Olympian Eve Muirhead OBE Leads Thousands of Cyclists at Etape Caledonia

Gold Medal holder and Olympian Eve Muirhead OBE joined thousands of cyclists from all over the UK pedalling across the Scottish Highlands at Etape Caledonia 2023 today, celebrating the 16th edition of the UK’s original closed-road sportive.

Organised by LimeLight Sports Club, cyclists in their thousands travelled to Pitlochry to take on the sportive, including the event’s oldest ever participant, John McNally, who at 86 has now participated in the event twelve times and completed the 40 mile route in 3h 2m and 45s.

Newly introduced this year was the 55-mile route option, tailored for both experienced cyclists and for those looking to push their limits, providing a third option for cyclists in addition to the event’s existing 40-mile and 85-mile routes. These routes include taking on the mighty Schiehallion climb, passing the beautiful banks of Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel, and passing through picturesque Highland Perthshire villages.

Participants were free to pedal safely at speed on peaceful closed roads, braving the changeable and at times inclement Scottish weather conditions adding more complexity to the challenging distances and inclines. Crossing the finish line in Pitlochry participants and their supporters were able to enjoy the convivial atmosphere of the mass participation sports event, which has given the economy of Highland Perthshire a welcome shot in the arm.

Beginning in Pitlochry at 6.30am this morning from the start line on Atholl Road, participants began arriving back in town at around 8.30am to collect their well-earned medal and enjoy the local hospitality in the Event Village.

The fastest times on the course were set this year by:

  • 40 Mile Route: John Hayes (Men: Time 1h 55m 06s) and Louisa Brown (Women: Time 2h 19m 21s)
  • 55 Mile Route: Tim Baker (Men: Time 2h 51m 13s) and Kate Woodward (Women: Time 3h 27m 56s)
  • 85 Mile Route: Donatas Markevicius (Men: Time 3h 39m 41s) and Rozanne Boynton (Women: Time 3h 59m 19s)

Rozanne Boynton retained her position as fastest female on the 85 mile course for the second consecutive year, knocking a very respectable 7 minutes and 44 seconds off her time from 2022. Louisa Brown, 18 , the youngest female participant, topped the leaderboard for the 40 mile course. Eve Muirhead, a first time participant, finished the 85 mile route in 5h 23 58s and commented:

“To get the chance to do a sporting event like this in my home town, is pretty cool and it’s something I will remember forever.”

Many participants were also fundraising for a range of charities, including Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance, Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, The Brain Tumour Charity, Pancreatic Cancer UK and Revive MS.

Ed Delaney, from Stirling, completed the 85-mile route and celebrated finishing his first mass cycling participation event by having raised, so far, £625 for Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, in memory of his nephew Lorne who passed away at six months old due to serious heart problems.

Steve Biggin, 51, celebrated finishing the 85-mile route in 5h 40m and 20s having already raised over £745 for The Brain Tumour Charity. He recently finished his year-long chemotherapy treatment following an operation to have a brain tumour removed in 2022, and six weeks of intensive radiotherapy, after mistaking the signs . He said:

“Participating in Etape Caledonia is my treat to myself, marking the end of my cancer treatment and is a celebration of being alive, in a beautiful part of the world! It’s an opportunity for me to do what I love doing with my friends, surrounded by good people. Highland Perthshire offers the most beautiful scenery and I just love the views and the fantastic atmosphere Etape Caledonia offers. With all the roads shut for the event, I feel able to enjoy my surroundings without the pressure of having cars around. I’m very grateful to have been given another opportunity to participate.”

James Hogben, Managing Director of Limelight Sports, said:

“We are delighted to be back in Highland Perthshire for the UK’s original closed-road sportive and much loved event amongst the cycling community. Etape Caledonia has long set the pace for cycling sportives and, with the additional route option of 55-miles added this year, continues to innovate and provide challenge and community to those cyclists wishing to push themselves and develop. Taking part in a sportive of this scale, in stunning surroundings and peaceful roads is a tremendous experience and my congratulations go to everyone who has embraced the physical challenge and completed the course. A great achievement!

“As always, all participants received a very warm Scottish welcome from local businesses and the people of Highland Perthshire, who came out in their droves to support our cyclists. It was great to see so many familiar faces of those who love returning year on year to take part. Etape Caledonia is a rite of passage for road cyclists right across the UK, who love the experience of cycling on closed roads among such dramatic scenery. We are looking forward to the next edition which takes place on 12 May 2024.”

For those looking to participate next year, places for Etape Caledonia 2024 are on sale now. To register, please visit: www.etapecaledonia.co.uk