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PICTURES: Over 750 people take part in Highland Cross event as it marks 40 years


By Rachel Smart

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Following the Highland Cross sign towards Athnamulloch.
Following the Highland Cross sign towards Athnamulloch.

Over 750 people participated in a gruelling challenge at the 40th Highland Cross this weekend.

The 50-mile duathlon (20 miles on foot, 30 miles on bike) traverses the Highlands coast to coast, west to east from Kintail through Glen Affric and Strathglass to Beauly.

Ewan Brown created history as he broke the record at the Highland Cross which had stood for 31 years as he claimed victory in his debut.

Highland Cross champion Ewan Brown with Gordon Lennox (left) in second place and James Taylor (right) who finished third. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Highland Cross champion Ewan Brown with Gordon Lennox (left) in second place and James Taylor (right) who finished third. Picture: James Mackenzie.

The 37-year-old mechanical engineer from Edinburgh took victory in the race between Kintail and Beauly as he crossed the line in a time of three hours, 13 minutes and 13 seconds.

Brown beat the previous record by 18 seconds, which had stood since 1993 when Keith Murray from New Zealand won in a time of 3:13.31.

Catriona Graves was crowned the queen of the Highland Cross for the second consecutive year as she successfully defended her title on Saturday.

Catriona Graves wins Highland Cross 2024. Picture: James Mackenzie
Catriona Graves wins Highland Cross 2024. Picture: James Mackenzie

The 27-year-old Inverness doctor claimed the women’s title as she crossed the finish line in a time of three hours, 54 minutes and 37 seconds.

John Budge of North Highland Harriers at the finish.
John Budge of North Highland Harriers at the finish.

A total of 752 people started the event with 744 completing the race. Organisers have said that it was the ‘best weather they’ve seen in 40 years’ for the event.

Athletes from the Caithness-based North Highland Harriers at the Highland Cross. Picture: Lorna Stanger
Athletes from the Caithness-based North Highland Harriers at the Highland Cross. Picture: Lorna Stanger

John Fraser, Highland Cross treasurer said: “As far as the athletic side is concerned we were pleasantly surprised that someone managed to break the record for the first time in 31 years! It was especially meaningful to happen in our 40th year!

Runners make their way past the waterfall and up to the top of the hill.
Runners make their way past the waterfall and up to the top of the hill.

“The weather conditions were pretty good this year with a reasonable tailwind helping cyclists! We’ve had all types of weather over the years and this was one of the best!

The participants gather at the start line.
The participants gather at the start line.

“We would just like to extend a massive thanks to all the volunteers who make it happen each year. Over 400 people come together to create the event and they turn up year on year.”

Four charities will benefit from this year’s race.

Cantraybridge College will receive a new minibus to allow it to maintain and expand its vital services for young adults with additional support needs.

Runners head past a ruin in Gleann Lichd before the climb to the waterfall.
Runners head past a ruin in Gleann Lichd before the climb to the waterfall.

A new van will help a Highland Blindcraft which employs and supports disabled people in Inverness and the Highlands through the manufacture and sales of high-quality mattresses, divans and headboards.

Inverness Harriers (from left) Paul Paterson, Graeme Ambrose, John Macleod and Sia Cunningham at the start in Kintail.
Inverness Harriers (from left) Paul Paterson, Graeme Ambrose, John Macleod and Sia Cunningham at the start in Kintail.

Sporting groups across the Highlands are set to benefit from an award of a minibus to Highland Disability Sport.

Highland Cross funding will also help L’Arche Highland purchase a seven-seater MPV with additional safety and care features. It will be used for individual and pooled journeys to and from day workshops, outings, attending health appointments and visiting friends and family, significantly enhancing the lives of those it supports and adding an extra dimension to the community.

The bike changeover at the quarry in Glen Affric.
The bike changeover at the quarry in Glen Affric.

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