Stornoway Running and Athletics Club took a team of 12 athletes to Aberdeen for the Scottish Scottish Age Group Track and Field Championships. Events were spread over two days with the u14 and u18 athletes taking part on day one with the u16s competing on day two. Conditions on the Saturday were not good with a strong headwind on the finishing straight and heavy rain for a while - making it all but impossible for the athletes to run personal bests.
First up was Mary Macleod in the u14 100m sprint, she ran really strongly into the 5m/s headwind to finish in 4th place in her heat. The headwind in her race was the strongest of all the heats and she was really unlucky to miss out on qualifying for the “B” final by just one place and by only 7 hundredths of a second. Later on in the day, she competed in the long jump competition. Her first jump proved to be her best at 3.92 metres despite taking off from before the board – a repeat of that jump but from on the board would have given her 4th or 5th place but as it was she finished 14th in the competiton. An excellent performance bearing in mind that this was the Scottish National Championships.
Next to race was Connor Maclean in the u18 1500m steeplechase. Despite the fact that this was his first ever steeplechase the SRAC squad were confident he could do well. From the gun Connor settled down in third place and looked comfortable as they hurdled there way round the first lap. During the second lap, it was clear he was keen to up the pace but stuck to his race plan and sat in behind the leader. His lack of experience was showing over the hurdles but his flat speed more than made up for that as the front three pulled away from the rest of the field. He was right on the shoulder of the leader at the bell but could not match the sudden injection of pace and suddenly found himself over 10m behind in third place. His held the gap as they raced along the back straight and started closing on the leaders around the last bend. A poor jump at the final water jump cost him momentum and put paid to any hopes he had of catching the other two. He powered down the home straight and finished in the third place to win a National age group medal on his Steeplechase debut!
In the u14 category, Catriona Rigby (800m and 200m), Alasdair Binns (800m), Rory Mighton (800m and high jump) and Ross Budge (80m hurdles and 200m) all performed just outside their personal bests in very windy conditions. This was a big step up in class for them but they handled it well and have gained valuable experience in competing at national level. They are all determined to come back fitter, faster and stronger next year! Rory finished 6th in the high jump – jumping the same height as 4th place but losing out on countback.
The u16 age group events started with Andrew Horne, Ross MacTaggart and Alasdair Rigby in the 100m. Heat one saw Alasdair finish in second place (12.50s) and qualify for the “B” final. Ross and Andrew had a great head to head race in their heat, with Ross just pipping Andrew to the line by 2 hundredths of a second. Alasdair improved slightly (12.49s) in his final to take 7th place.
Amy Hutcheson started her day with the 300m, her sub 50s time was good enough for 7th place in her heat. A couple of hours later she was back on the track for her 200m heat when she ran well into the wind to take 5th place in a time of 30.52s. Neither times were quite good enough to qualify her for the finals.
Michael Macmillan has been running well all year, so there was high expectation of a good result when he came out for his 800m heat. He did not disappoint. He cruised round in lane 2 to keep out of trouble and qualified easily for the final in 2m 10.4s. Later in the afternoon he was back on the track for the final. He ran superbly, keeping up with the leaders and crossing the line in 5th place with a lap to go. The pace quickened. he went with it and soon moved up into 4th place. The top four pulled clear of the rest with Michael finishing strongly but he could not gain the one more place required for a him to win a medal. He had a given it his best shot, ran a new personal best (2m 4.4s) and finished 4th at the Nationals - well done Michael!
The 200m event saw Alasdair, Andrew and Ross back out on the track. Andrew was really unlucky, he thought he heard a recall gun and eased up, realized there was no false start and started running again. He finished in 26.71s to narrowly miss out on a place in the “B” final. No such problems for Alasdair and Ross, they ran in the same heat and both qualified for the “B” final. Alasdair had just finished ahead of Ross in the heat but Ross was set on turning the tables in the final. He started really fast and eased ahead of Alasdair, who responded down the home straight and started closing the gap. With 20m to go Ross was still ahead but the strong finishing Alasdair dug deep and dipped for the line. The photo-finish equipment was required to split them – Alasdair had got there by just one hundredth of a second to take 6th place.
This was a very successful trip for a small running club, all athletes represented the club to the best of their ability on the day, coped very well with competing at national level and gained valuable experience of the different procedures involved at high level competition – well done one and all.