Connor Maclean hits the silver trail once again

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THE medals, records and personal bests keep piling up for Connor MacLean as the Stornoway Running and Athletics Club ace claimed the Under 15 boy’s runners-up place at the Scottish National Cross Country Championships in Falkirk at the weekend.

Going into the race the Stornoway starlet had been in fine fettle, showing off some blistering race pace in local races while he also proved to be the North’s top performer at the Scottish Inter District Cross Country event in January by taking a silver gong.

Running conditions could not have been better with a warm sun, no wind and firm underfoot conditions setting the scene for a great race.

From the blast of the starter’s pistol Connor and race favourite Josh Kerr of Edinburgh set off at pace together to race to the front of the field of one hundred and twelve runners.

By the time the pair completed the initial climb, descended to the narrow paths and rounded Calendar Park’s pond 1,500m into the 4K event, the lead had changed several times.

At the first serious climb Connor made a move to break away and looked to be opening up a good lead, but the Kerr responded on the downhill and took to the front again on the flat at half way.

As the course headed back towards the main crowd of spectators the young SRAC runner tried to run away from Kerr, but the move was once again matched.

The Edinburgh lad then made his own effort to take to the lead again on the final big climb of the day, quickly opening up a 25 metre lead.

The pair then disappeared behind a bank of trees and the final efforts of the race were fought out of sight of the spectators on the remains of the ancient Roman Antonine wall.

The SRAC team and island supporters now waited to see if the fight for the front would possibly change a final time. Or indeed, if the early efforts to break the field may allow the chasing pack to come back and change the medal placings in the last kilometre.

Kerr’s assault on the final climb proved successful as he appeared first in the home straight with the Stornoway runner holding for second place.

This really super run by Connor Maclean to take the runners-up place may be even better considered given that Kerr is the current UK and Celtic Nations’ cross country champion.

The pair have both been chosen to represent the Scottish District teams at the English Inter Counties Championships in Birmingham in a fortnight where their rivalries will be renewed.

As Connor’s race experience continues SRAC coaches have no doubt that further successes will follow and it will be interesting to see how things will unfold over the border in Birmingham in a fortnight’s time.

The Boy’s Under 13 race attracted a huge field of one hundred and thirty runners and included the SRAC pair, Rory Mighton and Kyle Munro.

Kyle ran a really clever wee race as he settled into a comfortable position from the start and worked his way through the places.

He eventually finished in 24th place and was the second placed North runner. Rory, along with Jane MacInnes in the Girl’s Under 15 race were both making their debuts at the National Championships, gained experience of such a big event and can look forward to working their way up the placings in future.

The Mackellar family act of Duncan and Peigi ran well to place mid pack in their respective Under 20 Mens and Under 15 Girls races. Duncan who has ran so well in the hills and country this winter was competing as an Under 20 for the first time and has a great opportunity to do well over the next two years in this category before hopefully adding strength and speed to the SRAC senior team.

SRAC once again managed to field a senior team, though perhaps not the strongest! But great credit to those that made the effort to ensure that six runners made the start line! Leading the way for the team was Murdo A MacKenzie who just missed out on a top 100 place.

For the readership this may not seem too high of a placing, but for most descent Scottish club runners, this is a real big target! Top 100 is a difficult target to meet. (MacKenzie was also the second placed North runner.)

Next in was Willie MacRury who can finally be happy that the hard winter training has resulted in a very well run National Championship.

The pair were followed in by club veteran’s Jonny Pritchard, Ross Munro (both mid-marathon training), Andy McMahon and Bom MacKay and were 24th team.