The SRAC Invitational Track and Field Match - back on the SRAC calendar after an absence in 2016 - saw over 200 athletes gather in Stornoway on Saturday 9th September.
It proved to be another great weekend of top class athletics, new and old friendships, and some legendary SRAC hospitality in the form of the lunch spread and the after event party.
This time round the town hall was the venue, with a a disco led by Crazy Carl, and some high octane ceilidh dancing action to tunes from Stephen Drummond and friends.
With top mainland clubs, Giffnock North, Central and Livingstone ‘making their way to Stornoway’, and a strong Uist select also in attendance, it was to prove to be a highly competitive match with some excellent performances across the age groups.
The aim of this event when it was set up by SRAC stalwart Ross Munro in 2011 was to bring top class competition to SRAC’s athletes’ own doorstep, as an alternative to always be travelling away, and that’s exactly what we had.
Some of the best athletes in the country made the trip – with a chance for them to bond as a team, and the Stornoway & Uist youngsters once again rose to the challenge.
First up on the track were the hurdles. It’s been good to see the Western Isles athletes doing well and making an impact on the national rankings recently, and the proof of that progress was there to be seen in Stornoway.
There was excellent win for North Uist’s U13 girl, Amy Ringstead, in the 70m hurdles - her 12.53 a new PB which sees her finish the season ranked no. 11 in Scotland.
In the girl’s U15 75m hurdles event, SRAC’s Gemma MacRitchie, ranked 9th in Scotland was taking on the Scottish no. 1, Briagha Cook from Central AC.
It was a good, solid run from Gemma as she came home 2nd in 12.76. But Briagha showed exactly why she’s no. 1 with a fluid display of sprinting and hurdling to win well clear in 11. 57.
The girl’s U15 B race saw further SRAC success with Mary Anne MacPhail having a good win in 13.20, and Mary Anne finishes the season ranked 35.
North Uist also had further success with U15 John Scanlon finishing fourth in the boy’s 80m hurdles race, in a PB equalling 13.25, ranking him 19th in Scotland, and there was further hurdles improvement from U17 girl, Trinity Johnson with her 3rd place 13.1 run in the 80m hurdles a new PB which see her ranked 16th in Scotland.
One of the best things about this event is the chance to give our younger athletes the opportunity to test themselves, and U11 Sara MacIver was one of our youngsters who got that chance as part of the U13 team.
She had a great 800m debut run, as she took 4th in the A race in 2.56.11, running against some athletes who were a full 2 years older than her ! Her SRAC team-mate, Lewis MacLean also had a very good run as he finished 3rd in boy’s A race in 2.36.76 – just outside his PB.
Another plus with the SRAC Invitational is the chance for athletes to give new events a go, and U15 sprinters, Matthew MacLeod and Ewan MacLeod, did their bit for the team, with both tackling the 800m. Matthew took 4th in the A race in 2.33.50, with Ewan 3rd in the B race in 2.35.03.
In the field SRAC’s girls were doing well in the Long Jump. U13 Hannah MacKenzie took 3rd in the A string with a jump of 13.62m, while her team-mate Alyth MacLeod won the B string with 13.41m – both PBs.
There were also excellent new bests for the U15 girls, with Molly MacLeod taking 3rd in the A string (14.40m) and Mary Anne MacPhail (14.33m) winning the B string – performances which see the girls break in to the national rankings at 50 and 55.
North Uist U13 athlete Calum MacDonald also did well, his PB jump of 4.20m to finish 5th overall, ranking him 30th in the country; and his U20 team-mate, DJ MacMillan had an excellent 5.99m PB jump, seeing him ranked at 21 nationally.
In the 100m races, there were a number of strong performances from Stornoway athletes which show great potential for the future. U13 girl, Hannah MacKenzie finished 3rd in the A race in 14.56, with Sophie Smith 2nd in the B race in 14.74, but the top SRAC U13 girl’s run came from Ellen McMurdo as she won the B race, running as a guest, in an excellent 14.39 !
Top SRAC U13 boy sprinter was Logan Spence as he won the B race in 14.14. Logan is still an U11 and was another of our younger athletes who took the opportunity to be part of the SRAC U13 team in his stride. His U13 team-mate, Ewan Murray, also did well, finishing 4th in the A race in 14.55.
U15 SRAC youngster, Tam MacLennan, is a new name to athletics, and made his debut for the club in style, with a superb 12.50 100m run to finish 4th in the A race. There was also a very good run by SRAC guest Seb Connelly to finish 3rd in the B race in 13.41, just ahead of team-mate and B pick David Morrison – 13.71.
In the 2 guest 100m races there were also wins for SRAC girls, U15 Krysta Bray in 14.26, and U13 Lucy Barron in 15.30.
U17 SRAC girl, Sian MacDonald had a fantastic day, winning the 100m and breaking 13 seconds for the first time for an excellent blowy PB of 12.86. U17 Scott MacIver also continued his sprints improvement with a good 11.81 100m run in the boy’s A race, the wind again though too strong for it to register as a national ranking time.
Sian then went on to have an equally impressive run in the 200m in the afternoon, as she finished 2nd in a high quality field, and smashed the 27 seconds barrier for the first time in another windy PB - 26.54 ! Both of Sian’s sprint races featured top 15 age group runners, so it was great to see such confident and assured runs from Sian.
The other SRAC runs leading the 200m performances were Lewis MacLean’s 29.42 to finish 4th in the U14 Boy’s A race, and Mathew MacLeod’s 26.55 in the U15 A race to also finish 4th – both windy PBs.
In the High Jump, SRAC U15 girl, Molly MacLeod took an excellent 3rd place with a 1.35m debut jump. Not bad going considering she’d only started it earlier in the week – learning the basics.
Fellow U15 Tam MacLennan also did really well, finishing 3rd with a 1.50m clearance which sees him break in to the Scottish rankings at 30, and both have potential to progress further as their technique improves.
The U13s, also new to the event, did really well too.
There was a 1.20m clearance for Logan Spence, with Finlay MacLeod clearing 1.05m – both boys still only U11s; and the SRAC U13 girls – Mary Ann Binns and Christina Matheson also had excellent debuts with both clearing 1.15m, and U11 Kaitlin MacDonald, competing as a guest, had an excellent 1.10m clearance !
In the Throws, it was in the Shot Put that the island athletes were flexing their muscles. Isla MacDonald, another of the U11s making her SRAC team debut, had a brilliant performance, throwing 6.03m to break in to the U13 national rankings at no. 56 ! With 2 more years in the same age group, there’s no doubt that Isla will continue to climb the SP rankings.
North Uist’s U15 girl Marion McCorquodale who is currently ranked 15th in Scotland, also did well winning the U15 Shot Put with a throw of 8.77m. Her team-mate, U13 Calum MacDonald – his preferred events being sprints and long jump - showed his multi-events athletics prowess with an excellent SP PB of 6.87m to again make the national rankings at 23 ; and Stornoway U15 Tam MacLennan did similar, making his debut and finishing 3rd with a fine throw of 9.61m to break in to the rankings at 23.
Back on the track, and in the final individual event, the 1500m, the top performances came from the youngest age group, with Charlie Morrison having an excellent third place run in the boy’s U13 race, running 5.28.25 to take a massive 5 seconds of his PB, an excellent reward for the hard work that Charlie has put in in recent weeks.
There was also a strong debut 1500m run for U13 SRAC girl, Rachel Murray as she took 3rd place in 6.02.08!
The 4 x 100m relays then finished off a fantastic day of athletics, with a boys and girls race for each of the 3 age groups.
This was another great opportunity for our youngsters to get the chance to compete as a team and they did really well, but tellingly it was the strength of the Giffnock North team which saw them win 4 of the 6 races, and in the end that showed in the final results with the Glasgow side coming out on top over the day to win the SRAC Invitational Trophy
The final results -
1. Giffnock North 800
2. Stornoway 622
3. Livingstone 576
4. Central 564
5. Uist Select 462
All involved with SRAC and the track and field event would like to extend their grateful thanks to all at who made it happen - athletes, coaches, parents, officials, and volunteers, and the main organising team. A special thanks also to John Horne for moving and hauling, and to Tony Wade and his team at the Sports centre - and to event sponsors, Lewis Wind Power, E-Car Hebrides, Tech Mobile, and to the councillors who helped make it happen with donations.
A special mention also to Joan MacRae Design who degined the logo for the highly sought after SRAC Invitational 2017 t-shirts, and also to the Co-op for the fruit and bottles of water provided to all athletes.
The SRAC juniors - and the coaches - are now on a welcome break until all the athletes are back in their spikes for winter training and the start of the x-country season on Saturday 7th October when things resume in the Castle Grounds.