gathered to cheer on friends and family.
First male runner Andrew Douglas, 23, running for North Highland Harriers, made an impressive showing with a time of 31:51. 'The time was slightly down on what I expected but that was due in part to the varying conditions of the course and the stage that I am at with my training and race preparation,' he said. 'I thought it was a challenging course that demanded hard work from the athletes. The conditions were warm, but the course was enjoyable with good support from the marshals.' Andrew, originally from Halkirk and now living in Edinburgh, is coached by North Highland Harriers UKA Level 3 Endurance coach Sophie Dunnett.
The first female was Emma Dunnett, 15, from Reay, who finished her first Mey 10K in 40:18. She enjoyed the different terrains offered up by the course, which included some hills and off-road trails. She said, 'I really liked competing at home as so many of my competitions are down south. It was great to get lots of support from everyone around the course. I loved the atmosphere at the end.' Emma runs for Edinburgh Athletic Club.
Members of Caithness Gymnastics under the supervision of team coach Sheenagh Christie provided pre- and post-race entertainment with a Michael Jackson-inspired routine. The gymnasts also helped collect timing chips from runners after the race and handed out goodie bags and medals to all the participants.
A special mention goes to Yvonne Gunn, who completed the 10K in fancy dress. Running dressed as Queen Elizabeth--complete with royal blue ball gown--and holding out a matching handbag to collect donations from spectators on behalf of Maggie's Highlands, Yvonne raised nearly £350.00 for the charity. 'Everyone was so supportive and the atmosphere was so convivial,' she said. 'And I was totally overwhelmed by the crowd's generosity. I'm glad I did it, but I must admit, it got pretty hot in my ball gown.'
Full Results of the event can be found here.