A DISPLAY of guts and determination saw an Alloa woman finish first in the River Ayr Way Ultra Marathon. 

Iona Mackay, 34, showed the steel to emerge victorious in the ladies’ category of the mammoth 40-mile race.

And the runner spoke of her joy at being back to her best after a difficult period, which saw her fall out of love with the sport. 

She told Advertiser Sport: “It was a bit of a shock. I had hoped for top three but I had a great day and felt strong from the start. 

“On the day, it’s a lot to do with mental strength. Usually I have a low point quite early on when you realise how far you’ve got to go but this race wasn’t too technical, so I think that made it easier. 

“A few of us did the West Highland Way Race, which is 95 miles across difficult terrain. After that, I was tired and my running slumped for a bit. 

“But I’ve had a great year this year so it’s onwards and upwards now. It shows that I have got the mental strength again.”

Iona, a member of the Wee County Harriers, completed the event with a personal best of six hours and 26 minutes.

George Furmage, the chairman of the Wee County Harriers, said: “It’s quite a big deal. For Iona to get first place in the ultra is exceptional. She’s very driven. In the past year, she has started going to triathlons, which has helped with the different disciplines. 

“It will give her a huge boost and I think there will be a lot more to come from her in the next few months and years.”