The final match of the East District Cross Country League was played out at Deans Country Park in Livingston on Saturday 19 January. Central Athletic Club’s runners were faced with frozen paths causing all to think whether spikes, trail shoes or trainers were the correct footwear. Highlights were Morag Millar winning the Senior Women’s race and Scott Brember coming home as first veteran in the Senior Men’s race.
As always the day commenced with the Under-11 races with both the girls and boys facing 1.6 kilometre runs. There was a good turnout of Under-11 girls with Leah Gibb leading home Central’s challenge finishing in an excellent fourth place with a 6 minutes 44 seconds timing. Niamh McKinlay did well to finish in 16th (7.01) and was followed home by further useful runs from Lauren Stewart (33rd; 7.27), Isla Henry (48th; 7.51) and Ciara Middleton (51st; 7.53) with the girls finishing as third team on the day and third across the season. Ray Taylor was the only Central Under-11 boy to face the challenge and here finished in a superb third place with another assured performance of 6 minutes 9 seconds.
The Under-13 girls and boys had a full 3.2 kilometre lap of the course to negotiate and here Carys Gibb was the first Central girl, finishing in a fine eleventh place (13.11). Just a few strides behind, Catriona Kane finished in twelfth (13.13), and with Mirren Henry in 15th (13.34), the girls finished as third team, again third across the season. Back-up here was provided by Brogan McMillan (53rd; 16.44) and Izzy McGuire (17.31). There was also a good turnout of Central’s Under-13 boys with Connor Bell always challenging at the front of the race and here finishing third in 11 minutes 11 seconds. Aaron Middleton also proved highly competitive in twelfth (12.05) with Joshua Kennedy (24th; 12.28) also well in the mix as the team finished third on the day. There was no doubting the commitment of Sam Gardner (57th; 13.34), Alex Dunlop (62nd; 13.45), Henry Crossley (75th; 14.16) and Dylan McCulloch (83rd; 14.47), with the boys all finishing well and more will be heard from this group in future.
Heidi Eik-Maxwell was the sole Central athlete stepping up for the Under-15 and Under-17 Girls 4 kilometre test finishing her run as 31st Under-15 Girl in exactly 19 minutes. Euan Docherty had a sound run to finish 28th (15.58) in the Under-15 Boys race backed up by Enrique Mendez (46th; 18.09) and Ross Lawrie (46th; 19.04). Sam Burton was the only Central Under-17 Man to tackle the 6.4 kilometre two lap course and although finding this a real test will have learned much from the experience in finishing 32nd (27.38).
Morag Millar attacked the Senior Women’s 6.4 kilometre course from the gun and produced an excellent front running performance to win by over a minute in 22 minutes 35 seconds. Fanni Gyurko fought hard on the last lap with former Scottish Cross Country Champion Freya Ross and only lost out on the final run-in by 2 seconds, coming home in 23.44 in third. Amy Hendry provided a much improved performance in finishing 39th (26.31) and with veteran runner Hazel Dean finishing 54th (28.58), Central’s team finished fourth.
Michael Wright (31.18) proved to be the pick of the Central runners in the Senior Men’s team coming home eighth over a 9.6 kilometre 3 lap course. Scott Brember was once again the top veteran on the day, finishing 16th overall in 31.58 while Under-20 runner Telfer Gray came through in 53rd (34.13). Dale Colley and Lewis Millar crossed the line together in 70th and 71st places with both recording 35.30. Will Hensman (110th; 37.40) and veteran runner David Eckersley (112th; 37.42) battled to the line and there were further solid runs from Donald Shaw (155th; 39.52), Iain Dunsmore (161st; 40.29), Hugh Buchanan (166th; 40.45) and Colin Alexander (186th; 41.37). It was good to welcome back Roger Greenaway who finished 188th with 41.48 while Allan Gall (238th; 45.52) again prevailed in his own personal contest with Cameron Campbell (240th; 46.01).
Scotland teams were in cross country action in Belfast over the weekend coming home with a clutch of medals. The British Cross Challenge races at Dundonald doubled up as both the Celtic Cross Country Championships plus the Home Countries Cross Country. It was a format which seemed to work well, even if it added somewhat to the workload for those tasked with distributing medals!
The Senior races featured a number of international athletes from outside Britain as well as strong English opposition. So testament to Central’s Alastair Hay as he proved to be Scotland’s top performer in the Senior Men’s race, finishing twelfth overall and covering the 10 kilometre course in a tasty 31 minutes 42 seconds.
In the Under-20 race Central’s Hamish Hickey had another good run to finish tenth, covering the 5 kilometre course in 19 minutes 45 seconds, and awarded a team gold for Scotland with his team packing well.