Championship race wide open as runners gear up for Skye and Lochalsh winter running finale

Making a splash: Dean Macleod leads the field during the Braes race in December.

Paul Parker and Vicki Dunkel are one race away from claiming the men’s and women’s winter series running titles for Skye and Lochalsh with the finale of the competition set to take place this Saturday in Sconser.

The Sconser (nearly 10k) takes place this Saturday at 12pm and is the last race in the Skye and Lochalsh Running and Athletics Club’s 2019/20 Winter Series.

With 32 points Paul Parker sits top of the men’s standings but the race for the title is certainly not a forgone conclusion with just four points currently separating the top three men. Parker finished as the fastest runner from the Skye and Lochalsh Running and Athletics Club at the last race – the Glen Brittle 10-mile trail race – and in third place overall.

However, Parker’s closest rival Dean Macleod is hot on his heels with 30 points. Indeed, Macleod will be looking to replicate his early-season form which saw him claim victory in each of the first three races at Skeabost, Skinadin, and Braes. Macleod did not compete in either the Glenmore 10k or the Glen Brittle 10-mile trail race.

Scott Templeman, who occupies third place with 28 points, came first at the Glenmore race and will hope to continue his fine form of 2020 which also saw him take fourth place behind Parker at Glen Brittle.

The winter series got underway in October with the Skeabost 5k.

Meanwhile, in the women’s standings, Vicki Dunkel’s performance at Glen Brittle saw her leapfrog Marina Slater to claim first place. Dunkel’s 16th place finish earned her four points in the competition as she finished as the second fastest female club runner on the day. Reigning women’s champion Sarah Attwood brought herself back into contention by finishing as the fastest lady and in fifth place overall – a result which moved her level with Marina Slater as joint-second on 20 points in the championship standings.

With Ian Silvester and Sarah Stephenson just six points behind the top three runners in the men’s and women’s standings, respectively, there are plenty of competitors still in the running ahead of Saturday’s big race.

Sarah Stephenson of the Skye and Lochalsh Running and Athletics Club told the Free Press: “In terms of the weather, it’s been a mixed bag of wind and rain but none of the usual icy or snowy conditions. I think numbers are up a little this year and it has been great to see lots of new faces coming along.”

Registration for the race takes place from 11.30 am on Saturday at Sconser Golf Club and the race starts at 12 pm. Competitors will be tasked with running out and back from the golf club along the Moll Road.

The race is waymarked and is open to anyone aged 16 and over. It is £5 for non-members to take part and £1 for SLRAC members.

Ten, eight, six, four and then two points are awarded in descending order to the first five male and female running club members. The competitors’ top four scores from the six races will then be accumulated and the championship titles will be awarded to the two runners with the greatest point totals.

Current top four standings.

Women’s championship. 1. Vicki Dunkel – 24 points. 2 = Marina Slater – 20 points. 2= Sarah Attwood – 20 points. 4. Sarah Stephenson – 18 points.

Men’s championship. 1 Paul Parker – 32 points. 2 Dean Macleod – 30 points. 3 Scott Templeman – 28 points. 4 Ian Silvester – 26 points.

Article by Adam Gordon and images by Willie Urquhart.