Central AC made the annual foray to Cumbernauld for the National Cross Country Relay Championships, which continues to grow with this year’s record entry of over 2,500 athletes. With race squads covering all ages and abilities, the club were well satisfied with three medal winning top teams, and great levels of participation throughout the huge fields of runners.
Central’s women athletes brought home two sets of silver medals to runners spanning ages from 17 to 64 while Central’s Senior Men also climbed onto the podium with bronze medals. The Central Senior Women’s team took second place behind Edinburgh University despite the Central team starting with many uncertainties, with Morag MacLarty just back to full training only a few days before the race and Catriona Buchanan doing little racing this summer. Their experience was balanced by the youth of two 17-year-olds, Lauren McCulloch and Kate Gallagher.
Catriona led off on a combative first of four legs of 4,000 metres in 15min 11secs to bring the team to the first changeover in tenth place in a field headed by Edinburgh University. Morag MacLarty quickly dispelled doubts about her fitness as she set about reeling in the nine teams in front of her to post the fastest time of the day of 13:51 turning a 1min 10sec deficit into a full minute lead over next placed Aberdeen at changeover. Meanwhile the Edinburgh University team had dropped to fourth place a further minute in arrears. First team debutant, Lauren McCulloch, set about the third leg in confident manner and her time of 15:24 held Central in first place. Kate Gallagher ran strongly with a fine 15:11 timing but could not hold off Steph Pennycook, seasoned international runner from Edinburgh University, but a silver medal placing was a great achievement for the team.
Central Athletic Club’s Senior Men made a determined effort over their four legs of 4,000 metres. It was good to see Scott McDonald back in form to complete the first leg in fourth spot with a 12min 37secs effort. Lewis Millar proved his fitness with a 13:17 timing and the team in fifth place. Aidan Thompson’s superb 12:40 on the third leg saw the team in second behind a resurgent Inverclyde AC. There was a dramatic final leg as Aberdeen overtook Central’s Cameron Milne (12:49) who then held off a fast finishing Shettleston Harriers to bag the bronze medals.
Central’s second women’s team was led off by Claire Houston with a 19th placing with her 15:34 lap, Kim Timmins fought hard to keep the team in 21st place with her 17:12 effort. Under-20 Eleanor Hanson held 21st position with 18:06 to hand on to final lap runner Natalie Milne. In a unique weekend of contrasts and dedication, Natalie completed her race as part of her wedding weekend celebrations, tying the knot on Friday afternoon and racing at Cumbernauld on Saturday before heading to her honeymoon. Natalie’s time of 16:25 pulled the team up to a creditable 15th place. A third team of Fiona Davies (18:16, 48th), Becky Hay (18:52, 45th) and Kirsten McStay (18:52, 38th) also did the Club proud with impressive runs.
Central had two Women’s Masters’ teams running alongside the Senior Women. The W40 team finishing in 17th place through Alison Currie (21:18, 20th), Mary Kerr (21:47, 18th) and Lee Houghton (22:17, 17th) in a cumulative time of 65:22. The Central W50 team ran superbly throughout to take a second set of silver medals through Hazel Dean (17:29, second), Jane Waterhouse (19:34, second) and mother of the bride, Trish Milne, posting the fastest team time with 17:17 to bring the team home with 54:20 in second place behind Edinburgh AC.
There was further great endeavour from Central’s Senior Men’s ‘B’ team through Fraser Logan (13:44, 31st), Ruaridh Miller (13:26, 20th), Scott Brember (13:36, 17th) and Michael Wright finishing in 13:29 for 16th overall. It was good to welcome back Murray MacLarty to Central’s ‘C’ team here running 13:27 for 21st, back-up from Matthew Sutherland (13:46, 21st), David Lindsay (14:37, 25th) and Ross McNaught with 15:42 saw the team finish in 32nd placing.
There was further true resolve from Central’s Masters’ teams through Colin Alexander (16:34), Hugh Buchanan (16:34), Fraser Purves (16:21) and Donald Shaw (17:04) to finish 17th team in this category. More endeavour was shown by Raymond Milne (18:01), Jason Saunders (17:26), Hugh Kerr (16:55) and Mark Logie (18:08) with the team in 24th of the Masters’ teams.
For the Men’s Over-50 race the teams comprised 3 runners, and Central’s fastest team finished 7th after strong runs by David Eckersley (15:03), Charles Graham-Marr (16:08) and Stuart Watson (17:33), with the club’s representation completed in 20th place by Cameron Campbell (20:00), Allan Gall (19:13) and John Millar (21:44).
The Junior Girls’ team combined Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 legs of 2,500 metres. The Central lead team took a creditable 16th place through Anna MacKinnon (11:06, 28th), Kyra Gibb (10:11, 15th) and Rosie Eckersley (10:17, 16th). The other Central teams who showed great determination were Mary Kealey (11:40, 52nd), Brogan McMillan (12:08, 64th) and Bethany Burch (11:15, 51st) plus Mirren Henry (11:44, 55th), Amy Cully (11:30, 50th) and Heather Scott (11:59) close behind in 53rd. Erin Miller (12:49, 84th) and Summer McLean (11:45, 72nd) also ran well but had an incomplete team.
Central’s Junior Boys teams also ran 2,500 metre legs and here Under-13 Connor Bell set off with real purpose to complete his leg in 9min 34secs backed up by Under-15 Finlay Muir (9:36) and Under-17 Keir Howlieson (9:08) with this ‘A’ team finishing 20th overall. The ‘B’ team of Cameron Kerr (9:51), Cameron Fraser (11:07) and Tom Graham-Marr (8:48) produced another strong showing for the club in 40th overall. There were further solid performances from Owen Eckersley (11:16), Ben Angus Hughes (11:08) and Sandy Holl (9:10) in the ‘C’ team, finishing 66th. Brothers Cameron MacMillan (9:55) and Ben MacMillan (8:50) made up an incomplete team, both running strongly.