GRAHAM Bee ended a decade-long wait to secure his second Northern Scot 10k series title on Saturday.
The Inverness Harrier was a Fife ‘flyer’ when he won the series in 2004 as a teenager, but the trophy was back in his possession at Forres last week.
Bee (29) won the Benromach 10k, repeating his success in the Moray Road Runners’ 10k in Elgin to come out on top of the series rankings.
Team-mate Jenny Bannerman (26) made it a Highland capital one-two by storming to an easy win in the ladies’ race and overall title.
Nearly 200 runners took on the Forres course around the famous whisky distillery in an event which completed the latest Scot series.
Bee recorded his fastest time of the series to win in 32 minutes, 30 seconds, nearly half a minute ahead of reigning champ Gordon Lennox (Forres Harriers).
A former trainee GP at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, Bee finished second to Central runner John Newsom at Nairn before winning the next two.
“I knew I’d done the Northern Scot series once before, but I couldn’t remember when so I checked,” Bee said. “I thought it was about five or six years ago, so it was scary to find out it was a decade.
“I won it then, so it was nice to do it again. Being based in the North I’ll probably try and do it for a few more years now.”
Bee has competed in better quality fields in the Central Belt, but prefers the atmosphere and hospitality of races in the Moray area.
“Everyone is friendly up here and you get a good feed afterwards,” he said. “That’s the difference between these events and the ones down south. Sometimes you pay twice the entry fee down there and you don’t get a hall or food laid on afterwards, so it’s more sociable up here.”
Bee was the only runner to complete the Scot series in under 100 minutes combined, with his Inverness team-mate Dean Cunningham just one second over the magical century mark in second place.
Lennox added second spot in his home club’s race on Saturday to a pair of third places, claiming third overall.
There was no such close contest in the ladies’ series, as Bannerman fulfilled her promise to compete at Benromach just days after competing in the Scottish 5k Championships in Edinburgh.
On Wednesday, she was possibly a matter of inches away from a national bronze medal as she produced the run of her career.
After finishing 10th last year in the Scottish, she beat her PB by 10 seconds to come in fifth, even posting the same time as the third and fourth placed runners in a near photo finish.
“I had decided I wanted to complete the series up here. It’s nice to get my name on the trophy again to show that I’ve had a consistent year, so that made we want to do all three races.
“My legs were alright but it was my body that was tired. I was not going to go full pelt because I have another 10k in a few days (Helensburgh on Thursday) so three in a week is quite a bit to do.”
Bannerman won the Scot series last year but completed her first clean sweep in 2014, matching her victories at Nairn and Elgin.
She was well clear of Inverness team-mate Catriona Fraser, who was second both in the race and the series. First female runners on Saturday were Forres Harriers’ pair Hilary Cameron (4th) and Frances Britain (5th).
Keith and District member Marie Third finished third in the overall series, while there were a number of other Moray successes.
Forres Harriers’ Stan Mackenzie competes in the male 50+ category but beat rivals a decade younger than him to claim the 40+ male veteran series title.
In the male super veteran section, John Goodall (Keith and District) lifted the series trophy ahead of Doug Cowie (Forres Harriers) and Keith Webster (Keith).
Top ladies’ veteran was Sarah Houston (Moray Road Runners), who pipped Ros Wight (Forres Harriers) to the series silverware. Sally Bruce (MRR) took third place by one second.
And there was more success for Forres Harriers in the ladies’ super veteran series competition, as Anne Docherty claimed first ahead of team-mate Elaine Schiavone.