Spotting a niche earns Borders athlete McGreal an extremely nice prize

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EXTREME Borderer Paul McGreal is celebrating this week after scooping a major prize at the coveted Annual British Triathlon (Federation) Awards on Saturday.

The Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon, won the best event of 2012 at the bash, which was held at the National Motorcycle Museum in the West Midlands.

One of many off-road events thought up by Selkirk-based McGreal, and put into practice by his Durty Events company, the inaugural Celtman was staged on June this year and centred around Shieldaig in the stunning Torridon mountains in Wester Ross.

In the spirit of the world’s finest extreme triathlons, the race encompassed a 3.8km sea loch swim in Loch Shieldaig, an arduous 202km bike ride on incredible Highland roads with 2,000m of climb, and a 42km run, mostly off-road and over two Munros.

After collecting his trophy in person at Saturday night’s awards ceremony Paul told TheSouthern: “We were a bit chuffed, as well as pleased, proud, and more than a bit surprised – we thought that Celtman was a bit too ‘niche’ to be recognised in this way.”

Niche maybe, but 125 athletes took part in one of the toughest triathlons in Europe, with 40 per cent of competitors travelling to Scotland from outside the UK.

Alex Glasgow (Nevis Cycles RT/TORQ Fitness) was first past the finish line in an impressive 12 hours, nine minutes and 48 seconds, and Susanne Buckenlei (FS TSG 08 Roth Triathlon) from Germany was the first female finisher in 13.55.33.

McGreal was helped in the organising side of the event by Stuart McInnes of the Tri Centre, Edinburgh, where the initial idea grew and blossomed. Many helpers were needed to stage such a sporting extravaganza in the Highlands and many of McGreal’s friends from the Borders turned out to lend a hand.

“There were lots of Borderers who came to help us out on race weekend – much of the credit for the success of the race and the amazing atmosphere appreciated by the competitors is entirely down to them,” he told us.

Singled out for special mention were Gordon Donald, Rhoda MacPherson and Alan Bennett from Innerleithen, and Rik Turton (Peebles) and Keith MacLure (Tweedbank). “We owe them and our many volunteers and helpers a huge thank you for warmly embracing the event,” he added.

Notorious for his laid back appearance, McGreal also shared with us one of the secrets of his success.

“We try really hard to strike a balance – we want the events to feel really laid back and friendly, whilst at the same time being meticulously organised,” he explained.

“It’s that classic paradox – in order to appear relaxed, you actually have to be extremely organised.

“We’re aiming for high quality in everything we do, and the award, we think, reflects that.

McGreal and McInnes wish to thank Craft (clothing), Oakley and The Tri Centre for their support in 2012.

In the meantime plans keep on evolving and McGreal & co have added some new events to the 2013 calendar already, including an on-road event at St Mary’s Loch and a new off-road triathlon in Aviemore. Subject to landowner agreements they are also hoping to add an event at Whiteadder Reservoir on July 20.

The second edition of the Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon will take place on July 6 in Wester Ross.

For more information on any of the above events go to www.cxtri.com or www.durtyevents.com