Central AC brought home a full set of gold-silver-bronze medals from the National Cross Country Relay Championships, with the Senior Men’s record-breaking seventh title in eight years winning justified plaudits for the performances over the hills of Cumbernauld Park.
The challenge facing Central AC Senior Men was to step to the top of the podium with other top line-up clubs and athletes desperate to cause an upset in the four leg cross country relay over legs of 4km. Cameron Milne was given first leg duties and a well-judged effort of 12 minutes 12 seconds saw Cameron hand over in second place some 4 seconds down on Glasgow University Hares and Hounds. Conan McCaughey ran a nip and tuck battle first taking and then losing the lead with his solid leg of 12:47 to keep Central in second, handing over slightly down on the University Club and chased by Johnny Glen (11:51) who ran the fastest leg of the day to bring strong rivals, Inverclyde AC, into third while Kilbarchan AAC had moved through to fourth.
The third leg saw Central’s Alastair Hay pitted against Kilbarchan’s Olympian Callum Hawkins. While Alastair moved Central through to first with a 12:19 leg Callum brought Kilbarchan into second, but crucially only pulling in some six seconds on Alastair to give Central a 14 second cushion. Jamie Crowe had proven his form in recent weeks and here his storming 11:59 effort extended Central’s winning margin to 44 seconds over Kilbarchan with Inverclyde in third a further 16 seconds further down.
It was great to see some eleven athletes supporting the Central AC Boys relay teams but disappointing not to have any Under-17s in an Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 format over three 2.5km legs. Central’s silver medals from 2018 were going to be hard to match but Under-13 Aaron Middleton set off with true resolve and had Central in a close-up ninth at the end of the first leg with a more than handy 9:49 clocking. Under-15 Connor Bell moved through the field with a superb second leg, to bring Central into second with an excellent 8:41. It was left to another Under-15, Cameron Kerr to finish Central’s challenge and here Cameron ran a well-judged 8:51 leg against his older rivals, to bring the team a set of bronze medals.
The remaining Central Boys teams, as expected, showed excellent determination throughout and the ‘B’ team of Joshua Kennedy (9:51), Alex Dunlop (11:12) and Euan Docherty (9:55) held their own well to finish 53rd in a large field of Clubs. There was more commitment from the ‘C’ team through Jamie Connor (12:02), Ruairidh Burns (9:49) and Ross Lawrie (11:35) to finish 83rd. The final Central team was incomplete but here Henry Crossley (11:01) and Jamie Oldham (10:25) were in 66th position at the end of their stint.
It was a massive compliment to the strength in depth of Central Men’s teams to see the ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams finish in sixth and thirteenth overall. The ‘B’ team of Matthew Sutherland (12:55), first year Under-20 runner Ben MacMillan (12:53), Hamish Hickey (12:31) and Michael Wright (12:54) came through the field well. The ‘C’ team held their early position well through Dale Colley (13:00), Fraser Logan (13:36), Aiden Shea (13:31) and Under-20 runner Tom Graham-Marr (12:42) to prove the club is ready for the cross country season ahead.
There was further determination from Central’s Masters team of Jens Subke (16:03), Donald Shaw (15:46), Will Hensman (14:44) and Euan Jack (14:21) with the team finishing 68th team overall and eleventh Masters Team
There was more true grit from a further Masters team of David Eckersley (15:00), Hugh Kerr (16:46), Charles Graham-Marr (16:41) and Stuart Watson (17:51) finishing 83rd team overall and sixteenth in the Masters competition. Iain Dunsmore (16:14) led off yet another Masters team including Hugh Buchanan (16:57), Colin Alexander (17:52) and Colin Sinclair (19:04) with the team in 102nd place at the finish and twenty-second Masters team. Allan Gall was on first leg duty for Central’s Over-50 team that finished twenty fifth in that competitive category through further strong efforts from John Millar (22:14), Cameron Campbell (19:27) and Liam McCabe (18:38). An incomplete team of David Lindsay (14:44), Ben Noad (17:29) and Neil Cobb (18:03) were in 111th place at the end of their effort. All of these runners showing the can-do attitude fostered by Coach Derek Easton and once again showing a great approach to distance running.
After 15 years with interests at the sharp end of the race, the Senior Women’s squad riven by unavailability and injury and then two last-minute illness withdrawals, but Central’s Women’s re-built A team put on a good show. Natalie Stewart led off the team with a strong and steady 17:19, Claire Houston as the only pre-selected team member put in a storming run of 16:18 to move the team forward to 29th, Kirsten McStay kept the forward progress going with 17:37 and 24th place and Amy Hendry brought the team home in 21st place with her strong run of 17:03.
For the Central B team, Heather Scott led off (18:29), passing on to Julia McAfee (18:36), Becky Hay (18:42) and Elizabeth Thompson (18:06) to bring team to 34th.
Central’s three-leg Over-50 team was led away by Hazel Dean whose 18:17 timing had them into fourth place, Jane Waterhouse held that position with her 19:22 and Trish Milne put in a spirited 17:21 to bring the team forward initially into bronze and then to silver medal position. Alison Curry (23:11) had a solo run as her team mates were moved up into replacement slots
The Girls race had the same course and team mix as the Boys races and a large contingent ran strongly in a packed field. In the first Central team home, Carys Gibb (11:00), Amy Cully (10:35) and Carrie Banks (10:26) all ran with spirit to finish 15th overall with Leah Gibb (11:13) Sumer Maclean (10:38) and Kyra Gibb (10:34) in the next Central team close behind in 21st place. Niamh McKinlay (11:21), Mirren Henry (11:14) and Grace Tindall (10:29) were closely matched as the next Central team in 28th place. Loren Stewart (12:14), Melissa Turnbull (11:01) and Naomi Howlieson (11:55) were 48th place, and Leah Brown (12:17), Mary Kealey (13:01) and Anna MacKinnon (11:12) were 63rd team, with important mentions for Scarlett Roy (12:15), Leona Melville (11:38), Zosia Padden (12:13) and Anna Buchanan (12:07) who ran in incomplete teams.