The first semester has seen some amazing performances from the Haries over hill and dale. We’ve missed the talents of Scott Stirling and Jimmy gone and Dunn it but Linette came back and the new starts have been fresher than ever; bringing us smiles and National titles. There a few though that still choose to race for their home clubs yet somehow think it’s ok to hang out in our tent. I don’t want to see any Fife, VP, Aberdeen or Kilbarchan vests crossing the threshold next semester. It’s not a cool thing to do.
Some hip Americans came to stay with us for a bit and a Serbian pal who loves a selfie. The racing has been as cut throat as ever with new factions formed and fantasy league points at stake. Some races have even been worth getting fired from your job for.
A few Haries kicked things off in early September with the Stirling 10k. Logan Rees came out of his summer hibernation, taking second place behind professional triathlete Grant Sheldon. Rachel Stewart smashed her 10k pb; with Stirling acting as a warm up for a sickening half marathon debut in October.
The Scottish cross country season started in earnest with the East District cross country relays. The women’s squad had been strengthened with a plethora of speedy freshers and so it proved at Glamis with fresher Anna Macfadyen helping the women’s A team to Gold. The male freshers were not to be outdone. First spotted at the Pollock relays by Rachel Stewart and described by Jimmy Dunn as having the speed of Scott Stirling and the sculpted torso of Elisha De Mello. He took everyone by surprise at the relays where he won the first leg. He hasn’t completed a race since but hopefully will make a comeback on the roads this spring. A spring back you might say. Peppercorn’s relay team finished in an eventual 5th place.
The same weekend, 17 intrepid hill runners were driven to Wales by Jacob for the British Fell Relay Championships. The Haries fielded 3 teams at the event which involved a mixture of distances and difficulties of navigation. An impressive men’s A team brought back the silver medal. For perspective, the club’s previous best result at this event was 6th 10 years ago!
The girls also ran well with Beth Hanson running the fastest women’s time of the day for leg 1 ahead of multiple British and English fell running champion Victoria Wilkinson. How do you like them apples?
Lucy Haines; Rhiannon Kirk and Katie Lowery impressed a couple of weeks later at the National cross country relays. Katie ran a blisteringly quick third leg for the women’s B team, passing over to Amy Frankland who finished it off in her usual assured style. The women’s A team comprised of Mhairi Maclennan, Rebecca Johnstone, Anna Macfadyen and Steph Pennycook took a historic second win in a row at the event, topping Central AC by almost forty seconds.
The men’s A team of Thomas Otton; Sasha Chepelin, Alex Carcas and myself finished 6th.
In a pairing with Daniel Smith, Cameron Scott made his first ever cross country appearance and it didn’t seem to put him off. He improved throughout the semester even with his final year dissertation holding him back.
My favourite race in semester one was the East league cross country at Stirling because of how many new faces there were in the Haries tent and how densely packed the Haries men were during the race. Beth Hanson lead home a string of Harie ladies including Kirstin Bamford, Holly Morrison, Arianne Holland and Katie Cutforth.
VP loyal Max Milarvie made his Hare and Hounds debut along with his Fraser Court friend Oskar Fraser Krauss. Max and Oskar first met behind the bike shed of Fraser Court and the rest as they say, is history. Fresher Daniel Smith and master of maths, Simon Mclaren both made their cross-country debut for Haries at Stirling putting in good performances over the deceptively hilly and sinuous course.
Despite the hype about Glasgow University Hare and Hounds being stronger than ever, we retained both the men’s and women’s titles at the Scottish Universities cross country Champs in Garscube on 5th November. Laura Stark won a closely fought battle with Beth Hanson to become Scottish Unis cross country champion in only her first year.
Sasha Chepelin took bronze with a hugely powerful performance in such a stacked field and Come Back Cal demonstrated just why the eponymously named Instagram account was justified with a heroic 4th place. He said afterwards that it came close to the heady heights he achieved at Nationals 2016. Jacob Adkin had an equally strong cross country comeback, finishing in 8th place and earning his first Scottish Unis vest. It’s worth mentioning the man from West Palm Beach, Owen Hayes who ran this tough course only the week before his marathon in Athens which he went on to complete in 3:13.
The same weekend, defending universities cross country champ Logan Rees hopped on the bus down to Leeds for the Abbey Dash 10k. In his first appearance for Scotland on the road; Logan finished 6th in a time of 29:28, the fourth fastest time by a Scot in 2017. It’s been pointed out to me several times that Logan’s 10k pace is the same as my 1500 pace.
In the same race, Mhairi Maclennan ran 33:55-the fifth fastest time run by a Scottish woman in 2017!
The short course cross country champs were up next over a fast and fun circuit in Kircaldy. Hometown hero, Steph Pennycook finished less than a minute behind Olympian
Laura Muir and was followed by Anna Macfadyen in 4th who took the U20 title. The quartet of Steph, Anna, Laura Stark and Katie Lowery won team gold. Alex Carcas was first home in the men’s race, justifying him a place in the Scotland team for Liverpool and a nice bronze medal in the U20s competition. There was an exciting battle between flatmates Paul Morrison and Andrew Johnstone with Andrew delighted to come out on top.
Then back home for Braids on 18th November- as deputy head of the marshals, it was fantastic to see a huge turnout of Haries in both races. Capitain Ben Murphy made his Braids debut along with Euan Gilham who took the race on from the gun. Emily Payne came back from Bologna especially.
The Liverpool cross challenge was successful for a number of Haries; in particular, Mhairi Maclennan who was 4th U23 and with it claimed an automatic qualifying place in the GB team for the European Cross Country Championships. Alex Carcas ran well but was disappointingly beaten by his younger brother. Sasha cracked the top 100 in the senior race and Lydia Blythe packed in as many Beatles references as she could into an excellent race preview.
Colds, injuries and exams decimated our squad at the East District cross country championships, resulting in several drop outs. Despite the loss of fresher’s rep Arianne Holland, Jennie Glass, Carolyn Cameron and Rhiannon Kirk rallied for a fine fourth in the team competition of the U20 race. In the U20 men’s race, Alex Carcas won by a significant margin; his second individual gold medal at the East District cross country championships. His orienteering friend Jack Leitch finished just outside the medals in 4th despite needing the toilet for most of the race. Oskar Fraser Krauss was an ecstatic third counter in the winning team and Mathew Felbaum ran well in only his second cross country appearance of the season.
In the women’s race Steph Pennycook took a convincing win-her first in the senior women’s category. Captain Sophie Collins was next Harie home in 14th. Eliza Cottington, Kirstin Bamford, Alexandra Morgan and Eilidh Macquarrie all enjoyed their race while Christine Irvine, known for her aptitude with puns, commented that it was “hard for several reasons”. Not quite the witty retort I was hoping for when I asked the pun queen herself for a post-race quote. Sasha Chepelin suffered from no post exam trauma as he finished in 14th. His flatmate Ewan Davidson, on similar flying form grabbed a top 20 finish. A prominent showing from EUOC at these champs saw Alistair Masson and Tim Morgan both running strongly.
Even though Captain Ben sounded as if he was about to breathe his last breath as he headed towards the start line, admirably he did not give up and completed the race in sub-zero temperatures. Simon Mclaren continued to prove his worth on the individual fantasy league table and showed growing aptitude for cross country.
Last but not least, Mhairi Maclennan’s amazing run in more foreign but no less chilly Samorin In Bulgaria at the Euro Cross. Mhairi on her debut for the GB team won a gold team medal in the U23 race. Congrats.
The second semester will surely be even more exciting and successful than the last with BUCS XC and Isle of Man to look forward to. Word on the street is that Elisha De Mello will make a return just in time for Broxburn XC…
My New Year’s resolution is to be more on it with race reports in semester deux.
The first big event of 2018 takes place close to home. The ‘killing fields’ of Holyrood Park will host the Great Edinburgh Cross country event, next weekend on 13th January where there will be a large Haries presence. Good luck to those running for the Scottish Unis team; Team East; Team West; Team North; Mhairi for GB and the plastic bag wearing marshals around the course.