Road Cycling

Coronavirus: The ultra runner finding ‘lockdown positives’ – BBC News

Image copyright Phil O’Connor
Image caption Roddy Riddle is a former competitive cyclist and competed at the 1994 Commonwealth Games

Roddy Riddle is a former Commonwealth Games cyclist with a passion for running.

In 2017, the Inverness athlete was the first Scot to finish the gruelling 350-mile 6633 Ultra marathon above the Arctic Circle.

Four years earlier, he completed a marathon in the Sahara Desert.

This year he had started his final preparations for a new ultra event being held as part of the Loch Ness 360 Challenge. It was to be his first ultra since 2017’s sub-zero 6633 Ultra in Canada, but it has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Riddle, who competed in road race cycling at the 1994 Commonwealth Games and has Type 1 diabetes, has adapted his fitness regime, along with the rest of his life, to the lockdown and social distancing.

He has put running on hold for now and is instead marching, completing several miles of the fast-paced walking each day on routes close to home.

“I am lucky that I live on the outskirts of Inverness. I can go out to near the farm where I grew up and not meet a single person,” he said.

“I can go up a nearby hill and look out over Inverness and towards Fort George. I live in a beautiful part of the country. I take none of it for granted.”

Image copyright Roddy Riddle
Image caption Roddy during his ultra run above the Arctic in 2017

The lockdown has given him more time with his family, including his son Alasdair, 16, who has taken an interest in road cycling.

Riddle said: “Alasdair hadn’t really been that interested before. He plays football with Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s under-18s.”

But with no football because of lockdown restrictions, Alasdair has been getting some coaching on road cycling from his dad and is achieving top 10 times for completing Inverness’ toughest road race hill climbs.

“He refuses to wear Lycra cycling gear. I have a loft full of Lycra,” said Riddle, who added: “He is doing all these hill climbs in baggy football kit.”

For the rest of the time in recent weeks Riddle has been doing DIY, joining the family for online quizzes including the popular local Holm Primary School’s Thursday evening quiz and has started writing a book about his adventures in cycling and running.

“I think it is right the lockdown remains in place for at least another few weeks to help people to be safe,” said Riddle. “I felt proud to be a Scot when the decision was taken not to relax the restrictions now.”