GNAC/ Virtual Challenge report

Photos from Junior Sunday Park Training Session 20th December 

Virtual Challenge 2

Giffnock North roundup

“Faster, higher, stronger,” goes the Olympic motto. To that maybe let’s add, “Smarter” – technology is helping athletes to compete against each other over the same distance on different days in different places, record and monitor their performances, and rapidly compile, compare and share the results, on a significant scale. 

It’s taken a load of ingenuity, patience, communication, trust and effort by volunteers, coaches and officials, and there are flaws in the process, but it can’t be denied that the Lindsays Virtual Challenges have added interest and entertainment to some pretty bleak months. There’s a definite edge, as you go into the last couple of laps of a 3k, say, when you know your age-group rivals will also be posting fast times … never mind that they’re two hundred miles away: every second counts!

The latest edition of the Lindsays Virtual Challenge, held 4th to 7th December, attracted participation from over 70 clubs across Scotland. Giffnock North AC was well to the fore, in quality as well as quantity.

The Total Distance category saw us second behind neighbours Bellahouston Road Runners (435k to 221.5). We took the same place in the Combined Age/Gender Challenge, this time behind Central AC, our best efforts across the various distances adding up to one hour 17 minutes and 49 seconds, thanks to Oliver Bryers, Cameron Deverill, Reuben Macdonald, Cris Walsh and James Leaf.

The age group breakdowns threw up some remarkable stats and performances.

In the 10k Open, Cris Walsh, Andy Macdonald and Jill Smyllie brought us home in fourth overall, with Cris’s effort earning him third in the M45s, and Jill topping the Women’s Masters ladder. 

The 5k Open saw Reuben Macdonald, Cameron Green and Iain Carroll in fifth. Iain’s run put him top of the M40 category, and cheers to Rob Crusher, third in the M55s, and Allie Chong second in the W45s. Not many Under 17s ran the 5k, so hats off to Reuben for his 15:54 and Cameron for the 16:01. Big shout out too to U17 Girl Charlie Frew for her fine 18:25.

In the 3k, Cameron Deverill, Craig Shennan and Alex Robin gave us another team second behind Central AC. Cameron was third individual out of 151 entrants (and top Under 17 male) over this distance and we had four in the top 13, including an outstanding nine minutes 31 second clocking from Alasdair Nugent. 

Anji Carson’s 13 minutes 24 seconds posting gave her sixth in the 3k Women’s Masters. The 3k provided a happy hunting ground for our U17 Girls: we placed six in the top nine in the age group:

1, 2, 3 were Hannah Ryding, Valencia Wright and Kate Paul, all under 11 minutes, then fifth, seventh and ninth were Zoe Flower, Isla Scott and Kirsten O’Donoghue, all under 12 minutes.

The U15 Girls ran nine girls into the top 25, with Katy Donnelly, Millie MacFarlane, Ella Youngs, Ruth Walsh and Hazel O’Donoghue all under 12 minutes.

The 1500m Challenge saw Freya Campbell top the U13 Girls listings with her five minutes seven seconds effort, backed by Lauren McPherson third and Sarah McNulty fourth. The U13 boys over the same distance packed six into the top nine places, with Oliver Bryers third overall (four minutes 48 seconds), followed closely by Thomas Reay, Calum Dick, Lewis Davidson, Tristan Robin, Patrick Fraser, Charlie McAllister and Matt Shaw.

Never ones to be left out, the Under 11s also contributed to the excitement. Logan McNulty clocked a splendid five minutes 18 second 1500 metres time to claim second on the listings, with Finlay Laskey only five ticks behind. Holly Simpson and Nicole Yates were top class sixth and seventh U11 Girls in five minutes 48 seconds and five minutes 49 respectively.

Apologies to those unmentioned, the internet isn’t big enough to include you all. Huge applause and respect to all who turned out and participated so enthusiastically in making the Challenges possible. We are more than a club, and athletics is more than a sport.

Final thoughts

It’s never going to replace the real thing, and the results are indicative rather than comprehensive, but the Lindsays Virtual Challenges are surely to be praised and supported for their enterprising approach, their scope and the focus they have provided. The markers put down in times will be used for selections in upcoming races – fingers crossed we salvage some races in the Spring – so we still have a structure in place that provides incentives and encouragement. 

PS Only in the writing of this did I discover that the word ‘smart’ used in the technological sense derives from ‘Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology’. And here was me thinking it was Several Miles of Agonised Road and Track. Every day a school day.

Full results:

Thanks to Croy Thomson for this report !

The next virtual challenge for Endurance is scheduled for early January . More information will be made available by coaches as initial arrangements will have to be changed as a result of our return to Tier 4 Regulations after Boxing Day