Etape Caledonia rips up the rulebook to allow awesome octogenarian to target another medal in 2018

© DC Thomson
John McNally with his medal from the 2017 Etape Caledonia.

The way has been cleared for a remarkable octogenarian cyclist to take part in next year’s Etape Caledonia.

Cupar man John McNally had feared that he would be barred from taking part due to his 80 years, but he has been assured that he is welcome.

The rules on the event website said competitors up to 80 could take part, leading Mr McNally, who will turn 81 in April next year, to think he wasn’t eligible.

When The Courier took up his case and contacted event organisers IMG there was some dubiety whether the website should have set an age limit but it has now been amended, clarifying the situation.

“I want to clarify it is absolutely fine for John to take part for 2018,” said Katie Hughes, consumer marketing manager of mass participation sports with IMG.

Following the flurry of publicity around Mr McNally’s desire to participate, the company also contacted him directly to stress he will be more than welcome next May.

“I am delighted and cannot thank The Courier enough,” said Mr McNally.

He is already registered and will again be taking part for Marie Curie, a cause he has backed for six years.

80-year-old completes Etape Caledonia cycling challenge — and pleads for chance to do it again in 2018

This year he completed the 81-mile Perthshire event in a respectable 5 hours 34 minutes and isn’t fazed by the revelation that the course might be extended to 100 miles next year.

“I will have to work that bit harder but I will still be there,” said Mr McNally, who has already completed the Etape eight times in the past.

“Though if I had a preference it would be 81 miles!”

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A few days after this year’s event he was out training with the Fife Athletics Club and next year also has the Highland Cross event pencilled in which involves 20 miles on foot and a 30-mile cycle.

Describing it as “a tough 50 miles” Mr McNally is determined to take part as it will be the 20th time he has completed the event from Kintail to Beauly.

Not only is Mr McNally still active in sporting events, he also enjoys globe-trotting and has just returned from a trip to India.