The Haldane Cup is awarded each year to a runner who embodies the spirit of Cape Wrath Challenge week, through their optimism, cheerfulness and support to others. Last year’s winner, Tony Chalmers, tells us what makes the event special to him.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am 64 years old and born and brought up in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, but I’ve lived in Thurso for the last 36 years. I worked at Dounreay as a Radiation Protection Adviser before retiring four years ago. I’ve always had an interest in the countryside and wildlife, which provides a bonus on the annual trip to Durness. I also like reading and going to the cinema when I have time. My main hobby is fly-fishing, with associated fly-tying, with running a close second, plus hill walking when I get the chance.
Tell us a bit your running history. What running do you enjoy most?
I took up distance running 30 years ago when marathons were all the rage. I completed six marathons in a short space of time, including 3 in 5 weeks, before concentrating on shorter distances. I finished the Loch Ness Marathon eight years ago but realised then my knees are no longer up to the distance! I’ve run numerous half-marathons and 10Ks over the years, as well as two Highland Crosses and one disastrous triathlon (not a good swimmer). I most enjoy trail running and I’m a member of North Highland Harriers.
How many times have you been to CWC?
Seven times! I’ve run in a multi-person team on the Cape on three occasions (a good excuse for going to the buffet and ceilidh) and in a 2-person team four times. My biggest regret is that I have not run the marathon but I have run both directions on the relay. Since retiring, I have gone for the full week each year and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner!
How did you first hear about CWC? What made you come for the first time?
I heard about it through marathon running colleagues in Thurso. In particular, Gary Angus was a great ambassador who convinced me to try the full week. It was Shona Comrie who persuaded her cousin Allan and myself to come for our first time, as part of a 5-person team, with the promise of a great night at the buffet and ceilidh. She wasn't wrong! Allan and I have competed as a 2-man team for the last three years.
What makes the event special to you? What makes you come back?
The friendly nature and all-round support from the organisers, fellow runners and Durness residents makes for a fantastic atmosphere which seems to improve as the week goes on. I love the opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new ones. The variety of runs makes for a great week.
What is your favourite race or run at Durness?
I love the 15 mile run back from the lighthouse, but my favourite is the Round Durness Run on the Wednesday. It has everything: a variety of running surfaces and fantastic scenery.
What is your favourite part of the week, or favourite thing to do in the area?
I really enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and fun of the Beach Run followed by a hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain. The buffet and ceilidh tops it all off though!
What are you most looking forward to when you return?
Meeting up with old friends in Durness and spending the week catching up with like-minded people. The variety of runs and social events is a bonus and a great excuse for enjoying yourself.
Describe Cape Wrath Challenge week in three words
Friendly, Fun, Variety
Tell us about your all-time favourite run (that's not in Durness!)
The Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon - I ran it two years ago whilst visiting my daughter and it was by far the biggest event I have run in. The fantastic support all the way round the course was unbelievable and really lifted me to a good time. Note: The photo is from that event.
Is there anything else you want to tell the CWC Community?
You are doing a fantastic job and long may it continue! The way everyone gets together is an inspiration and a great example to others. A special mention for the ladies making the soup and sandwiches, which are the perfect way to round off each run! Finally, I was truly honoured to be presented with the Haldane Cup last year - something I will never forget!