On a day where mud caught many of the headlines, Central AC’s cross country teams fought hard for top honours in both the East District League race in Alloa and the European Cross Country Trials in Liverpool. In the second match of the East District League at Alloa, Central’s senior ladies took an individual win through Fanni Gyurko and the team win, also matched by the Under-17 men’s squad. The senior men’s squad split their forces with teams in both Liverpool and at Alloa, where they were still able to hold onto overall league position. The tough test facing all the athletes competing at Lornshill by Alloa, on a biting cold day with long hilly trails and ankle-deep mud in places, saw over 60 Central athletes of all abilities pitting themselves the conditions.
The Senior Women’s race was over a very testing course of 6.2 kilometres and the Central team was led home by Fanni Gyurko. She repeated her win from the first league match in similar fashion, with a steady start before pulling away for a commanding victory in 24.56. Catriona Buchanan also tussled with the front runners for a fine 4th place in 25.17 and Claire Houston continued to improve with 14th place in 26.33. A strong team performance was underlined by strength throughout the large field through Hazel Dean (39th, 29.15), Amy Hendry (50th, 30.37), Kirsten McStay (52nd, 30.48), Becky Hay (53rd, 30.53), Alison Curry (95th, 35.46) and Lee Houghton (101st, 37.16). The Central women’s top team place on the day moved them up to top the league.
The Senior Men’s 9km race saw Matthew Sutherland finish in a fine fourth place (32.03) as he led the team to second club on the day, but still ahead in the league. Scott Brember, in 10th was the top veteran on the day clocking 32.57 ahead of Ruaridh Miller (11th, 33.11) and Murray MacLarty (12th, 32.12). Lewis Millar (18th, 33.51) led in Fraser Logan (25th, 34.19) and Michael Wright (26th, 34.26). Chris McHardy completed his effort in 72nd with 37.53 followed in by David Lindsay (76th, 32.57), David Eckersley (102nd, 39.46), Donald Shaw (121st, 40.39), Charles Graham-Marr (126th, 40.51), Robin Mussett (148th, 42.15), Iain Dunsmore (158th, 43.12), Ben Noad (159th, 43.17), Talat Aidi (203rd, 48.10), Allan Gall (210th, 49.15) and Colin Sinclair (212th, 49.59).
The Under-11 Girls race was first race off and featured another strong team performance over the 1,700 metre race from the Lornshill school fields through the woods to the top of the notorious Gubber Hill and a fast return to the school. The team took a fine second team place through determined running led in by Carys Gibb (5th, 7.22), sister Leya Gibb (7th, 7.31), Niamh McKinlay (21st, 7.56), Connie Bateman (53rd, 9.38) and Tabitha MacKenzie (54th, 9.47).
The Under-11 Boys faced the same arduous 1,700 metre test as the Under-11 Girls and competed with their normal enthusiasm through Joshua Kennedy (fourth, 6min 40sec), Aaron Middleton (18th, 7.06), Ossian Arkotxa (36th, 7.24), Logan Bell (74th, 8.30) and Dylan McCulloch (79th, 9.12) with the team finishing fourth overall.
The Under-13 Boys had to tackle a 3 kilometre course with Cameron MacMillan finishing ninth (11.44), backed up by Connor Bell (11th, 11.48), Euan Campbell (33rd, 12.27), Euan Docherty (49th, 13.03), Ross Lawrie (85th, 15.05) and Finlay Marchant (92nd, 15.47) and the team in a great fourth place.
The Under-13 Girls race had a great turnout by Central racers as they took seventh team place over their 3 kilometre lap. Amy Cully (24th, 13.34) won a close battle with her team mates in the finishing phase of the race just ahead of Anna MacKinnon (25th, 13.34), Summer MacLean (28th, 13.48), with more great running by Catriona Kane (29th, 14.01), Brogan McMillan (36th, 14.16), Mary Kealey (38th, 14.19), Erin Miller (47th, 14.52), Ellen Montgomery (65th, 17.22) and Hana Littlejohn (67th, 18.26).
The Under-15 Boys had to wait until late in the day and faced a 3.8 kilometre course and here it was Lewis Dow in 18th with 15.42, Finlay Muir (22nd, 15.55) and Cameron Fraser (49th, 19.06) who did the Club proud. In the Under-15 Girls event, Carrie Banks ran an accomplished race to bag 7th place in 16.32.
The Under-17 Men added to the Central honours over their two lap challenge of 6.2 kilometres winning the team event in this age group with Tom Graham-Marr taking a fine third place with 22.45 with back-up by Ben MacMillan (eighth, 23.38), Keir Howlieson (ninth, 23.39) and Gregor McArthur (24th, 25.22).
Six of Central Athletic Club’s senior athletes travelled to Liverpool at the weekend to compete in the British Athletics Cross Country Challenge with places in the European Cross Country Championships and European Club Championships at stake.
This year the Club Championship was a show-down between Central AC representing Scotland, Tonbridge AC for England and Swansea Harriers for Wales and hopes were high for the men especially with Andrew Butchart back in club colours. With mud again a dominant factor here, Andrew had to settle for fifth, covering the 9.8 kilometre course in 30 minutes 37 seconds, just outside of automatic selection for European honours.
In this highly competitive race Alastair Hay came through in 37th (32.15), closely followed by Cameron Milne (42nd, 32.28). Aidan Thompson weighed in with a gritty 52nd place run with 32.45 while fellow student Jamie Crowe made the trip from his USA base to finish 59th with 32.53. Chris Smithard improved from 139th in 2016 to finish 98th with 33.56.
On final countback Tonbridge AC proved stronger on the day by just 2 points from Central with Tonbridge finishing as UK Club Champions to take the British Club spot into a European match later in the winter.
Two of the Club’s Under-20 athletes set off to prove themselves against the best in Britain and here Kate Gallagher finished 14th, covering the 4.4 kilometre course in 16 minutes 7 seconds while Lauren McCulloch was 50th in 17.41. With both girls in the first year of this age group these were excellent results.