COUNT ON GIFFNOCK NORTH AT LINDSAYS NATIONAL XC
NATIONAL CROSS-COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN NUMBERS, but here are a few anyway: five team golds, two team silvers, one team bronze, two individual champions, one individual silver and five individual bronzes. Add lofty places from our Senior Men and Women’s Teams and you have a sum of a happy day out at Callender Park, Falkirk, although inevitably on such occasions the racing wasn’t without its moments of disappointment for some.
Under 13 Golden Girls. In near ideal, cool, windless conditions, our Under 13 Girls stormed to team gold over 3.2k with outstanding efforts from the consistent Holly in third for individual bronze (12:46, six seconds behind East Lothian’s winner) Eilidh in fourth, ably backed by Millie and Eve, 11th and 13th respectively. Our next four home – Isabella, Emma, Megan and Nicole – would have taken, if rules allowed, second team prize. Major applause also to Samantha, Eve, Erika, Beth, Anna, Rose, Lily-Grace and Lilah for their resolute efforts over the sticky stuff.
No pressure on the U13 Boys then … and they responded magnificently, with Louie determinedly tracking his season-long Victoria Park nemesis, deep into 3.2k of twists, turns and hills, until finally having to settle for individual silver (11:59 to 11:53). The team supported Louie breathtakingly well: hats off to Cameron, Max and Finlay in fourth, fifth and seventh; commiserations to Cameron in eighth, and Ethan, Kian and Adam, whose combined points total of 81 is better than the 94 of Edinburgh who took silver. (Rules is rules … but the whole squad can look back on a memorable performance on the biggest day in Scottish cross country.) Put your frozen hands together once more for James, Noah and Matthew, who also fought hard for the amber and blues.
U15 Girls 10/10. Since and including season 2012/13 Giffnock North’s U15 Girls had won every national XC team gold (though Pandemic AC locked everyone out in 2021). Could this year’s class extend the run to ten in a row? They could. They did. Freya C toughed it out over 4k against Kilbarchan and Inverness rivals, ultimately claiming a fine bronze in 17:01 to lead Scarlett (eighth), Freya S (16th) and Amy (21st) to the top of the podium. Able support came from Lauren, Erin, Isla, Eva, Maya, Hannah and Ella. Certain other Glasgow teams have tried for generations to win ten in a row, but our girls got there first!
U15 Boys polish off a silver. The lads didn’t clinch team gold but it wasn’t for want of trying. Tristan confirmed his winter’s blistering form with a hard-earned individual victory over 4k in 14:43, along with Calum in third to seal a National XC rarity: two athletes from one club on the same podium at the same time. In a white-hot finish, two seconds covered the first three finishers. Sealing team silver (just four points off winners Harmeny AC) were Thomas and Matthew, solidly backed by Aaron, Patrick, Charlie and Myles.
U17 Girls great eight. The club’s eighth U17 Girls crown came courtesy of a powerhouse 6.2k from the redoubtable Esme, who worked her way through the field for fifth in 25:20, backed by great efforts from Ruth and Saoirse in seventh and ninth respectively. Ella gave us another top-twenty finish, and let’s hear it for Tuscany, Mili, Scarlett, Hazel, Amy and Ellie who gave their all for the squad over a demanding 6.2k.
U17 Boys at the double. We haven’t won this age category team prize often at all, so it was extra pleasing to land back-to-back titles after last season’s victory and in one of the lowest points totals yet by any club. Craig led the winning quartet home, individual third behind impressive athletes from Central AC and Fife (20:47 to the winner’s 20:36), after an intense two-lap 6.2k battle that saw Craig’s team-mates Oliver and Alasdair well to the fore in the lead group. Oliver and Alasdair finished fourth and sixth, with the ever-consistent Matthew final counter in 11th.
Also running memorably for the club were Jack, Glen, Calan and Ruari – all in the top 34 – along with Zac and James. Again, our second quartet would have medalled if rules allowed. That’s how strongly this squad run for each other, well done boys.
U20 Women’s individual gold has always eluded us. Until now. Hannah Ryding, only a week after a successful debut for GB&NI at the World XC Championships in Australia, continued to mine her rich vein of recent form and struck gold with a relentless effort over two demanding laps. Hannah’s front running tactic brought her home in 25:09 for the 6.8k, more than 40 seconds clear of Natasha Phillips of Dundee Hawkhill, to lead team-mates Kate Paul and Kiara Meiklejohn to a splendid team bronze.
The injury and illness-hit U20 Men’s team delivered an outstanding performance regardless, with the flying Conan Harper nailing a hard-earned bronze (only our second-ever individual medal in this category) to lead Cameron Deverill, the just back from illness Reuben Macdonal and Innes McPherson to a notable team silver. Backing their team-mates up were Findlay Pryor and Lewis McGuire and we must commiserate with Cameron Green, who’s been enjoying a rewarding winter but had to miss the National through injury. Get well soon, Cameron.
Our Senior Women posted a fine team seventh over 10k.The irrepressible Yvonne McNairn was first back, in 33rd, well supported by Jill Smyllie, Allie Chong, Hilary Carswell, Nicola McBeath and Emily Crusher as team counters, and Sheila Lewis and Jacqueline Campbell also flying the flag for the club in a big field of over 300. Allie was second in the V50 category, Sheila third in V55s. Yvonne and Emily first ran the National for Giffnock as Under 13s – great to see athletes keeping on keeping on.
What might have been for our Senior Men? Before the race, GB&NI international and West District Champion Duncan Robinson called off with an injury. Then mid-race disaster struck Hamish Armitt, who has won two recent West League events. Powering along in a lead group featuring defending champion Jamie Crowe of Central, Hamish fell heavily and, dazed, couldn’t get going again. Ross Good battled through for an impressive 30th place (34:22 for 10k on the country), leading home Calum Young, Ali Stables, Ruairidh MacLean, Jordan Orr and Nicholas Boyle for team twelfth. That’s a solid placing for our Senior Men, with the prospect of even better.
Salute also Andrew Campbell, Oliver Traynor (I apologise for demanding two pieces of the home baking, it was irresistible as usual), Ben Shaw (another athlete who has run through the age groups for us, welcome back Ben), Cris Walsh, Ewan Wallace, Garry Sturgeon, Rob Crusher (I think you and Emily get the father and child prize, no?), Ricky Saez, Ian Millar (Preston North End will be proudya) and William McGuire. I’m delighted to say that Hamish is recovered and intends racing at the Scally Relays on 4th March. Go, Hamish!
When the dust settled, or the mud was mostly scraped off, we made our weary way home, knowing we’d raised our standard higher (still work to do, though) and contributed mightily once again to one of the great days of Scottish sport. Apologies to anyone whose name I have misspelled or missed out. Please note that I’ve used only first names in the younger age groups because of recommended protocols regarding children. But you know who you are!
Thanks go to the officials, sponsor Lindsays, Falkirk Cooncil, course setters, coaches, stewards, starters, volunteers, families, fans, whoever it is who repairs the daffodil shoots on the hill (oops), but most especially the First Aiders who were so good with our upset and injured athletes.
Oh, don’t forget Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius for his wondrous ditch. Porro! Una vincimus!
Report by Croy Thomson