Central AC’s Men’s team continued with winning ways at the National Cross Country Relay Championships as they climbed back onto the top step of the podium for the sixth time in seven years on one of the top days of the Scottish athletics calendar. Following up on a district relay win two weeks previously, Central were amongst the favourites over the tough course at Cumbernauld, but an even more dominant performance here sets the scene for another strong season by the senior men. It was pleasing to see this win backed up by the junior team taking silver medals as the production line looks in good hands.
The Club’s Senior Men with a superb effort over their four legs of 4,000 metres. Matthew Sutherland had been promoted to Central’s first team following his storming run two weeks previously. Matthew didn’t disappoint with his first leg run of 12 minutes 10 seconds to see his team in a close-up eighth position. Cameron Milne had made the trip from his work base in the Netherlands to support the team and produced an excellent effort of 11:51 to pull the team through to first place. Scott Green underlined his previous week’s form with a mature run (11:45) to extend Central’s lead and with Scottish 5,000 metre Champion Alastair Hay (11:38) on the final leg further extending the lead, it was very much ‘job done’ for Central. Kilbarchan AAC were some 46 seconds down in second with Glasgow University Hare and Hounds in third, a further 14 seconds behind.
It had been some eleven years since a Central AC Junior Boys team had mounted the podium at this event so there was some pressure on Under-13 Connor Bell followed by Under-15 Cameron MacMillan and Under-17 Ben MacMillan as they each tackled 2,500 metre legs. Connor again caught the eye with a 9:02 leg to put Central’s A team into close contention for medals. The MacMillan brothers have been running well in the early part of the Season and Cameron backed this up with an 8:42 clocking to keep the team in contention. Ben set off with great intent and he produced a fine 7:59 lap to bring the team home to lift the Silver medals some 17 seconds behind Giffnock North and crucially 12 seconds ahead of Garscube Harriers.
It was a close run thing, but there no prizes for the Central Women’s A team who finished fourth behind Edinburgh University, Victoria Park and Giffnock North teams in the packed senior race. Jennifer Wetton provided a spirited starting leg, with a 14:27 opener over the same course as the men, bringing the team to changeover in 11th place. Lauren McCulloch kept the pace moving and lifted the team to 7th place with her 15:06 leg and passed on to fellow student Rebecca Craig whose gutsy run had the team pegged in 7th place with her 15:11 leg. Morag Millar had the previous year brought off a remarkable chase through the front of the field to bring the team to silver. But this year, the gaps at the front were too large. Despite posting by far the fastest time of the day from some 232 finishers with her 13:01, the team finished in fourth place.
A Central Women’s B team also put in a strong performance, with 17 year old Abby Rowley posting a 15:35 first lap and the team in 24th place at changeover. Catriona Buchanan put in a storming lap to pull the team up to 13th with her 14:29 second leg to pass on to Kim Timmins who ran a 15:43 lap to move the team up to 11th, Becky Hay drafted in at late notice bringing the team home in a creditable 17th place with her 17:33 leg. For the C team it was just three legs, with Kirsten McStay (17:17), Heather Scott (17:57) and junior team manager Mary Kerr in 21:39.
The Central Junior Female teams were a further credit to the club with the top three teams finishing tightly packed in the front half of the race. On the first leg for Under-13 runners, Melissa Turnbull was first home in a great 10th place with her 10:24 leg. Summer McLean took over on the Under-15 leg with gritty 10:42 timing and Rosie Eckersley brought the team home with 10:03 for 24th place. Central’s next team in were Carys Gibb (10:34), Naomi Howlieson (10:58), and Carrie Banks (10:00) with 27th place and a third team were Catriona Kane (10:51), Mirren Henry (Under-13) on second leg with 10:58, and Kyra Gibb (10:12) in 34th place. A Central D team of Brogan McMillan (11:27), Mary Kealey (11:11) and Elizabeth Thompson (11:02) were 54th placed team and an incomplete team made up of Allie Buchanan (11:58) and Megan Dunlop (13:10) also showed great strength in depth for the club.
With all the Central Junior Male team also giving their all as always, the B team of Joshua Kennedy (9:59), Finlay Muir (9:22) and Lewis Dow (8:43) should be pleased with a fine 23rd place. Tom Campbell (10:30), Cameron Kerr (9:03) and Daniel Bruce (9:42) also showed great commitment in the C team to finish 48th. Owen Eckersley led off the D team challenge with 10:47 backed up by two Under-15s Jack Campbell (10:42) and Euan Docherty (10:13) for 82nd overall. The E team of Ruaridh Burns (10:07), Ross Lawrie (11:14) and Cameron Fraser (10:38) also did well in finishing 85th. The large turnout of Central’s Junior Males was completed by two incomplete teams of Dylan McCulloch (12:04) and Ethan Thomson (10:07) and then two Under-13s Alex Dunlop (11:19) and Angus Kennedy (13:21).
It was good to see Central’s Senior Men’s B team finishing in a highly respectable seventh overall through Murray MacLarty (12:28), Lewis Millar (12:21), Conan McCaughey (12:14) and Michael Wright (12:22). Central’s C team were also highly competitive in finishing 17th overall through Jack Kerr (12:33), Tom Graham-Marr (13:15), Dale Colley (12:21) and Sandy Holl (12:46).
There was further tenacity from a Central’s Masters’ team of Iain Dunsmore (15:39), Scott Brember (12:57), Donald Shaw (14:56) and Colin Alexander (15:55) finishing 73rd team overall, while Central’s D team of Telfer Gray (13:17), David Lindsay (14:11), Ben Noad (16:18) and Jens Subke (17:53) came home in 84th.
Special mention should be made of the Over-50 teams of David Eckersley (14:40), Hugh Kerr (15:45) and Hugh Buchanan (16:12) who finished 11th in the class, as well as Cameron Campbell (18:16), Allan Gall (18:32) and John Millar (21:02), 24th in class, who showed the younger athletes a great overall attitude as did a solo run of 17:19 by Raymond Milne.
There’s a 5 minute video of the event on YouTube.