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Buckie school friends use pedal power for 400 mile charity cycle run from John o' Groats to Murrayfield in memory of their pal


By Pat Scott

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Charity cyclists Ian Johnston and Jamie Ritchie at John o' Groats on Wednesday morning.
Charity cyclists Ian Johnston and Jamie Ritchie at John o' Groats on Wednesday morning.

SEVEN men from Buckie who were all school friends this morning begun a marathon cycle run in memory of a childhood friend who took his own life ten years ago.

Ian Johnston, Jamie Ritchie, Calum Smith, Donald Mckay, Stuart Campbell, Kristopher Shearer and Alexander Innes are cycling from Scotland's most northerly point John o Groats to Murrayfield, in memory of Greg Smith their pal at Buckie High School where he was head boy and a fellow member of Buckie Boys Brigade.

The route was chosen to culminate at Murrayfield where Greg played rugby at a high level for Murrayfield Wanderers.

Work commitments mean that some of the lads can only cycle part of the way but bright and early and under blue skies on Wednesday morning, Ian Johnston and Jamie Ritchie left John o' Groats on day one of the 400 plus mile journey.

The route has been planned using the Huli app which selects cycle routes away from the main A and B roads to avoid traffic but which are still of a reasonable standard for cycling.

The first night's stop is in Dornoch and day two will see, Calum Smith, Greg's brother, and Donald McKay join the cyclists as they make their way to Grantown on Spey.

The four cyclists will become six when Stuart Campbell and Kristopher Shearer join for the Grantown on Spey to Pitlochry leg of the trip and for the final day Alexander Innes will complete the team for the ride into Murrayfield where friends and family will be waiting for them.

Charity cyclists Ian Johnston and Jamie Ritchie with support driver Callum Ritchie at John o' Groats on Wednesday morning.
Charity cyclists Ian Johnston and Jamie Ritchie with support driver Callum Ritchie at John o' Groats on Wednesday morning.

Callum Ritchie is providing back up in a van provided by Charlie Milne of Regency Cars.

Ahead of setting off, Ian Johnston said: "It was a bit of a challenge to plan and prepare through lockdown but once we were allowed, being able to get out on our bikes together was a blessing.

"We have such good memories of Greg so while we are very much aware of his absence, being together helps and we talk about him and look back on our school days all the time."

Last weekend, as her contribution to the fund raising effort, Greg's sister Ailie completed a half marathon at Inverurie.

The group are raising money for the Scottish men's mental health charity Brothers in Arms and had set a target of £2000 but had broken the £6000 mark by the time they set off.

Addison Tyres in Buckie have been running prize draw fundraisers.

Anyone who would like to contribute in support of the cyclists should go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ride400-brothers-in-arms.


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