Words by: Calum Phillip
The club enjoyed a successful day at the Scottish National Cross Country Relay Championships in Cumbernauld. On a day that is always one of the highlights of the Scottish Athletics calendar, athletes and spectators alike were treated to a day of top class racing against a backdrop of glorious winter sunshine.
Senior men: A team
The Senior Men arrived in search of their fifth successive national relay title and duly delivered with a performance full of determination and maturity to hold off a youthful Edinburgh University team in second and Inverclyde AC in third.
Calum Phillip led the A team out on the first leg, keen to add to his bronze (2022-23), and silver (2021-22) national relay medal collection. On a competitive opening leg Calum delivered a well-judged effort (12:37) to come in seventh place, and crucially within touching distance of clubs likely to feature at the sharp end.
Calum passed onto Alastair Marshall who was in confident mood fresh from his first East District League win a week prior. Alastair had plenty to chase down and flew past the field early on to remarkably find himself in the lead little more than a kilometre into his leg. He continued to increase the gap throughout and clocked 12:33, an impressive sixth fastest leg of the day.
Out on leg three was Cameron Milne, an athlete who has now picked up a very impressive seven medals at the national cross country relays. Cameron delivered a composed run, clocking 12:43 and building on the team’s lead with every stride.
Onto the anchor leg and any slim hopes rival clubs held of a late comeback may well have been totally extinguished by seeing multiple Scottish Champion and GB internationalist Jamie Crowe set off. Jamie, who has now led the team home to victory on three separate occasions looked in control throughout and built the overall advantage to almost a full minute. He took the tape in 12:22, the fourth fastest leg of the day.
Senior men: B, C, D teams
The strength in depth of the senior men was on display with an eleventh placed finish for the B team. Luca Fanottoli (a member of the 2022-23 winning team) led the team out in 13:13 before passing onto Under-20 Struan Bennett. Struan ran strongly (13:40) to maintain the platform of fifteenth place given him to by Luca. Triathlete Joel Lange was on third leg and moved into twelfth with a fine run of 13:22. Club stalwart Dale Colley was on the anchor, catching one and exactly matching Joel’s time to bring the team home in eleventh.
The C team finished 44th and were well represented by Andrew Irvine (14:53), Under-20 Euan Docherty (14:29) who impressively passed eleven teams on his leg, Vet-40 Will Hensman (15:11), and fellow Vet-40 Alan Hume (16:18).
The incomplete D team saw spirited runs from Neil Ferrier (16:14) and a cross country debut for Kevin Amos (16:35). They were in 73rd position after two legs.
Senior women: A team
The Central Women have enjoyed great success in this event in recent history, picking up an impressive three golds and three silvers in the last eleven years. With the calibre of the women’s field so high and several particularly strong university teams the A team produced an excellent performance to finish 9th overall.
Leading the A team out on her fifth appearance at Cumbernauld was Kimberley Milne who produced a strong run (17:12) on an exceptionally stacked first leg to come into the changeover in a very respectable 25th place.
Kimberley passed on to Under-20 athlete Tuscany Wright who moved through the field well to bring the team up to 19th. Tuscany’s 16:43 run was an impressive effort and 14th quickest Under-20 women’s time of the day.
Onto leg three and the forward progress was continued by Heather Scott who ran strongly (16:48) to overtake a further four teams and move the team up into 15th place.
Bringing the team home was Jennifer Wetton, another athlete who has a vast array of national relay medals. Jennifer produced a typically spirited effort to move the team into a well-deserved 9th position. Her 15:21 also earned her the 14th quickest individual leg of the day.
A very impressive performance from all four and a big improvement on last year when the A team were 21st overall.
Senior women: B, C, D teams
The B team also put in a strong performance: Under-20 Lydia Louw (18:10) was off first and had the team in 33rd place after the opening leg. The women were setting an impressive trend of moving strongly through the field and that continued with Rebecca Hay and Amy Hendry both clocking 18:18 on legs two and three to move the team into 31st and then 28th respectively. The fastest leg of the B team was by Kyra Gibb whose 17:21 saw her overtake a further five and bring the team home in an impressive 23rd.
Not far behind were the C team with a 28th placed finish. New club member and recent Stirling University graduate Sophie Young led the team out in 17:44, bringing her in one place in front of the B team. 800 Metres specialist Rachel Laurie was next and moved through the field well (18:04) into 25th position. A strong run (18:37) from Laurie Douglas maintained this position before passing onto Under-20 athlete Millie O’Neil who clocked (19:57) to make it three women’s teams in the top thirty.
The D team was incomplete but that by no means reduced the effort on display. Lily Shaw’s 18:19 saw her hand over in 36th place to Vet-50 athlete Linda Cunningham. Linda ran 23:50 and passed onto junior athlete coach Rhona Scott whose 23:30 saw the team into 45th place at the conclusion of the third leg.
One of the big positives of the day was a increase in the number of senior women competing. Three full and one incomplete team represent a significant increase on the one complete team at the 2022-23 national cross country relays. All credit must go to those who have contributed to this.
The Men’s Masters races also saw an impressive turnout, with three complete teams and an impressive 5th placed finish for the A team. Vet-60 David Eckersley was off first and his 15:55 saw him clock the second quickest Vet-60 time of the day. One of the country’s top Vet-50 athletes Scott Brember was on leg two, Scott ran the fastest Vet-50 time of the day (14:07), moving the team into third place and serious medal contention. Vet-50 Ewan Jack (16:41) brought the team home in 5th place. An excellent showing from the team.
The B team were in 19th with Vet-50 Tony Disley (17:11), Vet-60 Charles Graham Marr (17:10), and Vet-70 Roger Greenway (20:02) all running strongly. Charles and Roger were rewarded with the seventh and first fastest legs in their respective age groups.
The C team finished 25th and were well represented by Vet-50 Alastair Cunningham (20:02), Vet-60 Raymond Milne (19:47), and Vet-60 Allan Gall (21:59).
The club had three teams competing in the Young Males races, all of which performed with great credit to the club. On the first leg of the 2.5 kilometre course Under-13s Thomas Arnott (11:28), Cameron Mackenzie (14:17), and Zachary Walker (13:32) all ran strongly.
They passed onto Under-15 Gavin Rodger (12:19), and Under-13s Sam Nicolson (10:26), and Bruno Sweeney (13:36) respectively.
The teams were brought home by Under-17s Alex Dunlop (9:13), Scott Hill (10:21), and Under-15 Cameron Lock (11:18).
There were a further two teams competing in the Young Females race. They were led out well by Jessica Walker (14:10) and Erin Combe (14:58) on the opening Under-13 leg.
The Under-15s were up next and Ella Tanner (13:10) and Katherine Mitchell (14:47) both battled through the Cumbernauld mud with great spirit.
The final Under-17s leg saw Leah Brown (11:55) and Niamh Mckinlay (11:59) both finish strongly and move through the field well.
The Scottish National Cross Country Relay Championships represented another successful and enjoyable day in Cumbernauld for all associated with the club. The Senior Men look in good shape to continue their dominance of the Scottish Athletics winter calendar whilst the Senior Women appear to be on a promising upwards trend. A fun and valuable experience too for several of the club’s junior athletes. Particular thanks must go to the dedication and excellent support from coaches, officials, and spectators.