ON Saturday 03 and Sunday 4 September 81 brave and determined multi-sport athletes from throughout the UK and further afield, competing as solos and pairs, took on The Heb – Race on the Edge, a new mountain bike, off road running and kayaking challenge on the Uist Island chain off the west coast of Scotland.
On this epic journey the athletes covered approximately 15,000km over two days of endurance racing (with each competitor averaging 125km on day one and 60km on day two) on Benbecula, the uninhabited tidal island of Vallay, North Uist and South Uist – beautiful desolate sandy beaches, magnificent mountains, hidden coves, and wild Hebridean landscapes.
This ultimately physical island challenge, designed to be accessible to anyone with a sense of adventure and a modicum of endurance, was deemed a huge success by both competitors, volunteers and event organisers alike; with a strong emphasis on the competitiveness, the test of physical fitness, stamina and mental toughness, together with an immense amount of camaraderie, enjoyment and fun.
While the weather in such a remote group of islands will always be changeable with rain and high winds playing a part, for the vast majority of The Heb the temperatures were relatively mild. The Sunday sun was blisteringly hot.
Sean McFarlane led the field for the majority of day one of The Heb.
However, on day two Craig Mattocks mounted a solid challenge turning a nine-minute overnight deficit into a 15-minute lead when he crossed the finish line in an overall time of 16 hours and 25 minutes. Amy Goodill from Glenrothes took the female solo crown with an overall time of 20 hours and 53 minutes.
Former double Duathlon World Champion, double Long Distance Duathlon World Champion and multiple Ironman and Ironman 70.3 winner, Catriona Morrison, teamed up with Caroline Wallace, a PE teacher at Peebles High School, to take on The Heb. Together, they were overall pairs winners in a combined time of 18 hours and 13 minutes.
Cat Morrison, MBE, said: “The Heb was a great challenge. Travelling the length and breadth of the Uists with the wind at your back and the sun in the sky; and then two seconds later biking or running into a headwind with horizontal rain lashing at your face; what an amazing incredible experience.
“Running along the beach on the tidal island of Vallay trying to make sure we made the cut off before the tide came in and the views that we got from the top of Beinn Mhor were particular favourite moments.”
Race director, Paul McGreal from Durty Events, said: “We set out to achieve an accessible adventure, and to showcase what an incredible place the Hebrides are.
“I think it’s safe to say we did both. We were made to feel very welcome by islands residents and businesses – an essential part of the mix. The huge support we received from EventScotland and Calmac was much appreciated, and made staging the event possible.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of Events, said: “The Heb, which is supported through EventScotland’s National Funding Programme, perfectly demonstrates why Scotland is the perfect stage for events, taking place across one of our most scenic landscapes.
“This unique event attracted hardened athletes as well as amateur enthusiasts and I’m confident the positive feedback provided by all participants will allow The Heb to go from strength-to-strength in future years.”
Despite the exhaustion love was firmly in the air in the Outer Hebrides over The Heb weekend.
Polly and Steve Lock, the British/New Zealand pairing raced The Heb as part of their honeymoon, having flown over from Australia to Polly’s native UK to get married the weekend before.
They also managed to cross the finish line as first mixed pair. Another mixed pair, Vikki Morgan and Tom Jefferson, got engaged during the race with Tom proposing on the stunning white sands of a South Uist beach.
Apparently, the ring was carried in the ‘spare hats and gloves bag’ for the whole race.
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Notes to editors:
The Heb – Route Overview
Benbecula will be the starting point for the 120km route round North Uist on 03 September 2016 with a shorter 70km route taking athletes to the southernmost point of South Uist on 04 September 2016.
However, to make it easier and more relaxed for everyone the race will stop at the end of day one on Benbecula, allowing for a well earned refuel and ‘battery charge’.
On day one, participants begin with a coastal ride from Benbecula to North Uist, followed by running and trekking on Eaval mountain (shorter options available).
Then there is a beautiful moorland bike ride to the uninhabited intertidal island of Vallay for a bit more running and trekking (short options possible), followed by the hop to Lochmaddy for a fun kayak section and a bike ride back to Benbecula for a night under the stars.
1st Craig Mattocks
2nd Sean McFarlane
3rd Eddie Winthorpe
1st Amy Goodill
2nd Elizabeth Adams
3rd Maria Dixon
1st Bruce McGorum and Gerry MacLachlan
2nd Tim Rees and Errol Kobus
3rd Ryan George and Paul Cole
1st Catriona Morrison and Caroline Wallace (overall pairs winners)
2nd Katy Boocock and Dagmar Borrowman
3rd Lizzie Aitken and Brigid MacKenzie
1st Polly Weston and Steve Lock
2nd Naomi Dodds and Jamie Greig
3rd Fiona Russell and Gordon Lacey
The Heb – sponsors and partners
Caledonian MacBrayne – www.calmac.co.uk
Durty Events would like to thank Caledonian MacBrayne for their sponsorship and logistics support, in the transport of both people and equipment between Mallaig and Lochboisdale.
EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors.
For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org. Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews.
EventScotland is a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, the national tourism organisation which markets Scotland as a tourism destination across the world, gives support to the tourism industry and brings sustainable tourism growth to Scotland.
For more information about VisitScotland, see www.visitscotland.org or for consumer information on Scotland as a visitor destination see www.visitscotland.com.
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