The first Silverware of Mod week came back on last Saturdays ferry following SRAC’s very good performance at the North of Scotland Cross Country Relays Championships in Thurso!
The boys team made up of one runner from each of the junior age groups (U13, U15 and under 17) all running two and a half kilometres each on a very testing route!
First to run was “new boy” Finlay Emmott and as the starters gun popped, he wisely settled in and took up good position before the first of three steep climbs in the opening 600meters! All three climbs though fairly extreme did have good underfoot condition and Finlay looked very good descending each climb at eye catching speed. On the third climb which led to the back of the course Finlay had taken up second position ahead of the Inverness Harriers team and in pursuit of an East Sutherland team that led by some distance.
The high part of the route levelled off and gave the runners a chance to recover and pick up their pace on an open moor expanse that was rutted and wet. As Finlay came back into sight of the spectators at the finish line he had one final climb to complete and then descent to the finishing straight. The margin between the red and gold of SRAC and the Harriers were very close. A determined effort was put in by the Inverness lad as both runners descended into the final run for the line! But, Finlay held his advantage and turned a 4 second lead into an 8 second lead at the “hand-over”!
Hugh McKenzie was next to run and worked hard in the hilly opening 600, his strength however was not quite enough to stop the Harriers team move into second place. Regardless Hugh stuck to the task, kept his concentration (through the pain), got his head down and worked to maintain the gap between second and third to give his team mate Michael MacMillan every chance to attack for a higher placed finish. Often running can be seen as individual’s event and in competition runners can reduce their efforts as their placing and time doesn’t affect anyone but themselves. In the Relay this is not the case and the opposite is in fact the case! Every second counts in the total team effort and in this second leg run Hugh made sure he gave Michael the best chance possible!
Like Hugh, Michael has clocked impressive improvement personal best’s at middle distance on the track over 800m and confidence was good as he set off in chase of the leading runners! Inverness moved into the lead briefly, but the lead was quickly regained by East Sutherland and it was now a straight fight for silver and bronze with Inverness and Stornoway.
Michael’s opening 600 was deceiving as his speed was hard to gauge because of the hilly nature of the opening section of the course. The long legs of “mantis” MacMillan really started to open up over the long moor section as was evident by the gap he had established before the final climb in sight of the finish line. First place was beyond SRAC as East Sutherland’s Ross Gollan put in the fastest leg of the day (8mins 40) and in the home straight Michael had more than enough time to glance over his shoulder to confirm that the second spot was “in the bag”!
The race was a highly entertaining one to watch and a real good contest! In taking the first silverware of Mod week back to the island, the club and supporters congratulate, Finlay, Hugh and Michael.
All attention now turns to the “open” North Championships in Nairn on November 9, where SRAC will look to contest each age group race in big numbers! Training towards that event will start each Saturday meeting at 10.30 at Porters Lodge.