10 Walkers Cyclists took part in the annual Runners versus Cyclists in Irvine today. Starting at the Maress Sports Club, the five mile course covered a mixed bag of terrain with competitors completing a lap of the running track around the sports ground before venturing briefly on to the new town trail then back on to the grass climb up to the Maress Bridge over the river. From here they joined the moor and completed 2 laps of the circuit through scrub and round the horse track before retracing their steps back to the sports club. As the event is organised the Irvine AC there was the customary strong bias to making the course as difficult as possible for the cyclists. To even the playing field as much as possible the cyclists have to run on the tarmac between the sports club and the moor and there were also two hurdles thrown in for good measure. This year the weather made the organisers’ job much simpler; the constant rain over the last few weeks made many parts of the course hard going with the grassy areas turning to quagmires in places thus making the odds more evenly balanced as the participants struggled through varying depths of mud. Helpfully, the rain did actually stop for the duration of the race for most competitors, but unhelpfully the wind made sure the going was never easy.
Neil Walker got his usual great start and it never looked like anyone was going to pass him all the way round the course. Unsurprisingly he went on to notch up his 5th victory in this event in 27minutes 35seconds. Keith Johnstone also put in a strong performance to finish 3rd overall in just over 30minutes.
Because of a last-minute photo shoot the runners were positioned in front of the cyclists making a clean get away for most of the cyclists impossible. Anna Walker, Russell Mowat and Catherine Logan struggled to get through the melée not far from the start when the course narrowed, but eventually Anna and Russell managed to get through and pulled away from Catherine. Over the course of the event Russell managed to pull away from Anna just enough so she couldn’t catch him and Anna managed to keep ahead of Catherine, with the same result.
Scott Russell and partner Paula Wilson decided to swap places this year with Scott running the course and Paula competing in her first cyclocross event on a borrowed bike. Both done well with Scott once again triumphing in this duel. Paula thoroughly enjoyed her first attempt at cycling the course and admitted afterwards that ‘it was much harder cycling the course than running’. (We will of course reminder her of this in years to come). Fiona Walker celebrated her return to competition after a wrist operation, by knocking ten minutes off last year’s time. She wasn’t entirely sure whether to put this down to her new bike or the summer’s weight-loss triumph, but either way she was quite happy.
Taking part in the event for the first time were Fiona Wallace and Darren Ridout. Darren, competing on his mountain bike, made decent progress round the tricky course, while Fiona won the award for attracting most attention from passing motorists by being dressed for some unaccountable reason as one of Santa’s little helpers. Both managed to get round in under 50 minutes.
All in all it was a great day’s fun despite the ground conditions.