Always a highly anticipated race with Scottish Unis vests up for grabs and organised by our very own Jimmy Dunn. Dunn’s Craigmillar creation from last year provoked feelings of dread and so Glasgow uni decided to map out a considerably flatter course. In theory, Garscube park could be a lovely venue for a cross country race with some soft trails and suitably steep fields. Max Milarvie regularly runs here so he delighted in showing us all the possibilities on our cool down after the race. A race which utilised none of the lovely bits. Road crossings; a dusting of bark at an incorrect angle across the tarmac and a labyrinth of route choices were presumably put in place to thwart the Haries.
In the women’s race, there was a pleasing green swarm at the front of the race but with fewmarshals and a disappointing lack of tape no one was really sure when to leave the rugby pitch!
Beth Hanson took charge up the first hill and was soon joined by Laura Stark. A thrilling battle then ensued with the lead changing hands several times over the two laps. Laura came out strongest with a powerful surge in the closing kilometres to take the Scottish Unis title in only her first year at uni.
Amy Frankland completed the winning team, finally getting her hands on a gold team medal and helping to continue Edinburgh unis unbeaten streak in the women’s race. James Dunn shirked his duties as Scottish Student Sports co-ordinator* to cheer Soph Collins as she finished 6th, guaranteeing herself a Scottish Unis vest. Rebecca Johnstone will also be representing the Scottish unis team at Holyrood in January as she finished 8th.
I might try and get the Herbivore kitchen to sponsor the club as they seem to be fuelling our athletes fairly well with regulars Jennie Glass, Katie Hall and Eilidh Macquarrie all putting in inspired performances. There was a tight grouping of Haries all vying for a spot in the top 20. Helen Jones and Sarah Douglas finished within seconds of one another in 17th and 18th places respectively. There were also impressive showings from freshers Louise Mccullagh, Lucy Haines and Rona Tyler. With most of the ‘John Lees Elite’ absent, the harie women still dominated, comprising 25% of the 65 runners on the start line. Linette Knudsen wasn’t hugely pleased with her race but she did win the unofficial ‘first Dane’ prize.
With Glasgow fielding the strongest men’s field in years, we had a tough job on our hands to retain the men’s title. However, not even a rogue litter bin could stop us today. We were fired up and we were ready to go.
Legs freshly shaven, Callum Symmons sprang to the front alongside Alexander Chepelin and Will Peppercorn. Elbows freshly sharpened, Ruaridh Mon Williams swiftly joined them exhibiting true tactical nous.
The first lap of the race was described by Come Back Cal as “the most fun he’s ever had in his cross-country career” with people making moves left right and centre. Sasha made one that stuck and stormed to third place. An amazing result in such a high-quality field.
Callum finished one place behind-a performance that was truly deserving of the record number of likes the Come Back Cal’s post-race instagram received. Euan Gilham’s race was ‘just a tempo’ but he still bagged himself a Scottish Unis vest with 7th place. Alex Carcas who finished 8th and 2nd U20 will also be joining him in the team. Jacob Adkin showed that he was deserving of every one of those ninety fantasy league pounds with a commendable top 10 on his 2017 cross country debut.
There was a good race for the final few places in the top 20 with Max Milarvie narrowly beating Jack Leitch who recovered from a spectacular fall to edge out Ewan Davidson. Nicholas Allen and Thomas Otton both cruised past me in the latter stages of the race to take 20th and 21st place respectively.
There were a host of Harie faces at Garscube including orienteer Mathew Felbaum; Álvaro Garrido; Garret Jones and Owen Hayes who was doing the classic ‘just a tempo’ before his first marathon in Athens the following week. Captain Ben was pleased with another solid cross country performance and Darko Perovic was sporting a fresh pair of Salomons with an ingenious lace garage. Wonder who sold him those?
Yes, Scottish Unis was definitely worth taking a Sunday off for…