British Cross Country Challenge – Belfast


XC on the Emerald Isle

Saturday morning saw a group of 17  Giffnock North athletes plus coaches and parents do something most haven’t done for at least 2 years – get on a plane! Seamless timing made light of a tight schedule as the team flew to Belfast to take part in the penultimate leg of the British Cross challenge at Dundonald, near Stormont. The weather on the Emerald Isle did not disappoint , with beautiful blue skies over an undulating grassy course that was tougher than it looked.

First off were the u13 girls whose race was led from start to finish by Northern Irish World record holder Emer McKee. Freya Scobie was our top finisher in 6th place backed up by Eilidh Caldow and Eva Saez, with the girls claiming a team silver medal.

Calum Dick

Calum Dick ran a strong race to win the u13 boys event, with Ethan Scobie in 5th place and Luca Saez storming up the finishing straight to overtake several others and help the team to a bronze medal. Apparently this is Luca’s first ever athletics medal and his determination and speed at the end of a tough race suggest more medals will follow!

Next up were the u15 girls over 3k. Scarlett Wilson led the Giffnock team with a 6th place finish, Ruth Walsh not far behind and Katy Donnelly completing the team to again take a silver medal. Ella McWilliams, Scarlett Cunningham and Ellie Stewart also ran well over the grassy hilly course.

The sole Giffnock North entrant in the u15 boys event was Calan Chong after a weekend studying forced Alasdair Nugent to withdraw. Calan finished in 12th place in a strong field of good Northern Irish athletes.

Next up were three seniors who took part in the 4k Open and Masters race – not an official race in the British Cross series but a nice addition to allow seniors to race without having to toe the line alongside the International field later in the day.

Allie Chong

Andy Macdonald was first across the line from Giffnock North followed by Allie Chong ( taking the win in the female race) and Ricky Saez.

On to the u17 and u20 races, which incorporated the Celtic Games XC and Home Countries International events. The standard in both male and female races was exceptionally high.

Our very own Hannah Ryding confirmed her return to form with an emphatic victory in the u20 female race, beating Garscube’s Louisa Brown into second place. The Scottish team won gold in both team events, a fantastic result.

Freya Campbell competed brilliantly in the same 6k race to take individual bronze in her spanking new Scotland vest, helping the team to team silver and bronze medals in the international competitions ( being beaten by Ireland so demoted from silver to bronze in the Celtic Games event).

Reuben Macdonald survived a nasty spike injury to his foot during the u20 male race and ran strongly to finish as second Scottish counter in a team led home by Kilbarchan’s Lewis Hannigan, and one second ahead of great rival Fraser Gilmour from VPCOG . The Scotland team took home silver in both international races. Cameron Green had a fantastic run in the Giffnock vest, finishing ahead of one of the members of the Scotland team and undoubtedly throwing his hat into the ring for selection in future events.

Craig Shennan stepped up to the mark well in the u17 boys race, running very sensibly over the longer 6k distance than he has been used to. Sitting back for the first lap his tactics paid off as he came through strongly over the subsequent 4k to take individual bronze in a clean sweep of the medals for Scotland behind Connor Bell and Corey Campbell. Scotland obviously too both team golds too!

Young Zach Macdonald was not being outdone by his brother and dad and was the lone Scottish entrant in the Primary School 1k race, having a great run to finish 7th. A talent to watch!

That completed the runs for on Giffnock North athletes as Hamish Armitt had had to withdraw through injury, so everyone could relax and watch World XC champion Hellen Obiri storm through 4 laps and show everyone what a class act she is, winning the Senior women’s event ahead of Northern Ireland’s Hannah Irwin, with Mhairi Maclennan from Scotland having a good run to take bronze.

The senior men’s race was fast and furious with England’s Zak Mahamed having a superb final lap to win over Ilias Ouani ( Italy) and Stuart McCallum ( Scotland).

Tired but happy after a fun day of athletics the team hopped on the bus, then plane back to Glasgow accompanied by the athletes from Team Scotland. Definitely an event worth travelling for and one that will hopefully make an annual appearance on the Giffnock North calendar.

Next up might be some Media training seminars given by Calum Dick and Hannah Ryding who gave superb post race interviews to the Mayor of Belfast – all available to view on YouTube!

Report by Allie Chong