National Short Course XC Championships

Written by Alex Luetchford

After a brief tarmac-based respite last week at the Allan Scally Road Relays, this Saturday saw the Haries’ cross country season continue – although this was possibly the least ‘cross country’ cross country course yet. The National Short Course XC Championships took place around some pancake flat rugby pitches that were relatively firm underfoot. It almost made Manchester Relays seems exciting (at least that has a very slight hill).

However, running 4km in these conditions meant the race was blisteringly fast and very competitive, with much of the race consisting of jostling for position with thick packs of runner. The Hare and Hounds performed admirably with some excellent results. Amazingly, the same was true of our club tent which, despite missing a pole, held itself together in the strong winds. As such, the race tested both the Haries’ speed and DofE skills – and we succeeded in both.

The women were off first, and the race was made even more exciting by the presence of Olympian Laura Muir. Our own Steph Pennycook came a very impressive 5th place in a time of 14:13. followed up by Catriona Graves in 14:59 (23rd). Eve MacKinnon and Sarah Douglas completed the women’s A team, running 15:41 and 15:55 respectively. Their collective efforts meant the Haries women were the 5th team overall. Needless to say, Muir dominated the field, but after the huge 40 second gap she created, the rest of the race was much closer.

The rest of the women also ran well. Rhiannon Kirk ran 16:29, joined by Lydia Blythe in 16:55, Rosie Wright in 17:47, and Christine Irvine in 18:14. Next was Lise Theron (18:33), Katie Hall (19:11), and Georgia Freeman-Mills (19:22). Rachel Stewart  finished in 21:35, looking sassy as always.*

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With over 360 runners on the start line, the Men’s race was was densely packed and very competitive. Much of the race was spent fighting through crowds In an exciting battle for first place, ex-Harie Captain Ben Stevenson powered through to win gold, in 12:05! Scott Stirling came through just 14 seconds later in 5th place. He was closely followed by Mike Christoforou (gone but never forgotten) in 12:27, wearing white vest that looked suspiciously like it belonged to an Edinburgh AC athlete. Also running in non-green vests (grrrrr…) were Logan Rees and Euan Gillham, who were 3rd and 4th U20, and each ran 12:33 and 12:37 respectively. The second Harie to cross the line in the correct vest was Andrew Lawler, in 12:55. Callum Symmons came in swiftly after, in 13:00 dead, and Alexander Chepelin completed our Men’s A team in 13:04, meaning that the men placed 4th overall! The Harie lads continued to finish thick and fast, with Alex Carcas (13:12), Cameron Young (13:15), Ewan Davidson (13:21) and Jack Leitch (13:26) all running exceptionally. Myself and Ben Remnant rounded off the men by each running 14:09 and 14:31. Sadly Tom Otton had to drop out mid-race due to back pain – get well soon!

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All-in-all it was a solid racing performance from the Haries. Although there was a disappointing lack of medals, Tesco has roast chicken from the hot deli reduced to £1, as well as 40 donuts for the same price – so I think it’s fair to say everyone in the minibus left feeling content. Tip-top running from everyone!

*But not as sassy as I did wearing her vest – the continuing vest-shortage saga meant that an unorthodox vest-swap had to take place as soon as she crossed the line, and I sprinted over to the Men’s start feeling tight for both time and lung capacity.