The Scottish Cross Country Championships were once again held in Callendar Park in Falkirk on a bright, cold day and excellent underfoot conditions on this traditionally testing course for all age groups.
Highlight from Central Athletic Club’s viewpoint was the record-equalling eight in a row Senior Men’s Team title plus encouraging Team silvers for the Under-17 Men and Team bronze for the Under-20 Women.
There had been some talk prior to the Championships of Corstorphine AAC hoping to end Central’s seven year winning streak in the Senior Men’s Team event. On the day there was certainly a challenge but Central’s yellow and blue vests soon made their way into top placings to ensure the Team title was retained. Top counter on the day was Alastair Hay in fifth with a classy 33min 58secs clocking over the undulating 10,000 metre course. Aidan Thompson showed real determination to finish ninth (34.25) while Cameron Milne (13th; 34.50) worked well throughout. Scott McDonald (18th; 35.24) showed his normal strong running while Conan McCaughey (25th; 35.32) and Michael Wright (32nd; 35.46) ensured the Club closed in with 102 points, with Corstorphine in second on 122 points and Shettleston Harriers on 149. Matthew Sutherland (34th; 35.54) provided the necessary back-up to the scoring runners.
As the senior runners streamed through there were further improved performances from Murray MacLarty (42nd; 36.25), Fraser Logan (48th; 36.34) and Scott Brember (87th; 37.44). Euan Jack looked committed throughout to finish 189th in 40.31 and there were further strong runs from Neil Cameron (220th; 41.34), Ross McNaught (231st; 41.57), David Eckersley (282nd; 42.51), Donald Shaw (295th; 43.14), Will Hensman (296th; 43.17), Gordon Appelbe (354th; 44.35), Colin Alexander (363rd; 44.50) and Robin Mussett (397th; 45.58). Fraser Purves (410th; 46.27) just held off Hugh Buchanan (411th; 46.28) ahead of Iain Dunsmore (430th; 47.01), Jens Subke (478th; 48.22), Ben Noad (486th; 48.43), Mark Logie (558th; 52.49), Colin Sinclair (562nd; 53.08), Allan Gall (567th; 53.23), Cameron Campbell (574th; 53.51) and Sandy MacLarty (619th; 63.36), an impressive 29 finishers from Central AC.
Central’s Senior Women were also defending champions, but with a thinner team further weakened by illness, seventh club was a good outcome by the team’s top four counters. The course was the same as for the men and this suited marathon specialist Fanni Gyurko, who fought hard for her excellent 8th place finish in 39.40. Catriona Buchanan in 24th place (42.06) and Kim Timmins (36th, 43.38) also featured well to the front end of the race. Hazel Dean (83rd, 47.16), Amy Hendry (102nd, 48.35), Kirsten McStay (116th, 49.59), Becky Hay (130th, 50.55) and Alison Curry (232nd, 58.26) all featured well in a race with 271 finishers.
Central’s Under-17 Men were always in contention for Team medals in their 6.0 kilometre challenge with Ben MacMillan leading Central’s effort in 18th (22.43), backed-up by further sound performances from Tom Graham-Marr (23rd; 22.55), Telfer Gray (25th; 23.10) and Sandy Holl (29th; 23.19), the team just short of topping the podium by two points. It was also good to see Gregor McArthur pit himself against the best in Scotland finishing in a creditable 65th placing in 26 minutes exactly. Central had just a single Under-17 women with Lizzie Stansfield showing up well in 30th, 29.34.
The Under-20 Women’s race of 7.5 kilometres was a tough battle with Central’s Kate Gallagher pushing hard amongst the leading group for early laps of the race. In the end Kate lost the tussle for the individual bronze medal, finishing in fourth place with 29.19. However, she did not come away empty handed as some great running by team-mates Fiona Davies (15th, 32.50) and Eleanor Hanson (33rd, 36.50) gave them bronze team places.
The Under-15 Boys were always going to find their 4.1 kilometre course a tough challenge and here it was Finlay Muir who led Central’s team effort in 38th placing (15.30). Kyle Howie also showed committed running to finish 47th (15.42) ahead of Lewis Dow (64th; 16.12) and Thomas Woods (81st; 16.50) as the Central team finished ninth overall.
In the Under-15 Girls’ race, Carrie Banks had a fantastic race with 9th place in time of 15.58. Grace Tindall (78th; 18.51) and Naomi Howlieson (103rd; 19.31) also ran with great commitment.
The Under-13 Girls’ race was the first race of the day and it looked to go off fine, but the technology of chip timing failed, and the back-up of video recording only took the first 60 finishers so full timings and placing were not available. This did not stop Central’s team making a fine showing. Melissa Turnbull (16th; 13.08) was highly impressive but there were also quality runs recorded from Anna MacKinnon (39th; 13.54), Summer Maclean (45th; 14.05) and Catriona Kane (14.30).
The Under-13 Boys’ race was also over the same 3.1 kilometre course as the Girls and here it was Connor Bell who again caught the eye in finishing ninth (11.48). Cameron MacMillan (26th; 12.28), Euan Campbell (84th; 13.21) and Jack Campbell (150th; 14.18) completed Central’s eleventh placed team with another strong effort from Ross Lawrie (135th; 14.29) in this highly competitive age group.