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Couple conquer picturesque Rio half marathon

Shetland couple Annie McKee and Grant Johnson after completing the Rio half marathon on Sunday.

A COUPLE from Shetland enjoyed the thrill of completing a half marathon in picturesque Rio de Janeiro at the weekend.

Twenty six year old Annie McKee and 30 year old Grant Johnson, who live together in Papil, Burra, made the trip to South America and enjoyed some stunning scenery on the 13-mile course which took in Sugar Loaf Mountain and several beaches including the iconic sands of Copacabana.

Grant made it into the top 100 too – placing 95th out of over 10,000 runners in a time of one hour and 28 minutes during Sunday’s race.

A place in the Brazilian half marathon was Annie’s gift to fiancé Grant for his thirtieth birthday back in November.

She successfully tackled the course too, finishing in a time of two and a half hours in what Annie says is the “one and only” half marathon she will complete, as she normally prefers 10km distances.

“Grant is a keen runner and had previously taken part in the Edinburgh half and London full marathons, so I thought he would appreciate the gift,” Annie said.

The half marathon course finish line was just above the beach on the right hand side of this photo.

“It was also a good excuse to book a holiday to South America. The experience was brilliant, the course was absolutely stunning!”

The half marathon began in the Barra district of the city, with competitors gathering in the dark at 5am for a 6.45am start. The race was run in temperatures of around 23C, but with significant humidity.

“It was already getting hot and humid,” Annie said. “Unlike races Grant used to, the competitors were not divided into time-predicted pens, so all runners were together at the race start line.

“We ended up quite near the back so it made for an interesting first few miles. It was okay for me being slower, but Grant found it quite difficult to get going having to dodge around people.”

She said they had deliberately worn lots of clothing, even on nice days, during training in order to get accustomed to the heat. The humidity was still “a bit of a killer”, but regular water and Gatorade stops did help.

Annie added that it was an “amazing experience” and they would both “highly advise everyone to run the Rio de Janeiro half if they get the chance – you would struggle to find a more beautiful course”.