Tuesday, 28th January 2020
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Debut man wins Loch Ness Marathon

by Press Release
Tuesday 27th September 2016
Mohammad  Abu-Rezeq says only the effects of a freak injury prevented him from breaking the course record in today’s Baxters Loch Ness marathon.
The Jordanian runner, who has been based in Altrincham for the past five years, was racing the distance for the first time but showed no lack of confidence as he blasted off at a fast pace. Within the first few miles he had opened a significant gap on the rest of the field and as the contest progressed he stretched ever further ahead.
He was never in any serious danger of being caught and eventually completed the course in 2hrs 20min 52sec, the fourth quickest time in the 15 year history of the race and only 39secs outside the course record set by Kenya’s Simon Tonui in 2009.
Abu-Rezeq was delighted to have won but says he was capable of running much faster. He said: “It’s a nice course. I enjoyed it. It’s my first marathon and I hoped to run faster, but I fell on a training run two days ago and hurt my leg which was a problem for me today. It was painful after about 10 miles and slowed me down. I went through halfway in about 68mins, so I know if it hadn’t been for the injury I would have easily broken the record. I would definitely like to come back here again because it is a fantastic course and I know I can go much faster.”
Salford’s Tarus Elly, the 2013 and 2015 champion, was in the chasing pack for the first half of the race until he sustained an injury which finally forced him to withdraw around the 17 mile point. That left Patryk Gierjatowicz (Hunters Bog Trotters) and Kyle Greig (Forres Harriers) to engage in a hard-fought battle for the minor placings.
And it was the Edinburgh-based Pole, Gierjatowicz, who prevailed, taking second position in 2:25:28 with Greig settling for third in 2:26:22. It’s the fourth year in a row that Gierjatowicz has featured in the top three but that first win as so far eluded him.  He was second behind Elly in 2013 and second again behind Tomas Abyu in 2014 before taking third position last year.
Tom Charles (Trafford AC) was in contention for a podium position but fell away in the later stages to finish fourth in 2:34:00 with Lewis Banton (Clowne Road Runners) fifth in 2:36:44.
Mark Webster, in 16th position, won the over-40’s prize when recording 2:51:51 while Antoni Kot took the over-50’s award in 2:59:06 and Terence Coyle was first over-60 in 3:06.25.
Jen Wetton won the women’s title for the second time in three years when recording 2:47:03 to finish 10th overall. Her time was 58secs slower than in 2014, but the Central AC runner was satisfied with the outcome. She said: “I ran it more sensibly than before and paced it better in the first half, but after that I lost time on the hills and I never got it back, although I did feel stronger again at the end.
“I was on my own after about two or three miles and I never saw anyone again until near the end when a guy overtook me. It’s harder to keep concentration when that happens.
“I was hoping for faster, but I’m making no excuses, I just wasn’t good enough to do it on the day. But I have to be happy after the injuries I had last year when doing the 10km seemed so hard. This race has been my goal all summer and I wanted to finish it in one piece and to win it so, I’m pleased to have achieved these goals. I’d also like to says thanks to my training partner, Kenny Hislop, who has helped me all year.”
Victoria Hunter, who has enjoyed success in a number of ultra events, finished second in 2:59:37 with hill running specialist Jill Mykura taking third spot and first over-40 in 3:07:05. 
Erica Christie (Cambuslang Harriers), one of five runners to have competed in all 15 editions of the marathon, successfully defended the over-50 women’s age group title when finishing eighth in 3:16:35. Christie finished second in the women's division of the inaugural Baxters race in 2002. Her quickest Loch Ness time of 3:06:51 was set when finishing fourth in 2009 and her slowest of 3:18:47 came in 2013 when she was second in the over-50 age group.
Sarah Houston (Moray Road Runners) won the over-60's title in 3:36:22.
Inverness runner Paul Smith, who finished 29th in 2:56:14 won the HSPC Gerald Cooper Memorial Trophy which is presented to the first Highland runner across the finish line.
And in the Baxter's River Ness 10k...
Neil Renault successfully defended his title in the Baxters River Ness 10km when sprinting home in 30min 37secs, just four secs slower than his winning time in 2015.
The Edinburgh AC runner finished 16secs ahead of Conan Mccaughey (Central AC) with John Newsom (Inverness Harriers) a further three secs behind in third position with Scottish 10,000m track champion Will Mackay (Aberdeen AAC) fourth in 31:10, three secs ahead of North champion Kenny Wilson (Moray Road Runners).
Mccaughey was making his first appearance in the Inverness race while Newsom maintained his remarkable record of consistency. The Nairn-based athlete won in 2013, was second in 2012 and took third spot third in 2014. He stepped up to the marathon last year and finished fourth in 2:32:54.
Renault was delighted with the result, saying: “I am definitely happy with my run. It was nip and tuck with the other guys for the opening few kilometres which was run into a strong wind. I got away from them at exactly the same point as last year, right on the 5km mark, and from then on I just kept it going. I had a look behind at 7km and checked that I was clear. I had another look later on and saw Mccaughey moving fast, but I was able to hold on.
“I’m satisfied because I didn’t really ease back my training too much. I’m looking for a good run in the Glasgow half marathon next week and hopefully this will set me up for it. I enjoy coming up to Inverness to race and hopefully I can come back next March for the half marathon.”
Kevin Cormack (North Highland Harriers) won the over-40’s prize in 34:25, Stan Mackenzie (Forres Harriers) took the over-50’s award in 35:31 and Brian Urquhart (Fraserburgh Running Club) was first over-60 in 40:35.
Scotland-based Hungarian international Fanni Gyurko won the women’s race with an impressive performance which saw her stop the clock at 35:03, a time bettered by only 20 men. The Central AC runner certainly enjoys her visits to the Highland capital, having won the Inverness half marathon on her previous visit six months earlier.
She said: “I wanted to run under 35mins but it was very windy so I am happy with  the time. I took the lead from the beginning and just ran as fast as I could. It’s a nice course and I enjoyed it. I’m going to run in next week’s Glasgow half marathon and I hope I can run my best time there.”
Scotland international Jenny Bannerman , the 2014 winner, had to settle for second position in 35:28 but the Inverness Harriers member was satisfied with the outcome.
She said: “I am really happy with the time as it’s a season’s best for me. It was very windy today, and I felt it especially in the first 3km and I think that affected the times. I could see Fanni the whole way and I might have been catching her a little towards the end but she has been in such great form that I’m not disappointed. I was never going to catch her.”
Fiona Thompson (Central AC) was third in 35:58 with Nicola Gauld (Aberdeen AAC), who was third last year, finishing fourth in 36:40 and Sarah Liebnitz (Inverness Harriers) was fifth in 37:01.
Marie Baxter (Garioch Road Runners) picked up the over-40’s prize in 38:54 while Linda Watson was first over-50 in 43:29 and Liz Gray (Inverness Harriers) topped the over-60’s competition in 51:46.
The Inverness College UHI squad of Robert Boyd, Jennifer Keyes, Paul Moody and Suzanne Stewart won the Corporate Team Challenge.
There was a thrilling ending to the Baxters River Ness 5km fun run in which Dean Kane (Inverness Harriers),36, was almost caught on the line by fast-finishing youngster Danny McPake (Ross County AC),14, while Morgan Lewis (Moray Road Runners,15, was further back in third position.
Emily Andrew, 14, led Inverness Harriers’ runners to a clean sweep of the top three positions in the women’s division of the run, with Rebecca Johnstone,14, second and Catriona Garvie, 13, third.

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