Woody’s Express Western Isles Cross Country Championships had it all in the Lews Castle Grounds; race day nerves, pre-race excitement, groans of exertion, close run races and outstanding individual performances.
After weeks of high winds and rain the day could not have been better for all those that travelled from all over the islands’ to run in the Lady Lever Park!
There were youngsters from South Uist and Eriskay that had started the day at 5.45am and still bursting with excitement to get running. North Uist AAC came in large numbers with runners in almost every category and schools from all over Lewis.
The race timetable started with a massed race that included senior men and women and under 17 men. There was little doubt that SRAC’s National champion Connor MacLean would lead the race and dictate its pace. Training partner Michael MacMillan covered his move as best as possible and the pursuing pack were headed by North Uist’s fine 800/1500m runner Paul Morrison racing stride for stride with SRAC’s senior runner Willie MacRury.
However, the massed start was not all about the ‘hares’ at the front end of the race as there were all sorts of abilities and ages slogging it out over the castle grounds turf and mud.
For the men that was a distance of 7.5K and for the ladies and U17 men 5K. Stephan Smit and Peter MacInnes may have bee a wee bit ‘off the pace’, but what better, tougher preparation for London Marathon than 40 some minutes of undulating character building terrain! In Stephan’s case also the added bonus of being first veteran.
For those spectating it took just under 18 minutes before they got to cheer the first Woody’s Express Western Isles champion over the line. Connor MacLean took the line first ahead of Michael and Paul Morrison clocked a good time of 18 mins 28 for third place. Jayne Millar of Westside Runners took the ladies title in 25.46 ahead of Laura Jane Davies and Ceitlin Smith.
See this week’s Stornoway Gazette - on sale now - to read the rest of the Cross Country report.