Last weekend was a busy one for SRAC as club runners took part in the Scottish National Cross Country Championships in Falkirk, the Scottish Indoor Track Championships and an attempted World Record half marathon run in Lossiemouth!
The National X Country championships is a ‘leveller’ of the running disciplines as the middle distance ‘speed-merchants’ come together on the grass (or mud as it turned out) against the longer distance road runners.
SRAC had a good combination of both, as well as a full range of young athletes in their prime and a mix of veteran runners, making up the club’s biggest men’s team entered in some years. But before the men’s race for the top six slots to count in SRAC’s ‘A’ team, there were junior runners taking part in under 13 and 15 races.
First to test themselves with the rest of Scotland’s club runners were Kyle Munro and Hugh McKenzie in the under 13 boy’s 3,200m race over a good but challenging course round Falkirk’s Callendar Park.
In his debut at the event Kyle didn’t hang around and put himself in good position early in the race and at half way on the course’s main climb his team mate Hugh was close behind.
Coming off the hill Hugh had a steely determination on his face and worked through the field over the second half of the race. His conviction to racing it out continued in the home straight as the SRAC team cheered him on crossing the line in 33rd place from the field of 99 runners.
Kyle also placed well and his finish mirrored the determination of his team mate Hugh, and this became even clearer to the SRAC support as the young athlete made his way back to the team tent in a muddied vest and bloody arm! A brave Kyle had fallen with a full kilometre to run and suffered a nasty graze to his forearm, however he ran through to finish in a very good debut run, 47th place only 25 seconds behind Hugh.
Kenneth MacSween and Michael MacMillan from the same training group as Hugh and Kyle continued their personal running duel with each other.
Kenneth almost predictably running well on an ‘away’ venue finishing ahead of Michael this time! Unfortunately the other half of their under 15 team suffered from the loss Jamie Sullivan and Connor Maclean through illness - let’s hope the foursome will all make it next year as they could place well in this team category.
In the under 15 girl’s race SRAC’s Harris girl Peigi McKellar had her best run at the National Championships. Peigi’s training and race plan came together well on the day as she ran an easier first half of the race and upped the work rate there after, batting down the home straight to take a fine 14th place from 71!
Though SRAC had its smallest junior entry for some years the senior men had two complete teams (six per team) to start the 12,000m race.
As mentioned cross country brings together the track ‘racing snakes’ and the marathon men and everyone had an opinion on who might be SRAC number 1 on the day at the National Championship following an interesting local race series.
Unlike the local ‘country’ events in the Castle Grounds of 6.4k (four miles), the National is run over 12k (seven and a half miles) and as the course was wet and the men’s race was last on the programme the course was totally ‘chewed-up’. It was extremely muddy and tough!
From the gun there was ambition from a number of SRAC runners to set a good early pace and hopefully run out club ‘top dog’. Keggs MacKenzie, Murdo MacKenzie and Andy Joyce took to the front in the 500 plus runners with Jonny Pritchard in close pursuit and the rest of the SRAC squad taking things a bit easier.
Through lap one of the three lap 12k Murdo MacKenzie moved away from Keggs and Andy and looked to be moving well. Into the second lap Jonny Pritchard took closer order and eventually overtook Murdo. Jonny didn’t tire and the outing to the National will all be part of his ‘grand’ marathon plan.
Indeed the strength training did the trick for Jonny as he held his position through the remaining lap and a half to finish 43 seconds ahead of team mate Murdo MacKenzie. Twenty seven places back, in 148th, was Andy Joyce who may have expected to finish higher in the field. But returning from a niggling achilles to run for the team at the National is the kind of spirit in the camp that made this a great club ‘day at the races’!
Keggs MacKenzie, not know to easily accept under performing, ran in as 4th counter and was first to mention being back to do better next year! Hopefully the lead four can move up into the top 100 and improve this year’s 22nd team place from 33 teams.
Veteran Ross Munro managed to hold off younger challengers as 5th counter and the final ‘A’ team place was taken by Malcolm Murray in his first National Cross.
The best island performance came from Stornoway based PE teacher Iain MacCorquodale running in the red of Cambuslang Harriers. Corky’s superb 17th place made him 3rd counter for Cambuslang taking the team bronze medal.
There was further medal success at the weekend’s National Indoor Track Championships as SRAC’s Donnie MacLeod placed second in the 800meters. Donnie ran a new indoor personal best of 1min 55.45 and picked up the club’s first senior indoor National medal.
Topping off the weekend was Andy McMahon’s World record attempt over the half marathon distance while wearing a respirator! ‘Gas mask Andy’s’ time of 1hour 27.23 was not only good enough to finish in 32nd place, but he smashed the World Record by 24 minutes!
Look out for his next big effort at the London marathon and perhaps look at his charity link on the club web site (to appear soon).
Next event is the club prize giving Saturday evening and on March 17th the Woody’s Express Western Isle Cross Country Championships in Stornoway.