Report by Croy Thomson
Photos courtesy of Bobby Gavin and Dudley Walker
GIFFNOCK NORTH AAC raced to one of the club’s best-ever days at the showcase Lyndsay’s National Cross Country Championships in Falkirk last Sunday. In classic cross-country cold, wet and windy conditions, the southside club enjoyed success from junior level to senior, claiming two individual titles, two team crowns and its first-ever senior medalist, along with three further team awards.
We had a gratifyingly high number of athletes out, facing the thoroughly awful weather (“Arctic blast” was a phrase used on a radio weather forecast), so well done everyone who graced the turf … er, mud … especially the really young ones, who went to the start line in serious numbers … and wearing some fairly serious expressions, it has to be said: race faces on!
Luke Traynor, Under 20 champion two years ago, proved he’s back from an injury-stricken year by nailing the club’s first senior medal, earning bronze after a 12.5k battle against the best of Scottish opposition and the worst of the weather. Traynor gambled on starting blisteringly fast on the first of three laps, sticking with GB internationals Andrew Butchart (Central AC) and Calum Hawkins (Kilbarchan) but they proved too strong on the middle set of hills, and the Newton Mearns man then had to fly solo, doggedly resisting challenge after challenge from a series of rivals before finally prevailing in an all-or-nothing final sprint. Giffnock’s men’s team finished a commendable 16th, with Luke spearheading Kerrick Hesse, David Sawyer, Ted Gourley, Jason Steel and Luke Chamberlain; our women posted 22nd, with Sheila Lewis. Debi Scott, Caroline Gibson and Maureen McVey to the fore.
Giffnock’s juniors like the limelight too, and Hamish Armitt stepped up with a front-run gold in the U13 boys event over 3.2k, ably backed by Jack Bell, Ethan Carolan and Scott Jenkins for team bronze. Heather Barnes put in a lung-busting effort for fourth place in the U13 girls’ event, outgunned for personal glory on the podium only in the final 100 metres, but having the consolation of team gold alongside team mates Sofia Kirkpatrick, Lisa Miller and Clare Wallace. Clare’s sister Erin defended her 2014 title in imperious style over 4k, with solid top-twenty support from Nikki Miller, Camilla McKnespiey and Emily Crusher for her club’s second team gold of the day. It’s worth noting that the next four U15 girls, if rules permitted, would have taken bronze with their 119 points, so respect to Lynn McKenna, Danielle Kelly, Charlotte McKenna and Kate Saxon.
Hard-fought team bronzes were earned by the U15 boys squad of Andrew Love, Harry Nimmo, Jamie Sturrock and Michael Lowrie, and U17 girls Sarah Eunson, Holly Still and Kirsty Griffiths.
Former GN junior Madeleine Murray, now competing for Edinburgh AC, won the Senior Women’s race in a thrilling sprint finish with Hunters Bog Trotters’ Rosie Smith. In an exclusive interview with the GN XC Correspondent, when asked about the burst of acceleration that won the day, Murray gasped, “I don’t know where that came from!” We think it came from the track sessions at Williamwood when you were a teenager, but maybe we’re biased: Congratulations, Maddie!
Through pelting sleet, Senior Coach Bernie Campbell said, “The club thanks all the officials, volunteers, parents and supporters for their commitment over the winter. We look forward to a summer of speed on the track and sun on our backs.”