Pictures Courtesy of Etape Caledonia

The 2013 Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia has hardly finished before “Expressions of Interest” in NEXT YEAR’S have opened. The organisers, IMG Challenger World, say they’re “still buzzing” from the success of this weekend’s event in Perthshire. There’s been so much interest and enthusiasm that they’ve opened up pre-registration for the 2014 event which will take place on Sunday 11th May. What that means is that those who’ve signed up will get an exclusive 24 hour window to enter the event when places go on sale later this year. Given that all 5000 places sold out in just 72 hours for this year’s Etape, those 24 hours could make all the difference to those budding cyclists hoping to take on the 81 mile cycling challenge.

Pete Wishart MP and  Isobel Paul of Marie Curie Cancer Care Start the Race
Pete Wishart MP and
Isobel Paul of Marie Curie Cancer Care Start the Race
Thousands of cyclists gathered on the start line alongside household names and adventurers who heard a rousing Scottish welcome from Member of Parliament for Perth & North Perthshire, Pete Wishart before setting off on their Highland Perthshire adventure at 6.30am in the morning.

The course was a challenging one. Starting in Pitlochry, the riders went along Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch, then back round Schiehallion before making their way through the Tay Forest Park, heading a short distance up Glen Lyon before turning back towards Aberfeldy with the finish, over 80 miles later, back in Pitlochry. The route included two technical sections; the Scott Sprint and the King of the Mountains — the former a 1km section mainly on the straight and flat; the latter a 2.1km, Category 4, climb.

Winner Tom Arnstein crossing the finish line
Winner Tom Arnstein crossing the finish line
The fastest time around the course was 18 year old Tom Arnstein, a business studies undergraduate at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. Originally from Burnt Island in Fife, he made it in 3 hours 28 minutes 32 seconds, just 54 seconds behind course record set in 2011. The fastest female was 39 year old Ashley Pearson from Aberdeenshire who was riding with a team from Deeside Thistle. She set a new course record time for women of 3 hours 45 minutes and 41 seconds, that’s seven minutes off the previous record.

James Robinson, IMG Challenger World, was “absolutely delighted with how well the event went this weekend. Once again, there was a real festival atmosphere at the finish line in Pitlochry and it was fantastic to see so many cyclists crossing it with proud smiles. Feedback has been extremely positive with everyone commenting on the stunning scenery on the route and the unique opportunity to enjoy these vistas on safe and traffic free roads.” He thanked Marie Curie Cancer Care, Perth & Kinross Council and the many sponsors who helped make it “a fantastic experience for cyclists.”

Rob Wainwright  former Scotland Rugby captain
Rob Wainwright
former Scotland Rugby captain
Isobel Paul, Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Scottish Events Manager, said that everyone from the charity had “loved being a part of this amazing event and seeing all the cyclists cross the finish line. We’re especially proud of all the cyclists who have completed today’s challenge to raise money for us.”

Meanwhile, for those participants who have firmly caught the cycling bug, there are still some general entry places left for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines and Etape Mercia.

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David Calder has been a broadcast journalist for over 30 years. Before moving to the Caledonian Mercury, he worked for the BBC (national and regional) as well as parts of ITV and the World Service. He worked for prestigious programmes such as The Money Programme, You & Yours, Today and The World at One. He spent two years making mini-documentaries for Radio 5 Live and was a regular correspondent for CBC (Radio Canada). He was a regular reporter on various news and current affairs programmes on BBC Scotland as well as producing or presenting (sometimes both) science, legal affairs and arts programmes. As well as his contributions to the Caledonian Mercury, he is also a freelance producer in Scotland for the satellite channel, Al Jazeera.