Ross Creber sets new fastest time in Scotland’s most extreme triathlon

Ross Creber on bike during Celtman 2024
Reigning champion Ross Creber sets new course record in Celtman! Extreme Scottish Triathlon (Image credit: Alligin Photography)

An endurance athlete swam 3.4km in a cold sea loch, cycled a challenging 200km bike route and then ran 42km over two rugged mountains to set a new record time of just 10 hours and 50 minutes in an notoriously tough long-distance triathlon. 

Ross Creber, 34, led for most of the Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon – and, in his third consecutive win, he set a new highest bar by six minutes. 

He said: ”I am delighted to win and amazed to have set a new course record.”

In the women’s race, Eilidh Prise also set a new record. She beat her own fastest time in 2021 by 29 minutes to finish in 12:39.

The 28-year-old revealed it was her cycling that gave her the edge: “When I did my first Celtman I was quite new to cycling. This year, I put in constant training and I have been cycling a lot more. While my swim and run times were similar to before I shaved time in on the bike.”

Eilidh Prise emerging from loch after swim

Eilidh Prise won the women's Celtman race – and set a new record (Image credit: Alligin Photography)

What is the Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon?

The Celtman takes place on the coast of the Scottish Highlands in Wester Ross. Competitors swim 3.4km in jellyfish-infested Atlantic waters. The water in Loch Shieldaig is consistently cold. 

“The last part of the swim was in water of only 10°C," said Creber. "I was really cold by T1 and it took me a long time on the bike section to feel warm again.”

The 200km bike route runs through spectacular highland roads, taking competitors along historic single track passes and undulating coastal roads. The route includes a punishing 2,200m of climbing and can be affected greatly by the wind.

The final section of the triathlon is a 42km run over two mountains known as Munros. In Scotland, any mountain over 3000ft (914.4m) is classed as a Munro and runners must tackle two on the Beinn Eighe range. The rugged route adds up to 1,600m of ascent and descent. 

Ross Creber on Celtman run with run supporter

Creber runs with supporter on the challenging mountain course of the Celtman 2024 (Image credit: Alligin Photography)

Pressure of expectation

When Creber first took part in the Celtman in 2022, it was his first triathlon. Competing for the third time this year, he felt the pressure of expectation.

"There was a lot of pressure going into the race because it was my third time and people now associate me with the triathlon," he said. "I also found myself in the lead from early on in the bike section and that made the race harder because I didn’t know what is going on behind me and whether anyone was about to catch me.

"On the run, I knew that other competitors were not far behind. I had to push even harder and make sure my descent was fast. In the end, I managed to win by 17 minutes, which I am really pleased about."

Creber also completed a fastest time of 5:17 on the bike course. Both Creber and Prise rode carbon Argon 18 time trial bikes. "The bike made a big difference on the Celtman course," said Prise.

Eilidh Prise on bike course

Eilidh Prise rode an Argon 18 time trial bike (Image credit: Alligin Photography)

Robin Downie has finished as runner up to Ross three times. His time this year was 11:07. In third place was Iain Veitch in 12:01. 

Second and third place in the women’s race went to Estera Zak in 13:47 and Jenny Nilsson in 14:08.

Creber, who is supported by Zalaris and Rab Equipment, has decided to have a break from the Celtman mnext year. He said: “It’s a good time to do a different race, especially as I’ve set a new course record.” 

For this year's full results, see: Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.