The national cross country relays-one for the big hitters. Even world championship athlete, Jake Wightman made an appearance. He was a bit of an embarrassment though and looked a bit on the chubby side. Andrew Lawler and his friends Elisha De Mello and Michael Christoforou Kangaroo also turned up. It was a nice treat to see them.
Camaraderie within the team was high and it was great to see a mixture of experienced campaigners as well as a fresh batch of Haries in attendance. It was evident that the team was bursting with freshers as it took nearly twenty minutes and nearly twice as many people than normal to put up the tent.
Mhairi Maclennan, Lucy Haines, Rhiannon Kirk and Christine Irvine were first out into the Colosseum of Cumbernauld. The soup bowl nature of the course allowed spectators to see runners from various vantage points during the race. Mhairi took the brunt of the wind as she led the front group, handing over to Rebecca Johnstone in first place. Rhiannon ran strongly to cement her team in the top 30 and Lucy Haines, a fresher running her debut XC for the Haries finished close behind in 34th. Christine Irvine made a deliberate effort to smile for the camera. She was looking far too happy on the windy, sloggy, hilly section of the course.
The pressure was on for Rebecca Johnstone in her first race for the Haries but she held firm to the team’s podium place, only being passed by an Aberdeen athlete and Central’s Morag Mcclarty, who took the fastest leg of the day by a significant margin. Rona Tyler had a hugely impressive run, improving the teams placing by 8 positions. Lydia Blythe, just back from Copenhagen made her (Den)MARK on the course, the scene of her Scottish cross country debut the year previously.
Linette Knudsen offered up a middle finger when I asked how her race went but she did run well considering there are few muddy hills in Copenhagen.
Onto the third leg where the big gains were made. Anna Macfadyen took the team into silver medal position with the 6th fastest leg. Fun fact/statistic: Individual leg times aside, Anna has not lost a race since joining the Haries. Katie Lowery had perhaps the performance of the day; taking her team from 21st to 9th and Louise Mccullagh must have similarly felt like Pac-man as she overtook 12 runners, rocketing her team up to 25th. Rachel Stewart-who did a stellar job of organising transport and race entries-made her parents proud by overtaking a further four runners. Nice one third leggers!
Steph Pennycook, with the second fastest time of the day sealed the deal for an incredibly strong women’s A team as they won the national title for the second year in a row! Ex-Captain Amy Frankland altruistically gave up her spot in the A-team and produced a classy run to clinch a top 10 placing for her team. Kirstin Bamford improved her teams placing, finishing in 21st and Katie Cutforth completed the ‘Dream Team’ with an anchor leg that her father (renowned Parkrun blogger, Chris Cutforth) would have been proud of. (http://ccutforth.blogspot.co.uk/)
Daniel Smith and I were on first leg duties for the men. Daniel flew off up the first hill and was later heard complaining that he expected the pace to be ‘hotter’. I had a fun battle with Mr Battle and ended up in 15th. Daniel got his two-man team off to a good start with 40th.
I passed the metaphorical baton to fan favourite, Thomas Otton who coasted round the course, moving us up to 13th. Cameron Scott’s second leg was his first taste of Scottish cross country. He was completely undeterred by the mud and afterwards was extremely motivated to improve over the rest of the season.
The final two places in the men’s A team were occupied by the finest orienteers in Scotland, possibly Britain and maybe even the world. It was of course Alexander Chepelin and Alex Carcas. Alexander, (Sasha for short?) started his cross season nicely moving us up to 8th. Alex went nine seconds faster than Sasha, putting in an inspired performance to keep Logan Rees at bay and take the team up to a fantastic 6th place.
A cross country event with the Haries wouldn’t be complete with some lovely post-race snacks. Franko topped off a top day at Cumbernauld with some cool coconut and mango cake. Sweet!
N.B. Haries who choose to run for their home club will no longer get the privilege of being mentioned or having their name highlighted with bold lettering. If it were up to me, you wouldn’t be included in the fantasy league either… (Logan Rees, Laura Stark, Naomi Lang)