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5,000 Cyclists Complete 81-Mile Marie Curie Etape Caledonia 2015

by Nick Gregory

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5,000 Cyclists Complete 81-Mile Marie Curie Etape Caledonia 2015

  • Oldest participant to take part was 77-year-old James Morrison of Aberdeen
  • 20% of entrants were female, an increase of 6% in the past three years
  • More than 900 participants raised money for Marie Curie Cancer Care
  • More than 400 participants took part from all boards of NHS Scotland

On Sunday 5,000 cyclists from all corners of Scotland and across the UK took part in the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia, the UK's premier closed road sportive, where more than £380,000 was raised for the Official Charity Partner, Marie Curie. 

Joined by Commonwealth Games 2014 Double Silver Medallist Louise Haston, the cyclists began at the crack of dawn to navigate the stunning 81-mile closed road course, covering a total ascent of 1,196m. Damp conditions didn't faze the riders, with the atmosphere building from their starting pens, they set-off determined and in high spirits from Pitlochry.

Taking in the stunning Perthshire scenery, riders meandered around Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch before approaching the steeps of Schiehallion and returning to Pitlochry to crowds of cheering supporters.

Speaking at the finish line, Louise Haston enthused: "I've had an incredible day at the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia, the atmosphere in Pitlochry and along the course has been absolutely brilliant. It's been a challenging ride but one I'll remember for a long time because of the smiling faces and friendliness of everyone I've had the opportunity to meet along the way!"

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Taking on the challenge on behalf of the Official Charity Partner Marie Curie, nearly 1,000 riders helped raise more than £380,000. These vital funds will help Marie Curie to support even more terminally ill people and their families.

James Wright from Marie Curie commented: "It's been another fantastic year for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia. A huge thank you to all the cyclists and everyone who turned out to support what was a spectacular event. We've been amazed by everyone's fundraising efforts which will enable us to help more people living with a terminal illness, and their families across the UK."

Credited as the UK's first closed road sportive back in 2007, the sportive quickly established itself as a bucket list event within the cycling community. Selling out general entry places to the 2015 edition in less than three days, the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia is one of the pinnacle events in the UK's cycling calendar.

Raising vital funds for Marie Curie Andrew Aitken, from Creiff, rode the event in memory of his father, who was cared for by Marie Curie nurses prior to his death in December last year.

In what he called his 'Mammoth May for Marie Curie' Andrew is also running a marathon and completing two triathlons this month. Andrew initially hoped to raise £800 for Marie Curie but has now raised more than £1,500 and is aiming for a fantastic £2,000.

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Andrew commented: "I'd have liked to get under four and a half hours, I was two minutes over but I'm still really pleased with that. I was in a decent group for a large part of the route which really helped, we all seemed to work well off each other and there was a great atmosphere throughout.

It feels really good to give something back after all the support my family received from Marie Curie last year. People have been really generous in supporting me with sponsorship for this great cause and I'm really happy that I've now ticked off two of this month's challenges - now just a triathlon and a marathon to go!"

The 22-strong Bay Horse Velo (BHV) team from North Yorkshire were also amongst the riders supporting Marie Curie today. Already surpassing their £10,000 fundraising target, the BHV took part in the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia in honour of former club rider Kevin Dobson, who sadly died from mouth cancer last year. With ages ranging from 39 to 62, most of the team live near the village of Hutton Rudby at the foot of the Cleveland Hills but roped in friends from across the country to join them for this fundraising event.

Bay Horse Velo's team leader, Johnnie Cooper, said: "The team have been amazing, I'm really proud of them. Between us we've raised more than £12,000 which we're so happy about. Even though it was raining the scenery was still absolutely beautiful and we've had a fantastic day."

Hopeful participants for the 2016 Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia are able to register their interest online. Those who register will get an exclusive 48 hour priority window to enter the event when places go on sale later this year.

More information can be found at www.etapecaledonia.co.uk.