I’m not a big fan of the Inter districts cross country at Holyrood. The pace is always infernal, there’s always a massive crowd to witness my inevitable capitulation and last year I won the Lanterne Rouge award. One thing that is enjoyable is to have Harie friends at all points on the course shouting encouragement and commenting on how my legs share a striking resemblance to those of a giraffe. Thank you to all the Haries who had to stand in the same spot for several hours. You made it bearable.
This year, both the men’s and women’s Scottish Universities teams were jam packed with talent after a tough selection race at the Scottish Universities Championships in November.
In the women’s race, the 11 strong Scottish Universities team was comprised of no less than six runners from Edinburgh University; a demonstration of our dominance in Scottish academia. Katie Lowery was also competing for the North of England team.
After her win the previous week at the Scottish 3k championships, Naomi Lang made the transition from the indoor track to cross country look seamless, as first Harie home in 22nd. Amy Frankland was 26th, a commendable comeback after a long layoff with shin splints. Haries followed Amy in quick succession. Catriona Graves only a few seconds back; Rebecca Johnson in 31st on her debut at this race with Katie Lowery right behind her in 32nd. Scottish Universities champion, Laura Stark ground it out despite suffering from illness over the yuletide period. Sophie Collins was similarly satisfied to make it round given a winter of illness and injury.
The men’s universities team was again a Harie majority. He wasn’t in green but it was nice to see Logan Rees out of a Fife vest as first student home and only bettered by Kristian Jones and Lachlan Oates, two of the strongest cross country runners in Scotland.
Euan Gillham was as strong as ever over the mud of Holyrood as second counter for the Scottish students and placing in the top 10. Although beaten by two North of England boys, Alex Carcas cemented his status as one to watch at Falkirk, as first Scottish U20. Jacob Adkin put in a powerful performance on the final hill and finished only one second behind Alex. His flatmate Ewan Davidson produced yet another great run on his debut at Holyrood, he finished 44th. Callum Symmons was also in amongst the action. For a bit. He gave up after 1k because he couldn’t be bothered.
Outwith the inter-district races; we had two of our best athletes running in the international races. Steph Pennycook ran a solid second leg in the 1k relay for the Scotland A team and Mhairi Maclennan donned the GB vest for the second time, finishing 21st in an extremely tight senior women’s race.
With Edinburgh City Council cutting funding for this event, this was potentially the last time that we see an international cross country at Holyrood. Although my legs don’t get on well with the course at Holyrood, overall I think it’s one of the best sporting events that Scotland has to offer. Without the excitement and jazzy vibes that the international races provide, the inter-district event would just be a bit bland; the road crossing might not even be closed off to cars-which would admittedly make things a bit more interesting-and Chris Derrick would certainly not be there to give me any more of his clothes.