2014 - SRAC’s year of tumbling records and medal collecting

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As each year goes by for Stornoway Running and Athletics Club new records are set; achievements at all levels of competition result in new club records’ being set, medals being won and membership continues to grow!

2014 the year of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games was no exception for SRAC.

Each year’s schedule of events for the club is basically the same; the winter months see SRAC take part in local and mainland cross country events and the summer focus is on track and field and road running with a little involvement in indoor athletics (winter) and hill running (summer) thrown in for good measure.

As early as the second weekend in January 2014 SRAC were in competition in Edinburgh’s Hollyrood Park. On this occasion however they wore the all red vest of the North District team to compete in the Scottish Inter District Cross Country Championships, against Team East and Team West. SRAC had seven athletes taking part in the second biggest Scottish cross country event. The top performances from the SRAC runners came from Peigi McKellar (U17) finishing top North runner. Robert Jones was fourth overall and unfortunately only just out of the medals.

They say dynamite doesn’t come in big boxes, similarly Stornoway may be small compared to many other Scottish clubs, but do make a bang big enough to be noticed! SRAC had not one podium place runner but two from the seven selected! Eilidh MacKenzie really showed that on form she can ‘motor’ over the ‘country’ amongst Scotland’s best! One second was the difference in her final placing bronze, so nearly silver. But once again an impressive run from the Holm girl who could so easily opt to run in bigger club’s vest, stays faithful to the club she first started with! Another bronze came from one of SRAC’s rising stars, young Connor MacLean (Under 17) ran in a mixed U20/U17 ‘double’ race. That is, it included the U17 Inter District runners and an International match involving GB, USA and Europe. A great experience and the youngster was in no was phased as he ran to snap up a U17 District bronze medal.

Within weeks of the District Championships, Connor MacLean headed over to Antrim to compete in the prestigious UK Cross Challenge despite a little disappointment of not winning his first Scottish vest. But as serendipity would have it, his race that day was a cracker seeing him take second place and in the process all the ‘scalps’ of the Scottish team!

The sprints and jumps section certainly don’t hibernate through the winter months either and ten junior club athletes sharpened up for the outdoor season at the National Age Group Indoor Championships in the Emirates Arena Glasgow. The top performer was Andrew Horne, his long jump put him into the top 6 in the Scottish rankings and was a ‘marker’ for bigger jumps outdoors!

Through the cold and often unfavourable winter months strength and endurance training continued to February’s National Cross Country Championships in Falkirk. SRAC have been ever present at this event (now each year in Falkirk) since the club’s first six man team ran in the red vest hopped in gold back in 1990 in Dundee’s Caird Park! Best results in Falkirk were; Connor MacLean (U17) 4th, Peigi MacKellar (U17) 10th and Lewis MacAlpine who finished back in 25th at the Inter Districts taking a superb 6th place in the National!

Come March it was the first big half marathon of the year and there was a huge number of SRAC vests on the streets of the city. For many and especially the clubs newest recruits the joy of the winters training coming together in Inverness and crossing the finish line was a ‘gold run’ in itself. For the more serious high mileage runners it was time to lay your guts on the road! Among them was Norman Ferguson a recent and successful recruit improver now doing it with the high mileage group, hitting a new Personal Best time of 1hr 24mins 52 and a credible 58th place.

Toward the end of spring it was time for the annual ‘club outing’, the 2014 race event of choice being the Enschede Marathon, (half & 10k) in the Netherlands! This is a time for the seniors to have a targeted race and also have some craic wearing the club vest as a group all over Europe! The annual club trip truly reflects the clubs all inclusive nature as the island based SRAC runners met up with mainland members and our German members Gunter, Ludger, Corina and our wee Austrian SRACer Gerald Kalchauer! Seven ran the marathon, three the half and one completed the 10K. Incidentally Norman improved on his Inverness P.B. Look out Ljubljana 2015!

Just before the start of the outdoor track and field season the club organised the highly popular Pentland Road 10K won by Michael Macmillan in the amazing time of 32mins 58 at only 16.

The track season then opened with a wee T&F ‘taster’ with the local Open Meeting at Smith Avenue with guests North Uist AAC and South Uist & Eriskay AAC providing the competition. SRAC also went to Inverness three times, twice for an open meeting’s and also for the North District Championships. The club had perhaps its largest team travel to the National Age Group Championships to Aberdeen in August and came back with three National medals. Bronze medals were won by Andrew Horne (U15) in the 200m (24.90). Michael MacMillan took bronze in the U17 800m (2mins.00.27) and the Mens U17 National 1500m title was won by Connor MacLean.

While some of the club’s top performers picked up medals at the National Age Group Championships, the medal count at District level was very impressive. SRAC won 14 gold, 9 Silver and 7 bronze medals that placed the club second on the North District medal table. In the top ten National rankings four club athletes have made six top ten ranking performances! The events include, long jump, 100m, 800m and 1500m. Some of these performances necessitated SRAC‘s young athletes to travel to Trafford England to seek competition to improve their development. The youngest top ten SRAC athlete was Sian MacDonald and hopefully she will progress just as well as those in the older top ten rankings.

The LWP Tri-Club match organised by the club and which attracts the very best of Scottish clubs to Stornoway brought the curtain down on the track and field season for SRAC. This year visiting team were Victoria Park AAC Glasgow and the day’s events were as good as the wonderful weather on the day! It was fairly close, the scores VPAAC 264 to SRAC’s 236. SRAC have not won the Tri Club since 2011 against Corstorphine and 2015 looks difficult with the visits of Corstorphine and Scottish ‘giants’ Giffnock North AAC Glasgow. For both clubs this will be their second visit to Tri Club Match hosted by Stornoway.

The club’s main road events are naturally the Autoparts Stornoway Half Marathon in May which is the first race in the very popular HEB 3 organised by the club’s Jim Bruce the last 12 years. The Heb 3 we believe to be the countries longest running half marathon series with runners from all over the UK participating. Some of those running not just the required 3 from 5, but all five and so proudly get to wear the ‘rinn mise na coig’ tee shirts!

The Stornoway Half was won by local boy Andrew Joyce in a very useful time of 1hr 17.52 and the first veteran runner was another club runner, Jonny Pritchard. Jonny went on to win SRAC’s 25th anniversary HEB 3 in a total time of 4Hrs 09.38, while the veteran prize went to SRAC’s John MacAskill.

2014 also saw the return of the Callanish Stones marathon, 10k and Fun Run albeit on a different route to the 2008 version. The 2014 route was based on the islands historic Callanish area and the runners were given full exposure to the islands rich heritage sites as well as seeing some of the spectacular Atlantic west coast scenery at the Gearannan black house village. Runners came from throughout the UK (Harrogate, York, St Albans) and the clubs German and Austrian members also came to run Callanish! The race had a significant local participation and was won by; Rupert Shute of Reading Roadrunners and Susan Johnson of Corstorphine AAC.

Back into winter its cross county time again and the season has started with a bang! Two of the clubs defending North District Champions ‘passed-up’ the Districts this year as its date clashed with the opening race of the UK Cross Challenge. Eilidh MacKenzie and Connor MacLean had fine runs as well as Michael MacMillan. MacLean’s fourth place (1st Scot finisher, Michael was 2nd Scot) run was enough to ‘catch the eye’ of the Scottish selectors and he will now travel to compete at Under 20 level in the Celtic International Championship in Ireland, against Eire, Wales and Northern Ireland! Congratulations indeed.

The club traditionally ‘round off’ the year with the annual Flett Trek to Rhenigidale on Hogmanay! This social club outing (the 27th) involves two running options (approx 7.5 or 3.5 miles) and both have a wee dip in Loch Trolamaraig December waters to freshen everyone up before the final 2k to the Rhenigidale Hostel. For the clubs senior runners this is one of the biggest dates on the calendar and a great way to see the year and plot next years around the Bothy stove!