Central Athletic Club were very much at the heart of events on King’s Park, when Stirling hosted a series of Home Countries internationals, mixed with the annual Scottish Inter-District Championship. As host club, Central set and laid out the course and marshalled the event. Unfortunately, it did not organise the weather with large amounts of standing water and mud on the sports pitch section providing very heavy going. The golf course section had fast but treacherous downhill sections with runners at any point in danger of a mudslide.
Central athletes featured strongly at the front of the Senior Men’s and Under-20 Men’s 8 kilometres race, with this the last race of the day the underfoot conditions were challenging in the extreme. Andrew Butchart and Jamie Crowe were both representing Scotland, as was Hamish Hickey in the Under-23 category. There was further representation both in the Scotland East team through Alastair Hay and Matthew Sutherland and in a number of local runners wearing yellow and blue Central vests willing to face up to this tough challenge.
This race provided a great spectacle for the spectators who braved the incessant rain, with Butchart and Crowe at the front running in a four man group with Welsh runners Kristian Jones and James Hunt. The underfoot mud and the tight turns on the course saw Jones and Butchart taking tumbles with both recovering to race to the finish. The race unfolded on the final 2km lap with Jones establishing a lead to take him to victory in 25 minutes 33 seconds, a determined run from Crowe (25:43) rewarded with second place, Butchart (25:50) just run out for third by the fast finish of England’s Adam Hickey (25:49), while Hunt faded to fifth (26:10). There was further reward for Jamie and Andrew as they led Scotland to overall victory from Wales and England – the first set of gold medals for Scotland in this race for some years.
Hamish Hickey was representing the Scottish Under-23 team moving up from his normal Under-20 level. Here Hamish’s talent shone through with fourth place in the Under-23 race and 19th overall to record an excellent 27 minutes exactly helping Scotland lift further team gold in the Celtic Cross Country International. Scotland East representatives Alastair Hay (40th; 27:45) and Matthew Sutherland (49th; 28:05) also tamed the conditions with the East well ahead of their rival teams.
Amongst the club entries, Conan McCaughey wore the first of the mud spattered Central vests to finish in 48th overall (27:56) ahead of further good runs from Telfer Gray (93rd; 29:52) and Calum Phillip (99th; 30:13). There was a determined run from Neil Ferrier (134th; 33:55), leading in Donald Shaw (135th; 34:10), Andrew Irvine (136th; 34:22), Jens Subke (138th; 34:36), Iain Dunsmore (141st; 36:09), Iain Elliott (142nd; 36:13), Colin Alexander (148th; 38:32) and Allan Gall (156th; 43:05).
The Under-13 Boys’ race featured Joshua Kennedy in the black vest of Scotland East, his first run at this level. As expected Joshua coped well with both the quality of the opposition and the deteriorating conditions producing a strong effort in 39th overall, recording 13:20 over the 3km course with the East taking silver team medals just one point behind the Scotland West team. Jamie Connor put himself forward to challenge at this high level and should be proud of his 72nd place overall and his 15:43 clocking.
Central were represented by Carys and Leah Gibb in the Girls’ Under-13 Scotland East team, and they ran strongly throughout with fine results of 14:17, 27th and 14:37, 31st respectively.
Connor Bell was always to the fore in the Under-15 Boys race over a 4 kilometre course only headed by Birtley AC’s runner Christopher Perkins. Connor’s second place finish saw him lift individual gold as first Scot home, and well clear, in the Inter-District race with a superb 13:51 effort, a brilliant outcome for someone in his first year in this age group. Indeed Connor led home the Scotland East winning team, backed up by excellent runs from fellow Central runners Cameron Kerr (10th; 14:17) and Cameron MacMillan (18th; 14:50). In the Under-15 Girls’ race Summer McLean gave a fine account of herself with her 20th place in 16:28 contributing to an East team that took the Inter-District title.
The Under-20 Mens’ race was played out over a 7 kilometre challenge getting the best of the underfoot conditions, and here Ben MacMillan proved equal to the test finishing 24th with 25:26. Aidan Shea continued to show progress in 29th (25:44) while Sandy Holl fought throughout to finish in 40th overall (28:00).