A phenomenal weekend of athletics showing Central athletes to the fore; Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships incorporating the World Cross Country Trials in Birmingham, Home Countries Cross Country International in Antrim, the National Junior Road Race in Greenock, Sprint Ultra on Deeside, and the Alloa Half Marathon locally. Exciting reading!
Central AC Press Report – 14/15 March 2015
The climax to the UK’s domestic Cross Country Season was played out in Cofton Park, Birmingham at the Inter-counties Championships incorporating the World Cross Country trials and the final of the UK Challenge Cross Country Series for 2014/15. The cream of British endurance running was present as athletes from all over the country tackled challenging courses in races held in un-seasonal sunshine in pursuit of both individual and team medals. Club vests were swapped for County vests with Central athletes wearing the black of Scotland East.
Scottish Cross Country Champion Andrew Butchart had demonstrated great form throughout the winter and here had to wait for the final race of the afternoon, the Senior Men’s 12kilometre challenge, and those who came to enjoy a great days sport were not disappointed. Central had four runners in the race and Scotland East were looking to repeat last year’s achievement of winning team medals. Andrew went to the start-line in contention for the UK Challenge Series and, as reigning Scottish Champion, looking to impress the selectors prior to World Cross Country Championships in China later this month. As in all the previous races the first lap included some brutal hills and a group of about a dozen runners soon established themselves at the front of a field of approximately 300 runners. On the third of four laps the current English Champion Charlie Hulson attempted to break away and his efforts reduced the lead group to three as only Andrew and Welsh Champion Dewi Griffiths could maintain the pace. The race was on to see who was the top man in Britain with the English, Scottish and Welsh Champions running shoulder to shoulder. As the leaders entered the last lap Hulson was beginning to drop back and on the final hill, some 1500metres from the finish, Butchart applied the pressure to open a gap on Griffiths. Andrew maintained his tempo to the line to record a magnificent win in 34mins 26secs, the first Scotsman to win the Senior Men’s title at this Championship. There then followed an excruciating five day wait before World selection was confirmed including Andrew’s English and Welsh rivals and fourth placed runner Jonny Hay.
Alex Hendry had a rare off day but still finished 75th in 37mins 42secs while just three seconds and four places behind was Michael Wright running for Hertfordshire. Dale Colley was the final Central athlete to finish in 113th place with 38mins 33 secs. Scotland East could not repeat last year’s team medals but still finished in a fine fifth place.
Some hours before in the first race of the day for the Under 20 Men, Aidan Thompson was the sole representative for Scotland East and although disappointed by his run Aidan battled bravely to finish 23rd in 24mins 28secs for his 8km race.
Like Aidan, Kathryn Gillespie was the sole representative for Scotland East in the Under 20 Women’s race. Fresh from winning the Scottish title two weeks earlier Kathryn was in the leading group for much of the race finishing in an excellent sixth place in 22mins 16secs for her 6km. In the Senior Womens race over 8km Fiona Thompson finished in a fine 54th place in 28mins exactly to ensure Scotland East won the Bronze team medals.
High class fields were also the order of the day for Central athletes representing Scotland in the Home Countries Cross Country International in Antrim on Saturday 14th March, the standard of races heightened by the presence of Ethiopian, Kenyan and Ugandan runners.
Aidan Thompson was again to the fore in the Under 20 Mens race finishing in fifth and with back-up from Club mate Dale Colley in twelfth it was Scotland who captured Bronze team medals. Fiona Thompson’s overall 16th place in the Senior Womens race helped ensure Scotland won another set of Bronze medals. Scott McDonald had another quality run in the 10Kilometre Senior Mens race coming home 25th overall with 35min 4secs.
Sunday 15th March saw Central AC’s focus move to Battery Park in Greenock for the National Junior Road Race Championships, with the athletes facing a chill wind from the Clyde estuary. Central’s athletes contested four of the six races on offer with the Club’s best results coming in the Under 17 Mens 4.9 kilometre race. On the first lap a leading group was established containing all four of Central’s runners Jack Kerr, Iain Davies, Cameron Harris and Bradley Scott. On the last of the four laps the leading group still contained Jack and Iain and the battle for medals was on. Jack continued to apply the pressure and had opened a 5 seconds gap by the finish to win in 15min 5secs while Iain was only 3 seconds from a medal with a strong effort in fourth (15.15). Cameron stuck well to the task in 14th (16.03) while Bradley’s 16.43 effort resulted in 22nd place. When Team points were counted it was Central who travelled home with the Team Gold medals.
The races doubled as selection races for the London Mini Marathon so Kate Gallagher should have booked a place with her fine 14min 38secs third place effort in the Under 15 Girls 4.2 kilometre race while Heather Scott did well to finish 21st in this race (16.49). Jodie Currie stuck well to the task to come home 25th in the Under 17 Womens race (20.07) and youngsters Jacob Organ and Alistair Hardie ran strongly, shoulder to shoulder, throughout the Under 13 Boys 2.5 kilometre race to finish 32nd and 33rd with both recording 9min 6secs.
Commonwealth Games Marathon runner Ross Houston dipped his toe into the ironically named Sprint Ultra Race of some 33 miles on Deeside, an out and back course on the first section of the Deeside Way between Aberdeen and Banchory. Ross underlined his talent by winning the event in 3hours 10mins 40secs and taking the race record. Central contributed more class to the event through tenth placed Bob Steel 3-57-01, Roger Greenaway 4-26-26 and Elinor Coombs 5-22-01.
Central’s weekend was rounded off through some 9 men and 4 women competing in the Alloa Half Marathon. Jennifer Wetton improved her personal best to 76min 51secs to lift the Womens title while Catriona Welsh (84.36), Alison Curry (1hour 51min 31secs) and Lee Houghton (2- 7-10) can all be proud of their runs. Cameron Milne with a personal best of 70.46 should be rightfully proud of his sixth place overall and it was good to see Colin Logan finish in 25th with a gritty 76.38. More personal bests followed through Neil Cameron (80.52) and Gordon Appelbe (86.49) while Robin Mussett (87.10), John Baxter (94.23), Allan Gall (1- 43- 28), Bob Hanson (1-43-40) and Bill Gault (1-48-00) all did the yellow and blue vest proud.