The third race in the New Balance Reservoir Cup Series proved to be the most competitive so far, with Neil Tait emerging victorious from a group of three top runners who all pushed hard for a win over a hilly but scenic 12km course in Aberdeen Country Park yesterday.
Former British cross country international Bob Shorrock led the 250-strong field from the starting point, but was shadowed closely by in-form Gunner Rethfeldt, who won the China Coast Marathon just three weeks ago, and trail running specialist Tait. The trio were evenly matched over the smooth surface of the catchwater roads, but Tait came into his own once the course reached the uneven surface on the trail section.
'I made a break with about about a mile to go because I knew that Bob would be hard to beat if he had the lead once we reached the final catchwater section,' said 39-year-old civil engineer Tait. 'We were actually on the same team in the recent Four Peaks race, so I know how well Bob can race.'
Tait clocked 42 minutes and 51 seconds for a new course record while Shorrock, 44, came in less than half a minute behind to win the men's Senior Two category. Rethfeldt placed third overall and second to Tait in the men's Senior One category after clocking a time of 45:34.
The ultra-competitive men's Veteran One category for runners aged 45-49 produced a dramatic sub-plot with the first three runners placing an incredible fifth, sixth and seventh overall. Keith Chan, who placed first in the category in race two at Ho Pui last month, finished fifth overall yesterday to win the category in 45:56. Peter Hopper came in one place and 22 seconds behind Chan while John Shaw finished seventh overall to take the bronze in the category.
Grace Balintong led the women's race until the 4km point when Gillian Castka, 48, took control with an increase in pace. Castka ran 53:22 to place 35th overall while Balintong finished just four places and half a minute behind to win the women's Senior One category in 53:56. Janet Quigley was the third woman home yesterday in a time of 54:47 and won the women's Senior Two category while last year's series winner Melissa Yeung Mei-lun finished fourth in 56:14 to place second to Quigley in the women's Senior Two category.