Curtain falls on cross country series

Last Saturday the final race in the Alex Murray Construction Lewis and Harris Cross Country Series took place in the battered Lews Castle Grounds.

But while the fallen lumber of Lady Matheson Park blocked many of the traditional routes, SRAC’s Gavin Earons found an imaginative and challenging route for the runners in the series finale.

On the day conditions were mild, dry and wind free, possibly perfect for running and it was clear to see on Saturday that; kids just love to run!

A total of 145 runners under 17 years old took part and 16 under 20 and senior runners.

The total of under 17’s running in the five race categories (U9, 11, 13, 15 and 17) was an astonishing 248 school age children.

The representation in all the younger race categories for both girls and boys came from every area of the island (Harris and Lewis).

Seven primary schools; Tong, Sgoil a Bhac, an Rubha, an Loch, Stornoway, Tong and Tolsta even managed to field a minimum team of three runners in every race. While both the Nicolson and Sir E Scott were also competing in the older age groups.

The day’s racing got going with the senior long (10k) and short (5k) course events which saw Scott MacRury and Norman Ferguson who sat on 7 points a piece going into the race having a right good battle over the four lap course.

Ferguson set off ahead of MacRury but on lap 3 Scott opened up a lead that he worked away at right through the fourth lap to take the victory on the day and the AMC Series title. (Alex Eve/AMC will be pleased with the Ness win!)

If things were close in the mens race then things were even closer in the U9 boys 1K and the U13 boys 2.6k events.

Tongs Keith Bray and Westside’s Charlie Morrison had a previous first and second place in the U9’s while Sir E Scott’s’ Aodhan Finnegan and the Nicolson’s David Morrison were in the same position in the boy’s under 13 category.

On the day it looked like Keith had a bit of fire in the eye that eventually saw him pip his level pegging leader by 13 seconds.

The U13 boys battled it right to the line and were only separated in the sprint for the line as Finnegan beat his training buddy Morrison by a mere 2 seconds.

The consistency over the three races of the series ensured an U9 series victory for Francesca Greenstock with three straight second places amassed the lowest aggregate score of 6 points.

Winning the third race was Mairi MacIver from Tolsta and her aggregate of 8points secured her second place overall.

Eilidh MacDonald continued Lionel’s very successful series by taking third overall with two third places and a fifth place.

Tolsta Pair Callum Mighton and Cameron MacLeod and Laxdale’s Luke Morrison went into the final race all with a chance of winning though the Laxdale boy had a slight points advantage.

Their efforts to become the Series winner didn’t disappoint in their 1.6k (1mile) race. Both Callum and Luke put in great runs with times of 7 mins 37 and 7 mins 39 respectively.

But a really good mile time for an under 11 of 7 mins 30 from Cameron meant he was the 2014/15 AMC champion.

The U11 girls seemed to be a bit more predictable as three very good young runners placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the past two races did exactly that in the final race of the series.

They were: Lionel’s Gemma MacRitchie who ran 7 mins 59 a very respectable time especially when compared to the boys times.

Runner-up was Krysta Bray, Tong and third Amy MacMillan from Tolsta. A good spread of representation from schools throughout the island.

Ellie MacLean also had a clean sweep of wins in the girls U13 race though Isla Budge did close the gap in this race and her ability in endurance sport is very evident. It was the third place in the series that the real battle took place in this race with Hannah Mayers, Carloway and Elizabeth Donner, Lionel started the race on an aggregate of 8points each.

The SRAC team mates from the recent North District Championships ran nip and tuck most of the way but in the last 600m Hannah started to open a little gap.

Thereafter this gap grew to seven seconds in Hannah’s favour to take bronze overall. But seven seconds is hardly a big gap over 2.6K or just over a mile and a half in ‘old money’!

The young Carloway and Lionel girls along with U11 winner Gemma MacRitchie who all train at SRAC running sessions look like a strong team to travel to the mainland and contest the North Championships next year.

The boys U15 race was dominated by SRAC’s Kyle Munro and his training buddies Scott MacIver, Finlay Emmott and Ali Binns. Kyle, a year the other boy’s senior, showed very good commitment to push hard to win with an unassailable margin.

But Scott, Finlay and Ali all ran hard in their last practice race before all four ‘pull on’ the red and gold of SRAC in Falkirk in a fortnight at the national championships.

Slightly disappointing with her run in the U15 girls was SRAC’s Joanna Gillies. But SRAC coaches continue to be optimistic about her running future as her commitment and drive to chase down the boys in mixed races is full of focus and determination.

Finally in the short course senior runners event the amazing ‘Fit Family’ the Sullivans are well worthy of a mention.Old man Sullivan (Mike) is an ever present stalwart of the AMC Series and this year he won the Platinum medal ahead of son Jamie who had to settle for gold behind his Dad.

Meanwhile Maw Sullivan completed another XCountry series and outright won the ladies event. Youngest of the family Rosie placed 6th in the U13 girl’s category and is another valuable member of SRAC’s very strong U13 team.

As the AMC XCountry Series closed out with a great day’s racing, organisers SRAC hope that as many of the 248 school age kids will come and run in the Western Isles Championships that will include entries from South Uist and Eriskay AAC and North Uist AAC on Saturday 22nd March. Details of this event and full results from AMC Series can be found on the SRAC web site.

Thanks to Alex Murray Construction in their eighth year of involvement with the Lewis and Harris XCountry Series and to the many helpers that made the event a success!