PICTURES: The Highland Cross makes a triumphant return as more than 600 people take part
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The Highland Cross made welcome return on Saturday as more than 620 dedicated athletes raced 50 miles through the mountains to raise money for charity.
The gruelling duathlon sees competitors run 30 miles through the mountains from Kintail to Glen Affric, then mount their bikes for a 20-mile cycle to the finish line in Beauly.
Despite the damp conditions underfoot and strong winds on race day, competitors fought hard through the wilderness in their teams of three.
Ross Gollan was the first man over the finish line this year, in 3 hours, 21 minutes and 14 seconds.
The first woman was Jill Stephen, who completed the effort in 3 hours 55 minutes and 14 seconds.
Special prizes were also awarded, with best team name going to Worst Place Scenario and overall ladies team being awarded to Chaffing the Dream.
Plates designed and made by The Potter’s House were given out as awards to the worthy winners.
The Cross has not take place since 2019 due to Covid restrictions so it was a welcome return for organisers and competitors alike.
Four Highland charities will benefit from the donations raised by each participating team – The Glenurquhart Care Project, CCAST Highland, Rach4Reality and The Oxygen Works.
Each charity applied to receive funding for a particular item they need to carry on their good work.
Since its beginning in 1983, the Cross has raised £5,316,855 for local charities.
Founder Calum Munro said: “It was an extremely difficult Highland Cross to organise given we had a nearly three-year delay, but we were immensely well supported.
“The atmosphere on the day, despite really challenging weather at the start, was fantastic. The atmosphere at the end in Beauly was stunningly good. We come away from the event overjoyed to be back on the sporting and fundraising calendar, and have already started our improvement planning for 2023.
“Our volunteering teams are already talking about how they can get things to work better next year. The community of the Highland Cross is firing on all cylinders once again.
“There is complete engagement of the community from one end to the other and that is the essence of the Cross. It’s from the community, for the community.
“There were nearly 400 volunteers spread out across the route to ensure everyone was safe and supported.”
Volunteers are drawn from both a pool of longstanding supporters plus individuals from charities which have previously benefited from the event.
n More coverage – pages 22, 23 and 29.