Central AC made it a record breaking nine successive team victories in the senior men’s race at the Lindsays National Cross Country Championships at Callendar Park, Falkirk. Other notable achievements were an individual bronze for Morag Millar in the senior women and among the Under-20 Men an individual bronze for Hamish Hickey and a team bronze. Images by Bobby Gavin.
With the record on the line, there was much pressure to win again and take the record outright in the last and biggest race of the day, with over 700 runners. There was strong opposition expected in particular from Cambuslang Harriers and Inverclyde AC, with a number of top international runners on show. The competition proved as tough as expected but it was Central’s strength in depth that shone through to ensure the team title was retained and the record claimed. Central’s top counter on the day was the consistent Alastair Hay in eighth with a fine 35 minutes 12 seconds clocking over the undulating 10 kilometre course. Cameron Milne ran strongly throughout to finish tenth (35.28) while Conan McCaughey (14th; 35.47) again proved essential to the team effort. Dale Colley (15th; 35.50) showed superb form while more top performances from Michael Wright (21st; 36.09) and Iain Davies (32nd; 36.45) saw the Club close in with 100 points, ahead of Cambuslang on 142 and Inverclyde on 146. Mention must be made of coach Derek Easton who has overseen this superb run of wins pulling together large teams of all abilities, but with cutting edge quality, determination and team spirit at the front of the race.
As the senior runners came through in a seemingly never-ending stream the essential back-up was provided from Scottish Veteran Champion Scott Brember (49th; 37.36) and ultra-running specialist Ross Houston (54th; 37.46). Matthew Sutherland (61st; 38.07), Jack Kerr (63rd; 38.08), and Murray MacLarty (72nd; 38.24) should all be pleased with their runs and commitment. Lewis Millar (137th; 40.26) bridged the gap to Alex Milne (259th; 43.49), David Eckersley (274nd; 44.15), Iain Dunsmore (368th; 46.22), Jens Subke (375th; 46.32) and Hugh Buchanan (394th; 47.09). Ben Noad (422nd; 47.50) had an improved run leading in Talat Aidi (457th; 48.26); Colin Alexander (529th; 50.04), Charles Graham-Marr (558th; 50.50), Allan Gall (638th; 53.47), Cameron Campbell (655th; 54.39) and Colin Sinclair (692nd; 58.06).
Central’s women’s team took on the challenge of the same 10km course as the men, with over 300 finishers and a new requirement for five team counters. In the individual battle for the title 2017 champion Morag Millar ran strongly throughout for her 39.00 timing and was always in the running for medals in a group of four, but had to give way to Steph Twell, an experienced Olympian, and Czech international and Prague-based Moira Stewart. Fanni Gyurko, Central’s Dunblane-based Hungarian athlete, put in a strong performance for 9th place with 41.14 with Kim Timmins (40th; 45.18), Amy Hendry (82nd; 48.06), Claire Houston (91st; 48.48) and Becky Hay (147th; 52.19) bringing in the team to a creditable 6th place.
Central’s Under-20 Men all looked pleased with their efforts as Hamish Hickey’s fine 25 minutes 13 seconds run over the 7.5 kilometre course was rewarded with an individual bronze. Bronze team medals were a further reward through more excellent runs from Tom Graham-Marr (15th; 26.15), Sandy Holl (19th; 26.28) and Keir Howlieson (48th; 29.30). Just missing out on a team medal Telfer Gray’s 30.39 effort in 58th place proved another valuable contribution.
Central’s Under-20 Women were close to medals over the same course. Lauren McCulloch was justifiably pleased with her 4th place with 30.02 with Rebecca Craig (14th; 31.03) and Abby Rowley (26th; 34.42) coming close to a team medal as they finished fourth.
The Under-17 Men’s race was held over a 6 kilometre test with Kyle Howie finishing 61st in 25 minutes 21 seconds and will have learned much in stepping up to this high level as will Sam Burton (91st; 27.54).
The Under-15 Boys faced a 4.1 kilometre course and here it was Finlay Muir who again led Central’s Team effort in 27th (15.30) while Euan Docherty (78th; 16.44) and Ross Lawrie (137th; 19.05) both ran well in their first year in this age group.
In the Under-15 Girls, it was a fine race by Grace Tindall for 25th in 17.20, Summer McLean (48th; 18.08) and Heidi Maxwell (90th; 19.51) as they tackled the same tough 4.1 kilometre course.
Central’s Under-13 Girls were the first race at the start of the day, over a 3.1 kilometre hilly course. The girls came close to the podium with 4th team place through Carys Gibb (21st; 13.50), Leona Melville (29th; 14.06), Mirren Henry (32nd; 14.11), Catriona Kane (34th; 14.16), Mary Kealey (110th; 16.26), Zosia Paddon (111th; 16.30) and Brogan McMillan (112th; 16.32).
The Under-13 Boys raced over the same course as the Girls and Connor Bell was always to the fore in a four athlete breakaway group. Connor made a strong effort on the final uphill stretch but had to settle for an agonisingly close fourth place in an excellent 11 minutes 43 seconds. In this highly competitive age group there were more strong runs from Aaron Middleton (46th; 13.22), Joshua Kennedy (49th; 13.25), Ruairidh Burns (55th; 13.28), Sam Gardner (81st; 13.48), Alex Dunlop (121st; 14.20) and Henry Crossley (155th; 15.23) and we can expect more from all the boys in the future. Central finished as fifth placed team.