Stornoway Running and Athletics Club kicked off the New Year on the medal trail with a quartet of team prizes at the high profile Great Edinburgh International Cross Country event.
Three team bronze medals and a team silver gong were succesfully collected by SRAC at a competition which attracted some of the finest athletes from around the world. This year saw the likes of Mo Farah, eventual winner Garrett Heath from the United States, Callum Hawkins of Scotland, as well as Team GB pair, Kate Avery and Gemma Steel in the women’s race.
The huge crowd that lined the course in Holyrood Park got to rub shoulders with some legends of the sport, and Brendan Foster Jo Pavey and Jonathan Edwards all took time to speak to race fans before taking to the microphone to commentate for the BBC’s live broadcast.
Before the main events though, there was the not so small matter of the Celtic Nations Championships and the Scottish Inter District Cross Country Championships, which a number of Stornoway Running and Athletics Club members had qualified for from the North District Championships in Elgin last December.
With an early start for the youngsters, Edinburgh was covered in thick freezing fog, and walking to the event itself was no mean feat with one or two close calls on icy pavements leaving conditions underfoot treacherous.
First up was the Under 15s boys race, where we had representing Team North, Scott Maciver and John Alistair Bain. The course itself was pretty muddy and wet, but being the first race, they certainly had the better of the conditions as it was to cut up more throughout the day.
The start was frantic, and this wasn’t a race where the athletes were going to gauge the other competitors before mounting a charge. This was all out from the gun. In fact, this can be said for most of the junior races. A real step up in standard for the lads. Pre-race tactics were, run your own race, don’t get sucked into the first lap madness.
The boys followed this advice to the letter, and while they ran strong first laps, they still had plenty in the tank. As those who went off too hard, started to tire later on, Scott and John made up a number of places with determined, controlled runs. John Alistair finished as the eighth runner home for the North District, and Scott as the sixth. The first six for each team counted towards the team competition, earning Scott a bronze medal, not a bad start to the day for SRAC with a medal in the bag.
Next on track would be Eilidh Mackenzie , after having won Gold in the North District Championships in early December. This is where it got a bit confusing. Not just for the crowd, but also for the race commentator on the PA at the event.
Eilidh was running in a combined Inter District and Celtic Nations race, with some runners counting in both. Eilidh started strongly, passing the halfway mark in a tussle for sixth place , before easing into fifth as the race went on. As the battle unfolded, the finish line saw three international vests finish in the first four places, with only one inter district vest ahead of Eilidh as she powered home in fifth place, with everyone wrongly thinking she had bagged a silver. Everyone probably except Eilidh, who was her usual cool self, having finished in fifth place against some very notable national athletes. It was another awesome run from Eilidh who continues to wow.
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