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Durness athlete Robbie Mitchell wins Strathpuffer 24 hour cycling challenge for first time

By Will Clark

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Robbie Mitchell has been crowned Strathpuffer champion for the first time in his career as he cruised to victory at Contin on Sunday morning.

The Durness athlete came out on top in the 24 hour challenge at Brahan Estate when he completed 26 laps of the 12.5km course in 23 hours and 50 minutes.

He was three laps ahead of defending champion Kyle Beattie from Aviemore who had to settle for second place this year with 23 laps in a time 23 hours 37 minutes and 41 seconds.

Tom Simpson from Crieff claimed third place with 20 laps in a time of 23 hours 50 minutes and 16 seconds.

Robbie Mitchell (centre) celebrates winning Strathpuffer 2023 with Kyle Beattie (left) and Tom Simpson. Picture: Gary Willamson
Robbie Mitchell (centre) celebrates winning Strathpuffer 2023 with Kyle Beattie (left) and Tom Simpson. Picture: Gary Willamson

Mitchell (41) an agricultural engineer, is originally from North Sutherland, but now lives in Duns in the Borders.

He says it was the worst conditions he has ever experienced in the Strathpuffer, but is pleased to have come out on top.

"That is the third time that I have done it solo and those were the worst conditions I have experienced," he said after the race this morning.

"It was rough and muddy and the bikes were taking a hammering.

"Certainly the toughest conditions, we had a bit of everything, the first four or five laps conditions were good which was making it pleasant.

"But after that every single lap we would have showers, sleet and snow.

"It kept us on our toes."

It is Mitchell's fourth consecutive time he has competed in the Strathpuffer, previously riding in 2018, 2019 and 2020, with 2021 and 2022 cancelled due to the pandemic.

He claimed victory in the quad competition in 2018 and finished second in the solo competition in 2020 to Beattie.

In 2021, the endurance cyclist broke the North Coast 500 cycling record when he raced around the 516-mile route in 29 hours, five minutes and 42 seconds.

He held the North Coast 500 record until it was broken by Mark Beaumont last September who clocked a time of 28 hours and 35 minutes.

Mitchell says he has no plans to try and get his North Coast 500 record back, but says he will return to Strathpuffer in 2024.

But he may decide to take part in a team event rather than defend his new solo title.

"This has been a goal for a long time," he said.

"If I come back to the Strathpuffer, I will do it as a team or a pair.

"You could train harder or be in a better position, better condition and something outwith your control, takes it away from you.

"That is not a route I like to go down."

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