– 21st year for North Uist’s Beinn Lee race
– The Ben Kenneth race at Lochboisdale enters its 46th year
A year ago, the names of Neil MacRury and Gemma Beaton were being heralded for their achievements as the fastest male and female, respectively, at the Beinn Lee Hill Race at Lochmaddy. The 2014 race ended with Neil MacRury as the overall winner of the 20th anniversary edition of the race, in 1 hour and 2 minutes. While Gemma Beaton did Carinish proud with a fantastic time of 1.23.
Saturday 1st of August marks the start of two days of back-to-back hill races, in Uist, with Beinn Lee taking place in Lochmaddy the day before competitors try their luck at the South Uist equivalent in Lochboisdale.
For the last 46 years, many runners, from Bayhead to Balivanich, from Perth to Portugal, have travelled to South Uist to take on the challenge, that is the Ben Kenneth Hill Race.
Lorna MacLeod has the chance make it a hat-trick of finishes as the fastest lady, having taking that title for the last two years. Her time of 38.34 recorded in 2014, will perhaps be another target for her to beat if she takes part this year.
The formidable run, which also includes the option to swim across Lochboisdale, will again attract many competitors from far and wide. Some will take part merely for fun, while others will look to add their name to the pantheon of great winners, such as the two-time champion, Joao Pateira of Portugal and the record-holding ten-time winner Ronald J MacDonald, who have tasted success over the competition’s long and illustrious history.
One man who has enjoyed such success, is last year’s winner William MacRury. Am Paipear recently caught up with the current champion, who spoke to us about doggy paddles, home baking and what he expects from this year’s race.
Am Paipear (AP): Last year you won, what are you memories of the race?
William MacRury (WM): Hahaha, the best memory has to be when we were all on the start line ready for the off, the race starter fired his pistol to set us on our way and my friend James Stoddart from Carloway got such a fright he fell flat on his face!
AP: Do you think you can beat your time from last year?
WM: Well because of the weather and for safety reasons we could only do half the race, so I would be very surprised to beat last year’s time! But my 2013 time is a good target, I remember the tide was high, therefore the swim was longer than normal which will add minutes to the overall time.
AM: What is the hardest part of the course in your opinion?
WM: Without doubt for me, it’s the swim. For one I’m terrible in water and can barely doggy paddle my way across, but it totally zaps your energy and I find it very hard to get going again once I’m out.
AP: What attracted you to this race to begin with?
WM: I just love Uist and I love running. My father is from Benbecula so we try and pop down for as many of the wee races as possible. There’s always a great community feel at the events and normally piles of home baking!
AP: Without giving your challengers an advantage, what tips would you give any first-time runners to the race?
WM: The best advice I was given before my first hill race was, “walk before you have to”
AP: If you had to describe the race in three words, what would you say?
WM: A unique experience
The Beinn Lee Hill Race take places on Saturday 1st August,
Registration is at Taigh Chearsabhagh Art Centre in Lochmaddy from 1pm.
Walkers start at 2.00pm
Runners start at 3.00pm
For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/beinnleehill.race
The Ben Kenneth Hill Race takes places on Sunday 2nd August
The race starts at 7.30pm at Lochboisdale Pier.
For more information visit: http://www.ianbinnie.me.uk/next_race/next_race.htm