VisitAberdeenshire names world record contenders ahead of the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run

VisitAberdeenshire has named Aberdeen based athletes John Roach and Jim Tole as its world record contenders, as the duo go head to head in an attempt to set a new record for the fastest half marathon time ran wearing a kilt.

The record attempt will take place at the inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run on Sunday 27 August, where John and Jim will attempt to run the 13.1 mile route in under 90 minutes clad in an Alex Scott & Co Kiltmakers kilt. The Guinness Book of Records does not currently have a record set for this challenge, but has stipulated that to be considered as a genuine new world record, the time must be less than 90 minutes.

The race which starts at 10:30 from the city centre’s Union Street, will see runners head north along the beach-front towards the city’s historic Old Aberdeen quarter, before looping back passing iconic landmarks such as Pittodrie Stadium, Marischal College and His Majesty’s Theatre. 

Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire says, “We’ve had a fantastic response to the record attempt with lots of runners keen to represent the North-east in the record books, and we’re sure that John and Jim will do us proud. This is a hugely exciting time for the region, and it’s great to see such a hive of activity this weekend, most notably the collaboration of the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run and Celebrate Aberdeen, which will further strengthen the cultural experience on offer to visitors including the 8,000 runners themselves.

The combination of sports and cultural events help to raise the profile of the city nationally and internationally, and position Aberdeen as a vibrant place to visit.”

Kerry Simpson, communications manager of The Great Run Company, says, “The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run is shaping up to be a day to remember, with thousands of runners of all ages and abilities taking part, and Celebrate Aberdeen staging an afternoon of live music in Union Terrace Gardens. Adding a world record into the mix shows that Aberdeen is a forward thinking and innovative city, and we wish John and Jim the best of luck on the day.”


John, a primary school teacher at Kingsford School, first ran a half marathon in 2002 when he joined his mother-in-law to be at the Chester half marathon. His first attempt at long distance running wasn’t without problems, and thanks to wearing skateboarding shoes, offering little running support, he couldn't climb stairs for the next four days which put him off running for 12 years. It wasn’t until 2014 that John made a return to running at the Baker Hughes 10K, and since he has never looked back.

John’s running career highlights include finishing second in the 2015 Illuminator run at Glen Tanar, and holding the dubious record of slowest first finisher at the Hazlehead Parkrun. This year John is competing in the Scottish Hill Runners Championships. John says, “I really enjoy pushing myself to try new running challenges and they don’t get any bigger than setting a world record. I’m really looking forward to competing in the first Simply Health Great Aberdeen Run, and hopefully setting a record time.”


Jim, a fireman at Aberdeen International Airport was a promising junior runner as a combined services captain in the army, navy and air force. At the age of 23 Jim was however forced to stop running due to an injury, and it would be some 14 years later that he would lace up his running shoes again. In 2012 Jim ran the London Marathon in full fire-fighter gear and breathing apparatus for Aberdeen charities The Archie Foundation and Cash for Kids. He is now a member of the Metro Aberdeen running club, where he has won the proms 3km series and the Round the Castles Cross-country series. Jim says, “I didn’t want to miss the first ever Simply Health Great Aberdeen Run, and had planned to use it as a training run, but now that I have the opportunity to set a world record it’s very exciting. Running in Aberdeen is always fantastic, and the team at the Great Aberdeen run has done a particularly good job in shaping a great route.”