“Dragooned” Lib Dem whips the beast

Willie Rennie: Senior political figure and a keen runner (Photo from Wikipedia)
Willie Rennie: Senior political figure and a keen runner (Photo from Wikipedia)

The Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems was a surprise front runner at the Banchory Beast last Saturday, posting the fifth fastest time of the day.

Willie Rennie, the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, posted the remarkable time over the 10K obstacle course of 56:35 - less than five minutes off Stuart Amory’s winning time of 52:47.

“I was dragooned into running it by Bert McIntosh who owns the land,” explained Rennie. “We were guests at a dinner the week before and he said: ‘I want you to take part in this Beast,’ but I didn’t really know what he meant.

“I was going to do a run on the way back down towards Glen Cova anyway so I had some running kit with me.”

Though he knew not what he’d gotten himself into until the day of the event, Rennie ran in the first wave, and was the second person over the finish line. Despite his busy schedule as a senior political figure, he regularly manages to clock between 27 and 37 miles per week.

“When there’s boring debates on in parliament,” said Rennie, “I sneak out and train. And I can train a lot as there’s quite a lot of boring debates.”

He added: “I try to train every day - I focus on a mixture of hill running and road racing.”

Rennie’s regime’s focus on hills was no doubt a massive help for the opening three-kilometre-ascent which began this year’s race, and was largely cited as the toughest part of the course by participants.

Rennie said: “The worst bit of the course for me was definitely those gravel hills.

“The running shoes I had with me had lots of holes, so I got half the gravel in them - I must have had about 20 stones in my shoe at one point which was really, really painful. I had to stop after it just to get them out of my shoes.”