Fab Feb for XC Flyers

Report by Croy Thomson

FAB FEB FOR CROSS COUNTRY FLYERS – SEVEN TEAM PRIZES AND FOUR INDIVIDUAL MEDALS INCLUDING U17 GOLD FOR HAMISH ARMITT, as Giffnock North AC tie yellow (and blue) ribbons round the old Falkirk course.

IT WAS JUST ANOTHER FEBRUARY DAY … sun splitting the heavens,a warm breeze and a smooth, dry course at the Scottish National Cross Country. Not what we’re used to at all – indeed, it was so tropical that Coach Thomson was seen to remove his scarf and woolly hat.

Some things never change, though, and the effort from all our teams was as ever at its whole-hearted, enthusiastic, brilliantly supported and well rewarded best from first gun to final spike across the finish mats. Four team golds, two team silvers, a team bronze, an individual crown and three more individual medals added up to one of the most successful days in the club’s history. What a day.

Our U13 Girls set the pace with a team bronze over 3.1k, won by Amber Wade, Katy Donnelly, Esme Dougal and Emma Maclennan, who was chased home in fine style by Amy Vincent. Next on the podium were U13 gold-medal boys Craig Shennan, Alex Robin, Calan Chong and Adam Chamberlain – Alex and Calan were given 12th and 13th places in precisely the same 12 minutes, 25 seconds for the 3.1k.

Under 15 girls Julia Cash (blue and yellow ribbons flying) and Hannah Ryding stormed to memorable silver and bronze individual medals, practically shoulder to shoulder down the finishing straight after 4.1k, distanced only by Fife AC star Anna Hedley. With Kate Paul in a blistering sixth and Abby Thomson 13th, the U15 Girls’ team gold was accepted for a remarkable seventh year in a row (after seven years of not winning it, strangely enough).

Seldom ones to be outshone, the U15 boys delivered another team gold over the rolling – okay, hilly – 4.1k circuit. Harris Paterson went within a whisker of an individual medal, blazing over the line just five seconds behind the winner and a single tick behind second and third. Harris’s heroics didn’t go unrewarded, as Reuben Macdonald, Jacob Luc and Ross O’Brien packed in brilliantly for team victory, with Cameron Deverill and Hugh Shiels not far behind. Special mentions to a) Ross for battling on when feeling decidedly off-form, and b) Cameron Green, who lost a spike at the start and fought on for half the race before deciding that his be-socked foot had had enough punishment for the day, and wisely dropped out. Cameron is recovering well, we are told. No news of the sock.

The day grew warmer. The racing got hotter. Hamish Armitt, our U17 Inter District Champion, went from the ‘B’ of ‘Bang!’ and simply ran away from his rivals, all high-calibre racers. After six kilometers and 21 minutes, four seconds, Hamish broke the tape more than 40 seconds clear of Garscube’s Jack Trainer, to put an U17 title alongside his U13 and U15 equivalents. Jack Bell, Ethan Carolan and Blayne Wright strode home to help put another Giffnock squad on the podium for silver – the first team silver the U17 Boys have ever won, after two golds and seven bronzes.

Hamish’s stamina was further tested by an extended interview after the race with the on-course video team … we didn’t time it but the interview seemed to last longer than the race: poor Hamish’s legs must have been tightening something drastic. Photo-Bomber Award 2019 goes to Andrew Love for his cheery thumbs up as he ‘accidentally’ strolled behind Hamish and into camera-shot.

Helen Chong delivered her usual determined effort to lead U17s Kate Richardson and Clare Wallace to Under 17 girls gold and glory, our fourth team title of the day, again over 6k.

Coach Thomson, overcome by heat exhaustion, at this point had to lie down in the shade and restore his strength with a flask of coffee and a humungous muffin from the fabled Caroline Wright Cake Shoppe. From his vantage point, Thomson cheered on the senior ladies, whose Jill Smyllie led Allie Chong, Yvonne McNairn, Frances Lowrie and Sheila Lewis to a commendable ninth place after 10k (and more, I’m reliably informed) of tough racing. Three laps on that course would tire anyone out, so I sat down throughout.

The U20 Men didn’t feature in the medals, but they gamely flew the blue and amber flag over 7.5k, so hats off to Andrew Love, Ben Shaw, Kieran Killen and Cormac O’Hara. Commiserations to Calum Young who had to drop out after twisting his ankle.

Erin Wallace continued her exceptional tradition in the National with a hard-earned individual U20 silver over 7.5k behind fellow GB international Eloise Walker of Edinburgh AC, Erin reeling in Edinburgh Uni’s Naomi Lang over the last 1500 meters with a sustained late charge. Rhona Mowat and Lynn McKenna joined Erin on the podium for team silver, edging Glasgow Uni by three points. Glasgow Uni’s squad included our very own Emily Crusher, and ex-Giffnock athletes ran in the senior race for Fife AC (Megan Crawford) and Shettleston (Ruth Joss).

As a gentle smirr of rain reminded us of what February is supposed to feel like, Senior Gents Chris Greenhalgh, Michael Cross, Luke Chamberlain, Ted Gourley, Jordan Orr and Mark Sutherland brought the club home twentieth of 42 completing teams amid no less than 719 finishers.

To one and all who competed, from firstest to lastest, fastest to not-so-fastest, take a bow, there’s no easy way round National courses, and however you did it, you did the club proud. Sympathy goes to those who had to drop out or not toe the start line thanks to injury or other obligations: you’ll be back, and welcome. Thanking you bigly also you unsung supporters, pals, fans, coaches, tent wranglers and officials (cheers to Jim and Doleen Galbraith who came to Ross’s aid at the finish, and to Allie Chong who also assisted there and elsewhere). Thank you, the families, with a particular pat on the back to Rosie the Paterson Labrador, making yet another appearance in club vest – if she hasn’t paid her subs, well, we’ve a bone to pick with her. Bark my words, Rosie deserves to be unleashed on the podium next time around, like Fife AC’s wee collie dug this year.

I don’t know how we’ll surpass this edition of the National, but I’m sure we’ll have fun trying. Onwards!

Thanks Croy, our man at the scene, for a great report which fully captures the atmosphere of the day and the efforts of all the athletes competing.
The photo of Hamish Armitt is courtesy of Bobby Gavin and others courtesy of Gary Leek and David Chong. Thanks to all.