Almost as soon as the Haries arrived in Livingston, the girls race was off. Minimal warm up and preparation time all round due to a ScotRail faux pas didn’t dishearten the lively spirits ready to face 2 gruelling laps, surmounting to a total of 6.4km. Final tweaks were being made for the latter stages of the season and peak form was well and truly in abundance.
The gun sounded and the Harie girls were soon to make an impact on the top pack. Polly Edwards set her positon out well from the start, proving that her training is paying dividends. Not showing any sign of tiring, she finished in a staggering 11th position, giving the girls a promising start towards the team prize. Second Harie home, and third junior overall in 21st position was Emma Gill: a fresher who makes a decent effort in sharing Harie success with the wider world. Next back was Fay Walsh placing 24th and holding on to the prestige of the EUOC name with a storming run.
Josephine Edmunds finished strong in 32nd and hot on her heels was Rosina Graham in 36th. Making a quick come back from my year abroad, I was next over the line, almost forgetting how tough Scottish cross country can be. Saturday saw a strong outing of EUOC girls which was O-so-wonderful to see, with Roanne Lilley next into the finish in 63rd. Arianne Holland followed swiftly after in 68th claiming at the start “I don’t even run cross country!” Well done Arianne, you did the mountain goats proud in your hill shoes with such a great run. Next in we saw Louise Adams, yet another orienteer proving that EUOC and the Haries mix pretty well. This week we saw her take to the cross country with grit and determination, while her other half took passionately to orienteering, proving that ‘meeting the mates’ in each of their respective disciplines isn’t the worst part of a budding new ‘friendship.’
All this team spirit and tenacity will only hold the Haries in good stead for the up and coming ‘big boys’ of the cross country season, namely: BUCS and The National. The girls team placed 5th overall in the East District League, where with this race being anything to go by, and some extra support from the rest of the team, the Haries might be able to give Loughborough and Birmingham a run for their money in a few weeks’ time. Well done to everyone that participated, the Haries never looked so good.
Special shout out to Maddy Austin for taking on the role of no.1 cheerleader.
For the men, not only was the race in Livingston the all-important selection race for the BUCS A team but it was also the first time since 1968 that the Harie men have had a shot at winning the East District Cross Country League. With an almost unassailable lead over Central, who have won the men’s competition for the past six years, all we needed to do was turn up. And turn up we did – despite Scotrail’s best efforts – with a 21 strong men’s team, bigger and better than any team we’ve taken to an East League before. All the boys showed up, with the exception of Euan Gilham who doesn’t need to run selection races and Logan Rees who would probably run for Fife anyway. Mathew Dailey, was also missing from the action after appearances at the first two East League races.
This historic League decider was ignited with a questionable attack from veteran Harie Patryk Gierjatowicz. However, it became clear within the first fifty metres that this was just an elaborate ruse to set Max Milarvie up for a commanding counter attack- up the first hill and onto the forest trails. When the boys emerged from the trees on the first lap, it was clear that the Green Machine was operational once again. The Haries were running this show and there was very little that the smattering of Central vests could do about it.
Sasha Chepelin was out in front with HBT’s Scott Fraser and Fife AC’s Kevin Wood for company. Not far behind, hounds Alex Carcas; Max Milarvie; Jack Leitch and Elisha De Mello were baying for blood. Alex Muir stuck to the task behind, running a largely solo race with Oskar Fraser Krauss and Gregor Malcolm already beginning to slip backwards.
Over the three laps, Sasha fought off the challenge from Kevin Wood and powered down the hill on the final lap to try and catch Scott Fraser. In the end, he had to settle for second place once more after coming runner up to Mike Christoforou at Broxburn. On the eve of his 21st, Alex Carcas was the next Harie home, taking 4th and slotting into the second spot in the BUCS A team. Mark Pollard’s disciples, Jack Leitch and Max Milarvie had a friendly tussle throughout the race but it was Jack that came out on top by just two seconds after coming past Max in a thrilling downhill finale. A resurgent Elisha De Mello made it 4 in the top 10 whilst Alex Muir rounded out the scoring team in 12th. After being instrumental in the team’s success at Scottish Unis and the East League this year; we’ll miss Alex’s cross country pedigree at BUCS as he focusses on Southern cross country Champs and at The English Nationals later in February.
After a quiet first semester, Callum Tharme, a fresher on the rise, finished 18th. A performance that will mark him out as one to watch come Falkirk in February. Orienteers Max Bloor and Tam Wilson stuck together for much of the race and only four seconds separated them in the end. They struggled to shake the majestic Jack Eykelbosch who made an impressive return to the XC scene, taking some notable scalps in the process. One such scalp was Andrew Johnstone -Louise Adams’ aforementioned other half – who finished 30th. Oskar Fraser Krauss had un jour sans and was pipped at the line by young Fifer, Craig Morris. Formerly training partners at Fife AC, Oskar was once revered by Craig as the pinnacle of athletic prowess but it apears as if the tables have turned. OFK went off in a sulk post-race. Some eyewitnesses said tears were shed but he was buoyed by the fact that the first Harie counter in last year’s BUCS B race also had a shocker at the third and final East League.
For Gregor Malcolm too, “it was a good day to die hard” but our captain does deserve some credit for captaining his team to their first East League title for over half a century. Gregor just managed to hold off Tom Lines and triathlete Nick Allen whose parents gave him a lift over from Edinburgh.
Pat Gie faded somewhat after an early showing of intent but will hopefully return to peak form just in time for BUCS after a six-year hiatus. Fellow marathon runner Ollie Teenan made a rare cross country appearance as part of his preparations for the Manchester Marathon in April whilst Alex Bell continued to shine in his first season of Scottish cross country.
Carcas’s pal Chris Robinson ran strongly on his debut for the Haries but was narrowly beaten by Dan Smith who was back racing for the first time since The National last year. I can’t decide what’s more sickening though-the vest he decided to race in or his HOTW interview with “Josie”. Good effort though Dan x
Resident Cypriot Konstantinos Kapardis rounded off the most competitive men’s team we’ve ever fielded at an East League.
It was our lowest aggregate team score of our three dominating wins this season and the lowest winning team score there’s been for a long time. It was the kind of emphatic victory we’ve come to expect from the girls in recent seasons and if we can continue this form for the next couple of weeks, BUCS is going to be a pretty successful weekend.