Cross country season 2011/12 kicked off on Saturday 8th October in Dornoch for the North District Relays.
A small team of hard-core athletes got out of bed early to catch the morning ferry to Ullapool.
Everyone was in high spirits despite the early start and relaxed on the ferry by playing cards. Everyone except designated driver Willie MacRury who soon realised he didn’t pack his trail shoes………a big thanks must go to young Kenneth for saving Willie’s day!
We reached Dornoch with just enough time for Chirsty Macleod to take the girls on a short warm up and a quick look at the course, which seemed to be very flat and firm under foot. Catriona Bain was first up for the SRAC girls.
Her teammates waiting at the finish line in anticipation but they didn’t have to wait long as Catriona stormed through finishing in 3rd position after the first of the three legs.
It didn’t take Peggi Mackellar long to settle into her pace on the second leg and by half way she had a 100m lead on the Inverness Harrier who was in hot pursuit. By the finish the gap had closed slightly.
Peggi then handed over to Alison Macinnes to take SRAC home on the final leg. In the end our mainland competitors proved too strong and after a gutsy leg by Alison we narrowly missed out on a medal finishing 4th.
Following the strong junior girls performance the junior boys toed the line. Kyle Munro stepped up to the start full of confidence with a cheeky smile on his face.
He ran a great first leg managing to stick close to the leaders finishing in 6th position. Connor Maclean took off like a bullet on the second leg and ran well to record the 6th fastest time of the day overall.
He managed to overtake one team finishing in 5th place that put us in a strong position going into the final leg. Our third leg runner Kenneth Macsween had too much to ask to get us into medal contention especially considering the strength of the opposition however he performed well with Kenneth and team finishing in 6th position overall.
After waiting in the rain after watching the early races it was time for a strong SRAC senior men’s team to go for gold! With the confidence and form of Stewart Chalmers and Andrew ‘keggs’ Mackenzie what could go wrong?
We had it in the bag! Keggs was up first with the idea of the fastest athlete first to give SRAC a good start. As the SRAC contingent waited at the finish line in anticipation of the return of the first leg runners, the excitement was electric!
A red vest appeared in the distance powering towards the finish in first place. Whispers of “keggs you legend” were being muttered by the SRAC support…………but as the runner got closer we soon realised it was the red of Forres Harriers and not that of SRAC.
However the field was still very tight and only 30 seconds between 1st and Keggs who returned in fourth place. Keggs passed over to Willie MacRury on the second leg, who looked like he was out to prove a point.
He set off hard and hunting down the runners in front. The excitement was building at the finish line! Willie had managed to pull two places back with SRAC sitting in silver position with only 38 seconds behind first placed Forres.
The excitement was at boiling point with shouts of encouragement from the support, “GO ON JONNY WE CAN DO THIS”! Staying in a medal position would put Stewart Chalmers with the potential to win it for us on the last leg.
However despite a solid run, Johnny Prichard had just slipped into 3rd overtaken by the 5th fastest man of the day. It all came down to Stewart Chalmers, and if he played as good a game as he talked then surely a medal would be returning to Lewis.
Stewart did not disappoint and ran the second fastest leg of the day finishing in third and securing the Bronze medal! All the runners from across the age groups were delighted with this result and it was a good way to round off a successful trip.
Special mention must go to Iain ‘Bom’ Mackay who made the effort to come along and run despite us not having enough athletes to enter a second team.
As usual there was a mad dash for the ferry with no time after the race to sample the fine buffet or even take a shower.
However A great day out was had by all and we will now look forward to the Lewis and Harris cross country season which kicks off 12th November. W M.