Whilst many Haries are taking a break, grinding it out on them summer jobs or living that chill life, or the unlucky few revising again for resits (me 😢). There have been some Haries jetting off to perform elsewhere, cuz apparently there are better running locations in the world other than Edinburgh…?!? Shocked? Me too, however, I’m unshocked by how well they have done in their races although it was only Darko repping that glorious Haries Vest #loyal
The National cross country championships, or ‘The National’ is the culmination of the cross-country season in Scotland. For many of us in the Haries, it’s a huge goal both individually and as a team. For Max Milarvie it’s “the only race that actually matters”.
The morning of The National, the short shorts had been looked out, leg hair-and in my case, my great big bushy beard-had been shaved and the term ‘fired up’ had been massively overused.
In the U20 women’s race, to quote Ruaridh Mon Williams, “the girls couldn’t have done much better” and Ruaridh was absolutely correct. The three amigos, Anna Macfadyen, Naomi Lang and Laura Stark dominated in one of the most impressive team performances the Haries have probably ever produced. An assertive run from Anna saw her at the front of the race from the gun. She pulled away from Naomi going up the first real hill on the second lap and after that, a second National title was never in doubt.
Naomi looked strong throughout and did her best to catch Anna in the closing kilometres. She had what looked like an unassailable lead on Laura Stark. However, it was Laura that rounded the final corner in silver medal position. She must have had to turn herself inside out in the last kilometre to overhaul Naomi as evidenced by her spectacular facial expressions in the final straight. Hopefully they’re all still friends after their race.
Carolyn Cameron was racing in her first cross country race this year and did well to finish 17th in the 7.5k race after a string of 800m races indoors. Fresher Hannah Morrison was next up in 25th followed by two debutants at the Scottish Nationals, Polly Edwards and Lydia Blythe in 26th and 28th. Katie Hall was generously given a Saturday off by Run4it to race in her first Nationals since 2015. She finished 30th. Jennie Glass struggled with illness but huge respect for grinding it out and completing the longest cross country race of the season.
Inspired by the efforts of the U20 women, even Obama himself would fail to get the U20 men any more fired up. You should never overdramatise sport but with our shaven legs smoother than Thomas Otton on a night out; we were geared up for a real battle.
Alex Carcas went after his brother on the charge up the first hill. It was a valiant effort but sadly illness held Alex back from what would surely have been a high up finish. As the race wore on, Glasgow uni went backwards and The Hounds moved up. Myself, Alex and Max Milarvie all grouped closely together going up the penultimate hill. The three of us finished within 15 seconds of each other in 11th, 12th and 14th places respectively. Gregor Malcolm was a further 10 seconds off Max in his best-ever showing at Nationals, taking the scalps of all Scottish Triathlon Development squad athletes and nipping Connor Maclean, past winner at The National, on the line.
Álvaro Garrido, not too familiar with the Scottish mud had a very strong run in only his second race this academic year, to finish in 27th. Ruaridh Mon Williams, another non-native enjoyed his first Scottish Nationals and immediately afterwards was looking ahead to the road season where he hopes to crack 16mins in the 5k. Daniel Smith was also happy with his run and it was pleasing to see him out of his horrible PH vest. In the end, the boys in green with the cool bandanas took the second spot on the podium behind Glasgow University. We missed out by 6 points but couldn’t have hoped for better, all four of us finishing ahead of their last two counters. Nothing could have been done against their top two counters Sol Sweeney and Tristan Rees who completed a couple’s silver medal double with Laura Stark. To quote Katie Hall, “couple goals”.
Mhairi Maclennan had no need to be nervous before the Senior women’s race. She was undeniably the favourite after what has been a faultless cross country season. Steph Pennycook and Mhairi performed as promised with Steph bravely taking it out over the first lap. Mhairi reined her in over the second lap and from there she didn’t look back with a furious sprint to the line to take her first National cross country title. Steph stuck to the task extremely well and finished 11 seconds behind Mhairi to claim the silver medal. John Lees must be a happy man!
The senior women’s team repeated the success of Anna, Laura and Naomi; also gracing the top step of the podium with Amy Frankland, in a strong 30th place and Sophie Collins in her very last cross country as captain and as a Harie.
There was an increase from 8 Haries last year in the senior women’s race to 13 this year which was great to see. Everyone seemed to enjoy the drier conditions; everyone embraced the 10k of grind and there was certainly no Amy Bristow-esque moaning this year.
Iona Evans ended her cross-country career as a Harie with an outstanding run; finishing 42 places higher up than last year in 68th. Eliza Cottington cracked the top 100 on her senior debut along with Kirstin Bamford with Ciara Newell just missing out in 108th. We welcomed two new Americans to our ranks; Morgan Blevins who finished in a respectable 55th and Lauren Sallade who finished 127th.
Christine Irvine improved ten places on last years result, running what would be a decent 10k time on the road. Georgia Freeman Mills also ran well in her second cross country appearance this year. Linette Knudsen’s average weekly mileage of 5 miles didn’t stand her in good stead for this race but she fought bravely with only a few tears, describing the effort as tougher than the Copenhagen half marathon.
In the men’s race, the Haries failed to field a full team which was our only poor performance of the day. Not technically a Harie but a Fifer who goes to Edinburgh University, Logan Rees took 4th on his senior debut after a very dogged run. No medal but at least he got a nice picture of himself running alongside a dog. In the yellow and black, Euan Gilham’s run wasn’t quite as orgasmic as last year but fairly impressive nonetheless. 7th place in his first year as a senior is not to be sniffed at.
Jack Eykelbosch was first of the loyal Haries home in 72nd. Tim Morgan was 157th on his first visit to Callander Park and Ben Murphy 217th on his last cross country outing in those lovely green shorts. Québécois, Guillaume Picard Lalonde also did the Haries proud in his first Scottish National Championship. He was seen later on in the evening with plenty of energy left on the dancefloor of The Crème Cheese.
With several Haries moving on up from the U20 age group and if Logan and Euan can be persuaded, a ninth win in a row for the Central Team should hopefully be less certain at next years race.
The National was an appropriate end to a fantastic cross country season for the Haries. Perfection in the U20 women’s race; all the hype was worth it in the U20 men’s race and even more brilliance and superb swansongs in the women’s race. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the day was an appraisal of the Haries by Katie Cutforth’s Dad:
“a nicer bunch of young people it would be difficult to meet”
Onwards to the roads and the inevitable ice rink that will be KB5.
Preamble by Ruaridh Mon Williams:
Wow, what an experience! BUCS 2018 was an exciting, mud-splattering adventure with all the team demonstrating the inclusive (key), supportive spirit of the Haries with strong performances all round and a shot of fun and celebration to finish the night. It was moving to see the depth of talent amongst the team-green vests dotted throughout a stacked women’s race, Haries pushing up towards the front in the men’s A race and distributed in an eye canny (?) stream in the B race. There were screams of excitement as Edinburgh Hares as well as hounds, left right and centre fought off the other universities; battling to prove Edinburgh’s supremacy.
Yep, so the women’s race was pretty good. The matching green ribbons in the hair of the Haries indicating real team spirit. I suggested that all the men shave their legs prior to the race for a similar showing of unity but nobody seemed keen.
Mhairi Maclennan and Steph Pennycook made their presence felt at the pointy end, working well together during the early stages of the race. After her win at the North of
England cross country champs the previous weekend; Mhairi had big aspirations for BUCS. She ran strongly, just dropping off the front pack and finishing as first Scot in 7th. The 6.5k women’s course was slightly longer than Steph’s last outing over the 1k relay at Holyrood but she showed fine form to take 12th. Barring injury and illness, Mhairi and Steph will be an imperious duo at the National Cross in a couple of weeks’ time.
The big pre-BUCS debate on the six hour train journey to Uxbridge was who was going to be the third counter for the women, Naomi Lang or Anna Macfadyen? Both running their first BUCS, they took their (pool) cue from their elders Maclennan and Pennycook. They had a great battle with Anna edging closer to Naomi throughout the race. In the end it came down to just three seconds, with Naomi proving the most powerful up the long drag to the finish.
A Further fresher in the top 50 was Katie Lowery with Laura Stark only 8 seconds back.
Rebecca Johnson and Catriona Graves were well within the top 100, proving the strength in depth of our women’s team.
115th at last year’s race in Sheffield, Amy Frankland sneaked closer to a top 100 placing with 105th. Franko is on a definite upward trajectory and will almost certainly be in peak shape for Falkirk. BUCS debutants, Rhiannon Kirk and Rona Tyler performed admirably and will also be ones to watch in the U20 women’s race at Falkirk. Helen Jones improved on her race at Broxburn with a strong race, finishing 10 seconds behind Rona.
Louise Mccullagh looked like she was enjoying the river jump far too much on lap one whereas Katie Hall’s preferred course feature had to be the only notable hill on an otherwise flat course.
Packing well were the trio of Eliza Cottington, Jennie Glass and Iona Evans. The latter being lucky enough to share a hotel room with Captain Ben for the weekend. All three finished within 5 seconds of each other with Jennie just dipping Iona at the line.
This was only Lydia Blythe’s second appearance over cross country this year and her exponential return to form has been impressive to witness. Rosie Wright also looked comfortable bouncing through the muddy fields of Hillingdon.
Katie Cutforth’s first BUCS experience was filled with fun. Her race might have gone a bit better if she hadn’t paused to pose for photos at every opportunity. Carla Willars had an equally enjoyable run. The bright lights of Uxbridge are fairly close to home for Carla so we had to pleasure of her parents visiting the Haries tent too.
The girls from Kilmarnock, Christine Irvine and Eilidh Macquarrie were close for most of the race but Christine’s experience saw her stretch the eventual gap to 35 seconds. Eilidh enjoyed a BUCS birthday and was spurred around the course by the dulcit tones of myself and Ben Murphy, singing the happy birthday song.
After leaving her spikes on a Scotrail service and being forced to miss out on Broxburn, Rachel Stewart made her return to racing in this first weekend of February. She showed poise negotiating the water jump and it was pleasing to see her dish out a few elbows during her race. Linette Knudsen was less sure about the water jump, hesitating for a few minutes before diving in. She made up for this time loss with an inspired sprint finish.
The men’s A race was our most successful in recent years as Alex Leutchford usefully pointed out. The team finishing 6th out of 54 teams and predictably first out of the Scottish Universities.
Euan Gilham was our first counter in 33rd. A pleasurable weekend on the whole for Euan as he got to share a bed with Callum Symmons. They topped and tailed.
Jack Leitch was giddy with excitement after his race. He was 35th and a mere 4 seconds behind Gigamesh. Jacob Adkin put a restless night behind him to run a fine race, once again taking the scalp of Callum Symmons.
Whilst the men’s B team were warming up around the course, there were rumours circulating that Come Back Cal had pulled out. However, these seeds of doubt sown by Mr Jimmy Dunn didn’t come to fruition. Come Back Cal had finished, in a respectable 48th place nonetheless. I never doubted him for a second but seemingly 20 out of 35 people voting on an Instagram poll did…
Alex Carcas (58th) and Max Millarvie (105th) had self admittedly poor races due to illness but will be sure to bounce back in time for The National XC champs later in the month. Regardless of how well Max ran, he should get some credit for making such a strong A team in his first year at uni. And at least he enjoyed the night out…
The men’s B race features the leftover runners from British Universtities. The dregs at the bottom of your pre-race coffee. The Haries B team had some high-quality dregs and managed to finish 8th out of 116 teams.
Ewan Davidson enjoying a stellar season was resigned to the B race after a blip at Broxburn. An ‘epic sprint duel’ against myself was Ewan’s BUCS highlight. Stride for stride; searching for cracks in each other’s armour; arms flailing; gasping for breath, it was methat made it to the portaloo first. Eddie Narbett was first of the orienteering bunch home; only a handful of seconds behind portaloo pairing, Ewan Davidson and myself. Eddie raced incredibly strongly on his Haries debut to finish 31st.
The 8k race was a tad short for burgeoning ultra-runner Tim Morgan but he had an excellent race taking some big scalps. Andrew Johnstone was one of those big scalps. He was very active at the beginning of the race, mixing in with the big boys at the front. Andrew described the race as a grudge match between the Haries and orienteers. Ali Masson and Gregor Malcolm were less than satisfied with their respective races. At least Gregor looked the part with his funky shorts and the go faster haircut courtesy of Ali himself.
Tam Wilson had a commendable run in a rare cross country appearance. He was followed in by Ruaridh Mon Williams who sacrificed his characteristic ‘banter start’ for a more sensible and successful race. Jack Eykelbosch ran a very steady race, cannily making his way through the field on the second lap in his first race back from injury since April last year. Dan Smith is also recently returned from a debilitating injury. He had a good run but took even better pictures of the event.
Ben Murphy can’t have had much energy left after negotiating the London Underground and leading his troops to Uxbridge Travel Lodge the night before. He used his remaining energy to give a rousing battle cry on the startline which got us all fired up. Ben had a solid run and afterwards forked out £900 for our meal in the evening. Never was he more deserving of those captain’s shorts!
Darko Perovic made a famous comeback all the way from Sweden for this race and once again made the mistake of only bringing Hokas. Fortunately Come Back Cal was on hand to lend him his spikes. Thanks for coming Darko! Nicholas Rooms was another making his cross-country debut for the Haries at BUCS. No doubt given tips by roommate, Ruaridh Mon Williams, Nicholas delivered a substantial sprint-finish at the end of his race.
Not racing but watching from the water-jump, Mook made a welcome return to Haries action, providing some encouraging and motivational words to all the runners from all universities. What a hero.
Speaking of heroes, Thomas Otton recently tore the soleus muscle in both calves so was out of the running for an inevitable A team slot. Nevertheless, he still made the trip to Uxbridge-on his 20th birthday-to selflessly stand in the rain and play a supporting role.
As Ruaridh made clear in his introduction and as the results showed, we make a pretty fantastic team. Thanks for the fun weekend!
Full results from all races: http://dbmaxresults.co.uk/Results.aspx?CId=16421&RId=2206&EId=2
Link to Dan’s excellent Fickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/152478039@N03/sets/72157663349272367
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.
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.
This Saturday, I missed the fun part of these cross-country excursions which is meeting at Waverley and queuing for the ticket machines as a team.
I was in an exam hall until 11:30 debating whether I should go to Livingston instead of concentrating on the paper in front of me. The exam didn’t go too well so I thought I’d cheer myself up with some East District cross country action.
Arriving at the course behind Deans Community High school; I caught the tail end of the U20 women’s race and Naomi Lang striding down the hill to claim an East District bronze medal for Aberdeen. This still doesn’t make it ok to wear an Aberdeen vest. Jennie Glass was first counter for the Haries in 12th followed by Rhiannon Kirk and Carolyn Cameron in 14th and 16th respectively. It was so cold, Carolyn had to get her Dad to take the pins off her vest. Thanks for the pins by the way. Arianne Holland, our newly elected freshers rep was also running but disappointingly had to pull out due to illness. Disappointing as she’s in my fantasy league team.
When I arrived at the Haries tent, Oskar exclaimed that I was “a legend” for hopping on a train to Livingstone post exam. However, I was unworthy of such legendary status as I threw in the towel after just one lap. I was very much a loser.
In the same race, Alex Carcas dominated from the gun to take his second East District cross country title. Jack Leitch, touching cloth for the duration of the race finished in an impressive 4th despite the odds stacked up inside him. Oskar Fraser Krauss was third counter for the U20 men who took team gold on the day. Not satisfied with his race, Oskar and the rest of his team followed it up with a supplementary session. Solid effort ladz. In a rare cross-country appearance, orienteer Mathew Fellbaum took 16th in a stacked field.
The terrain was still solid with no churned-up mud in sight by the time the senior races came around. The firm ‘racing track’ seemed to suit the talents of Steph Pennycook as she took a convincing win-her first in the senior women’s category. 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 quote.
Sasha Chepelin suffering from no post exam trauma, scored me a healthy number of fantasy league points as he finished in 14th. His flatmate Ewan Davidson, on similar flying form grabbed a tantalising top 20 finish. A prominent showing from EUOC at these champs saw Alistair Masson and Tim Morgan both running strongly. The orienteers did well considering the course was more like a “road race” according to Sasha.
I discovered another of Captain Ben’s admirable traits at Livingston: He doesn’t give up like I do. I watched him jog over to the start line; in the holds of a cold, sounding as if he was about to breathe his final breath. He used the little oxygen he had left in his lungs to complete the three laps in sub-zero temperatures. Nice one Ben! Simon Mclaren continued to prove his worth on the individual league table and showed growing aptitude for cross country.
It’s worth mentioning 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. Crazy and inspirational stuff. Congrats.
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…
It’s been a long cold lonely winter. Lots of miles covered, lots of gym sessions in the bag… all in preparation for Liverpool, the European Cross Country Trials held in the iconic Sefton Park every November. Training eight days a week in order to toe the line in the form of your life, Great Britain vests in contention. The Harie contingent at this years’ race is impressive. International and club athletes alike will assemble on the banks of the Mersey in that stunning shade of green. They will come together, right now, all with different goals but the unity and spirit of the Haries behind them.
Starting with the boys, in the under 20 race we have Alex Carcas, donning a Scotland vest at this years’ trial off the back of his third place position at the National Short Course Championships. The real weight Alex is bearing on his shoulders isn’t the potential for a GB selection, but the imposing threat of his younger brother, Freddie, racing each other for the first time. Alex had better be on his toes as Freddie’s first semester training in Loughborough will see his arrival in Liverpool a statement to be feared. Get back to where you once belonged.
Braids 2017 certainly didn’t disappoint. The entire day, utterly spectacular. Faith in the running community didn’t once waver, as the determined hill lovers among us basked in the winter sunshine and left their all on the Braids Hills Golf Course. For a race that has been running annually for at least 15 years, both veterans and freshers assembled at King’s Buildings on that iconic November Saturday morning to get their hands on a number and equally as importantly, a ticket entitling them to dance the night away at the ceilidh. With less than 200 competing across both events in the first race in 2002, Saturday saw a considerable increase in the number of participants, with over 500 runners enjoying, embracing and exhausting themselves at the mercy of this picturesque golf course.
Buzzing – KB house filled with athletes fit to burst.
Raring to go – Warm ups completed, it was time to race.
All the spectators – keen to see who will come out on top.
Incline – putting fitness, tenacity and mental strength to the test.
Downhill – the final kilometre, an all-important sprint for the finish keeping the audience on their toes. Who is it flying through the trees?
Smiles – all round after crossing the line having given your all. Satisfied. What a run.
The excitement has been building. The competition growing all the more fierce with each day, getting closer to the pinnacle of the Haries racing calendar:
Saturday morning will see the arrival of Britain’s finest university running clubs and local club runners alike to take the Braids Hills Bridle Path by storm. For most Haries, a run round Braids is a crucial part of the week’s training – this race allowing the hill-lovers among us to flourish on a ‘proper’ cross country course, the altitude factor in abundance. Also, perhaps the wind factor, the mud factor and the ‘dig-deep’ factor. There’s something for everyone along the way, be it the rapid start, the incline, the technical descent…