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For a number of this year’s entrants, the toughest aspect of the event was the journey up the A9. Remarkably, there were two road closures: the first shortly after midday near Dunkeld and the second in the evening at Slochd – each lasted around eight hours. Some were caught in both but in spite of these problems an impressive 17 Hunters Bog Trotters and many others from Edinburgh made the start. In all there were 60 in the Challenge and 78 in the Race.

The weather was also tough. It was a dreich autumnal day. The temperature never got above 10-11 degrees, there were prolonged showers and a moderate wind – certainly a hard shift for the Marshals out on the run course. The north-west wind helped on the cycle but given the overall conditions, it was a surprise to see two records broken. Congratulations to Cameron Young, of The Mac Milers, whose time of 1:40:51 shaved ten seconds off Ewan Taylor’s Open record, and to Duncan Ball, of Penicuik Harriers, whose time of 2:09:10 improved Ray Wilby’s Vintage (over 60) record by nearly four minutes.

Cameron Smith 1st Mens Open

Cameron Young

As always, the entrants featured a wide age range with two 12 year olds, Anna Meek and Mairi Rathjen, and 15 over 60’s. Several families had multiple entries, notably the Burnetts with six. All did impressively good times: Sam, 16, 1:57:56, Robin, 52, 1:58:18, Tom, 18, 2:19:04, Kirstin, 15, 2:35:20, Hugh, 13, 2:51:40 and Maureen, 52, 2:54:12. Dad won the Senior Vet prize but the family bragging rights definitely go to Sam. In last year’s report, I wrote,

“Sam won the prize for the outstanding performance by a Junior (under 16) with a time of 2:14:12 and Robin was the second Super Vet (50 – 59) with a time of 2:10:20. I suspect Dad will be pushed to stay in front for another year”.

I was right!

Apart from the two record breakers there were a number of other impressive performances. The prize winners were: Best Junior Jessica Taylor, 14, Edinburgh#3, 2:14:49, 1st F Vintage, Jane Maloney, Easingwold Running, 3:11:12, 1st F SVet, Paula Ross, Highland Hill Runners, 2:30:49, 1st M SVet, Robin Burnett, 1:58:18, 1st F Vet, Nina Walkinshaw, Howgill Harriers, 2:23:14, 1st M Vet, Rob Brookes, Cosmic Hill Bashers, 1:52:07, and 1st FOpen, Katie Williams, Hunters Bog Trotters, 2:01:40. The two ‘Local’ winners were: Jess Whistance, again, and Charlie Taylor.

An innovation this year was the Duathlon Ceilidh in the Community Hall with the BlackRock Ceilidh Band performing. It proved highly successful and was notable for the surprising vigour displayed by many dancers, after their hard day, and for the longest Strip the Willow yet seen in the Applecross Hall.

Thanks are due to many for making the event possible – over 30 volunteers are involved on the day. I am personally most grateful to my niece, Sarah McCowan for taking over the running of the event and to her committee of Jess Whistance, Tery McCowan, Barbara Gillies and Jon Glover. I am still allowed to give out the prizes and help with event administration! Thanks also to the various Applecross businesses who generously donate prizes: the Applecross Photo Gallery, the Applecross Inn, The Coal Shed gift shop, Tery McCowan’s Clement Design and the Walled Garden Bistro.

Each year the Hornsby Trophy is awarded to somebody who has made a special contribution to the event over the years. Since the beginnings of the Duathlon in 2004, Transition has almost invariably been cheerfully supervised by two of the most popular men in Applecross, Kenny Maclean and Jimmy Fraser. Until just a month ago, Jimmy was expecting to be helping again this year but sadly he has become critically ill. I was pleased to present him with the Hornsby Trophy at his home on Sunday.

Jimmy & Kenny

Jimmy (on left) and Kenny

Finally, many thanks to all the competitors for supporting the Applecross Duathlon. We hope to see you all again next year.

Gerry McPartlin


After the hiatus due to Hurricane Dorian and Covid, we were due some luck. We duly got it. The day of this year’s Duathlon proved to be a wee window in some dismal weather. Apart from a 5 -10 mph headwind on the cycle, conditions were about ideal. 66 took part in the Challenge and 81 in the Race.

Two features of the Applecross Duathlon are the wide age range of the competitors (11 – 75 this year) and the number of families involved. The family record goes to the Burnetts with six entrants. Sam won the prize for the outstanding performance by a Junior (under 16) with a time of 2:14:12 and Robin was the second Super Vet (50 – 59) with a time of 2:10:20. I suspect Dad will be pushed to stay in front for another year.

The stand-out performance was by Tom Martyn, of HBT, who won the Men’s Open in 1:43:20 – just 2 minutes 19 seconds outside Ewan Taylor’s course record. Ewan was third overall and the first M Vet in 1:52:47. Claire Gordon, also of HBT, won the Women’s Open in 2:10:17, her fourth consecutive victory and this in spite of being four years into Vet status.

Iona Robertson, Highland Hill Runners, was the first F Vet, in 2:22:09, whilst Fiona Kelsall, Ochil Hill Runners, was the first F Super Vet, in 2:32:29. The first M Super Vet was Mike Stewart, Keith & District AAC, in 2:03:24.

Alasdair MacSween, Skye & Lochalsh Runners and Skye MRT, was the first M Vintage (over 60), in 2:31:53 and Jo Polak, Highland Hill Runners and Torridon MRT, was the first F Vintage, in 3:00:47. The Men’s record holder in the Vintage category, is Ray Wilby of Dundonnell MRT (2:13:04). It seems there is something about MRT work that preserves fitness.

For reasons of safety, the Finish was moved this year from the main village to the road up to the Walled Garden, which was closed for the afternoon. Registration and the Tea / Prize Giving were also moved, to Hartfield House, next to the Start and less than mile from the Finish, giving a more compact as well as a safer event.

As always, I’m indebted to a team of over 30 volunteers who give up a chunk of their weekend to help and to various local businesses for help with the prizes, in particular the Applecross Inn, the Applecross Photo Gallery, the Coal Shed gift shop and the Walled Garden bistro.

Gerry McPartlin


I guess that after 16 years we were due for some problems outside our control. First the Highland Council announced the closure of the A890 Stromeferry bypass road for the whole of the Duathlon weekend making access impossible from the Fort William and Skye directions. Then, after devastating the Bahamas, the tail of hurricane Dorian whipped across the Atlantic, lashing Wester Ross with maximum impact exactly on the afternoon of the Duathlon. Fortunately, the forecasters gave clear and early warning and we were able to advise all entrants of cancellation at 9am the day before the event.

XC Weather Forecast for Applecross


It was the first time the Duathlon has been cancelled in 16 years, so we can hardly complain. I am most grateful to the many folk who wrote to support the cancellation, making a lot of complimentary remarks in the process eg

“For my part, and I’m sure most people, I don’t want a refund. For all it is anyway, best value event I’ve ever entered, and it’s to a good cause. Sorry it isn’t going ahead though but will look forward to next year, thanks very much”.

“Thanks for all the hard work preparing the UK’s best duathlon!  Such a shame. Sorry we won’t be there”. 

“No refund necessary. Glad to support the applecross community. The applecross duathlon is a great event and is at a fantastically low price for what it is”.

One of the attractions of the Applecross Duathlon is that it offers a serious race for the club athlete yet can be done as a fun run or walk by any reasonably fit person. As one “regular” commented last year,

“Thank you for another fantastic Duathlon! It remains the most inclusive, friendly event on the calendar and it was a joy to see so many youngsters getting the chance to take part”.

The inclusive nature of the event was reflected this year by the number of family entries (including 6 from one family), 15 entrants under 16 and 11 over 60. We also had our youngest entrant yet, aged 9!

Let’s hope for better weather next year.


With Typhoon Mangkhut battering the Phillipines and Storm Florence hitting North Carolina it was a worrying time to be running the Applecross Duathlon. Happily the local weather was surprisingly good, with just a moderate headwind affecting the cycling section. All but one of the 123 starters (62 in the Challenge and 61 in the Race) completed the course.

One of the outstanding performances was by Hamish Loftus, from Ullapool. Hamish, aged 10, was the youngest competitor but recorded the fastest time by a Junior, 3 hours 6 minutes. At the other end of the age range there was a record 23 entries in the Vintage category. The winners were the husband and wife duo, Angus and Jean Bowman, Lomond Hill Runners, in 2 hours 31 minutes and 2 hours 59 minutes. Jean gained the distinction in June of becoming the first lady over 60 to complete the Celtman extreme ironman.

The Men’s winner was, once again, Ewan Taylor, from Fife, in a time of 1 hour 48 minutes, seven minutes slower than his course record. Claire Gordon, HBT, completed a hat-trick of Women’s Open wins, in 2 hours 10 minutes.

The Veteran winners were Robert Bacon, Deeside Thistle, 2 hours 6 minutes, and Sara Henry, Deeside Runners, 2 hours 31 minutes. The Super Veteran winners were the same duo as last year, Alec Keith, HBT, 2 hours 6 minutes, and Katy Boocock, Highland Hill Runners, 2 hours 34 minutes.

Once again I am indebted to the local community and, particularly, the Community Hall committee. Their support makes it possible for the event to run on a small budget with the entry fee at just £6. Jack Marris who runs the Applecross Photo Gallery,,   donated nearly £200 worth of prizes.

I am also most grateful to the many volunteers, including 5 members of the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team, who helped on the day. Their friendly welcome is commented on by many competitors. Special thanks are due to Annie MacDonald. Annie succeeded in photographing all the competitors at Transition and recording their split times. Annie’s photos will be on Flickr sometime next week – the link is on the Gallery page of the website.

Entries for next year will open, as usual on the first Saturday in June. Places in the event and in the local accommodation usually fill up rapidly.

Gerry McPartlin


The days leading up to the Duathlon featured horrendous weather. The Transition area was particularly depressing with deep mud, standing water and large quantities of cow poo! Mercifully, Saturday brought improvement with just brief showers and a light wind, from the north, making for good times.

There was only one new record but a notable one. Hugh Morrow, aged 15, finished 12th out of 87 in the race, with a time of 1.57.22, improving the junior record by nearly 20 minutes! The Morrows are great supporters of the event. Twin sister, Beth, 2.12.35, was also well inside the previous record and, remarkably for a junior she was 3rd in the Ladies Open (unfortunately her “Junior” category caused me to overlook her as a candidate for a prize in the Open). Not to be outdone, mum, Jill, 2.10.01, won the Veteran prize even though she is now a “Super Veteran”.

“Team Morrow”

Jill – first Vet

Jill Morrow - 1st Vet

Hugh – new Junior Male record

Hugh Morrow - Junior record

Beth – new Junior Female record & 3rd Open

Beth Morrow - 3rd Open

Another lady who defies the years is Claire Gordon. Claire is now a Veteran but continued her dominance of the Ladies Open, winning for the fourth time in five years, with a time of 1.58.51. The Mens’ Open was won for the third time by Ewan Taylor in 1.42.25, just one minute 24 seconds outside his own course record.

Claire Gordon, first Open, & Drew Sharkey

Ewan Taylor – first Open

The first Men’s Veteran, making his debut in the event, was Mark Harris, 1.50.41. The Men’s Super Veteran winner was Alec Keith, 1.52.26. Alec is another “evergreen”. In August he won the Open category in the Great Wilderness Challenge, setting a new record for over 50’s. The first Ladies Super Veteran, also competing for the first time, was Katie Boocock, 2.19.49.

Mark Harris – first Vet

Alec Keith – first Super Vet

Katie Boocock – first Super Vet

The Vintage, over 60, category was well supported this year. The winner was another debutant, Angus Bowman, 2.18.27, just 5 minutes outside Ray Wilby’s superb record.

Angus Bowman – first Vintage

The Challenge, with 47 entrants, saw more outstanding age related performances. Zoe Sharpe, who is just 11, managed 2.45.41, whilst, at the other end of the age spectrum, John McNally, who is 80, achieved a truly incredible 3.20.06. John has been a great supporter of the Applecross Duathlon but his knees dictate that this will be his last competitive appearance. He was, without doubt, the appropriate recipient of the Hornsby Trophy for the outstanding contribution to the day.

John McNally – Hornsby Trophy

My thanks are due to the numerous participants who have already given positive feedback, for example,

“Huge thanks for a great event yesterday. We were taking part for the first time and had a fantastic day on a brilliant course. Please pass on our thanks to everyone involved, it was superbly well organised and everyone was so friendly.”

And Judith Fish, in the Applecross Inn, wrote,

“Dear Gerry, Just to say, thank you for such a great day, lovely people, fab atmosphere, lots of business and a wonderful aura all day and well into the evening. We all enjoyed your Duathlon. 14 residents had already booked for 2018 but on departure they booked for 2019 ……no rest for the wicked !! Thanks again and well done to you and all the helpers, Judith and the team.”  

And a big thanks from me to the forty plus folk who contributed to, what many commented, was the “best Applecross Duathlon yet”.

Gerry Mcpartlin


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