Central AC Press Report – National Cross Country 22 February 2015
It was ‘hat’s off’ to Central Athletic Club’s athletes at the Scottish National Cross Country Championships in Callendar Park, Falkirk on Sunday 22 February as the Club defended both Senior Men’s and Women’s Team Titles, regained the Under 20 Men’s Trophy, while Andrew Butchart and Kathryn Gillespie left with Individual Titles.
By the end of the day the scene in Callendar Park was more mud then grass but it was almost raining awards for Central’s athletes with five individual medals, five sets of Team medals plus the prestigious A.T. Mays Trophy for overall top Male Club.
The Senior Mens Race was billed as a head to head between British Cross Country Internationalists Andrew Butchart and last year’s Champion Callum Hawkins of Kilbarchan. With the two leading from the early stages the scene was indeed set for a titanic encounter. However when Andrew put in an uphill effort midway through the race he opened a gap that his rival just couldn’t close. Indeed Andrew made light of the heavy mud to claim victory by some 18 seconds covering the three lap 12,000metre course in an excellent 38min 6secs. Alex Hendry had a strong run as he vied for an individual medal coming through well in fifth (39.33) closely followed by two time former Champion Alastair Hay (sixth; 39.38). The Team title was never in doubt as Ross Houston (ninth; 39.55), Scott McDonald (tenth; 39.59) and John Newsom (15th; 40.32) secured a fifth consecutive Team title with a superb 46 points ahead of a close contest between Shettleston Harriers and Corstorphine AAC. Essential back-up was provided by Conan McCaughey closing in with 26th place (41.35), Cameron Milne (32nd; 41.57), Tom Watson (40th; 42.38) and Michael Wright (50th; 43.10). Robert Russell stuck well to the task to finish 109th (45.32) ahead of strong runs from Will Hensman (114th; 45.42), Chris McHardy (168th; 47.22), David Eckersley (241st; 49.23), Jamie McDonald (256th; 49.48), Attila Emmer (279th: 50.27) and Gordon Applebe (294th; 50.55). As the mud spattered yellow and blue vests kept pouring through Hugh Buchanan (308th; 51.13) caught the eye ahead of Donald Shaw (345th; 52.11), Robin Mussett (379th; 53.37), Fraser Purves (386th; 53.49), Simon Barlow (404th; 54.41), Stuart Watson (422nd; 55.26), Kenny Hislop (443rd; 55.58), Allan Gall (519th; 61.09) and Cameron Campbell (533rd; 62.26) as 26 of Central’s Senior Men completed the race.
‘There wasn’t a big game-plan,’ smiled Butchart, ‘I just wanted to sit in with Callum and then try and kick close to the finish. As it happened, I got a bit of lead going up one of the hills and managed to stretch it a bit I think. You hear shouts about how far the gap is, and you can try and look round a bit, but you are never really sure how much of an advantage you have.
‘I’m delighted to win it, obviously. Every time I race against Callum I enjoy it. It is good to get on the start-line with him and we’ve have some good races this winter. I am guessing we will do it all again at the Inter Counties in Birmingham on 7th March.’
The Senior Women’s race over 8 kilometres was also a tough affair as the course continued to cut up for the later Senior races. Morag MacLarty posted her intentions early and was amongst the leaders throughout gaining a Bronze medal, her top position in the event, with a time of 29.19.
Not far behind was Fiona Thompson (sixth in 29.26) and Jennifer Wetton (eighth in 29.37) who had steadily worked away past some tough opposition to give Central a strong shout for the team title with three of the four team counters in the top ten. Catriona Buchanan (28th; 31.51) duly played her part having progressed through to the front of the large field of over 300 runners to provide Central with team victory. Hazel Dean (89th; 35.03) and Mandy Williams (126th; 36.39) both produced strong runs in the worst of the day’s conditions.
Kathryn Gillespie was Central’s sole runner in the Womens 4.8 kilometres Under 20 race, taking the lead on the first of two laps, and highlighting her superiority as she edged further ahead to a well-deserved victory in 16.59. The Under 17 Womens race was run with the Under 20’s and here Jodie Currie and Eleanor Hanson had a personal battle as they swapped places throughout the race with Jodie 30th in 20.45 and Eleanor 31st in 20.47.
The Under 20 Mens Race was another high quality affair with Central’s Aidan Thompson and Dale Colley seeking individual medals over an 8 kilometre challenge. Aidan’s committed effort saw him take the Silver medal with a 25min 54sec effort while a no less committed run by Dale (26.53) was sufficient for fifth on the day. With Jamie Crowe (16th; 27.45) and Daniel Stansfield (17th; 27.59) closing in the Team scorers and Philip Wright (33rd; 29.55) providing the back-up it was another Team Trophy for Central ahead of Edinburgh and Inverclyde.
Central’s Under 17 Men were well to the fore in their 6400 metre challenge with Cameron Harris sprinting to the line for fourth (21.54) ahead of strong efforts from Iain Davies (20th; 23.08), Euan Brownlee (35th; 23.46), and Bradley Scott (38th; 23.58) as the Club lifted the Team Bronze medals with Jamie Wastling ensuring the all-important back-up in 84th (27.09).
The Under 15 Girls race featured both individual and team medals as Kate Gallagher led in her team with another fine individual Bronze medal, covering the 4 kilometre course in an excellent 14min 33secs. Kate led her Team to Silver medals through excellent efforts from Jenny Walls (15th, 15.37), Lauryn Turnbull (26th, 16.11) and Heather Scott (44th, 16.57) while Hannah Blance stuck well to the task to finish 104th with 19.40.
The Under 15 Boys were always going to find this event a hard challenge and here Keir Howlieson under lined his recent good form as he led home Central’s effort with 51st place covering the 4 kilometre course in 14min 51secs. Tom Graham-Marr (69th; 15.11), Sandy Holl (82nd; 15.31) and Thomas Hanson (114th; 16.54) ensured the Team finished in sixteenth overall with much more to come from this age group in the future.
A strong team commitment from Central’s Under 13 Girls showed great promise over a 3.2 kilometre course with Kyra Gibb (28th; 13.19), Cerys Gilbride (36th; 13.27), Ruby Simpson (40th; 13.33), Ciorstadh Ainsworth (59th; 13.55), Rosie Eckersley (73rd; 14.08), Carrie Banks (84th; 14.22), Darcy Baxter (151st; 16.33) and Lucy More (155th; 16.43) as the Team finished in a fine sixth place overall.
The Under 13 Boys race was also over the 3.2 kilometres and here Ben MacMillan stood out with a fine ninth placing (11.51) ahead of Comhnall Ferguson (24th; 12.11), Jacob Organ (43rd; 12.36),and Callum Byrne (69th; 13.02) with this Team also achieving a fine sixth place. There were close contests throughout the age group so plaudits also go to Daniel Bruce (72nd; 13.02), Cameron Blance (94th; 13.29), Oliver Stewart (99th; 13.35), Charles Robins (111th; 13.48), Cameron Fraser (117th; 13.56), Ben Hughes (121st; 13,58) and David Cunningham (141st; 14.45).
A big thank you to Team Managers Mary Kerr, Derek Easton, John Millar and Hazel Dean for their work throughout the day and to John Dickson for marshalling at the most remote point of the course, during the worst of the weather.
Jennifer Wetton pushes hard for the finishing line as she passes Susan Partridge
Cameron Harris puts in fine sprint finish with a leading under 17 group
Andrew Butchart bides his time on the shoulder of joint favourite, Callum Hawkins, before pushing on to solo victory
Kathryn Gillespie takes the lead on her way to under 20 victory
Ross Houston and Scott McDonald made it four Central finishers in the top 10
Morag MacLarty pulls away from former winner Beth Potter on better ground