Harriers Seek Adventure At The Muckle Toon

Hugh McDiarmid, Thomas Telford and Neil Armstrong, three names synonymous with the scenic Dumfries town of Langholm.  Add one more to the list…MTAF.

The Muckle Toon Adventure Festival (MTAF) came into being, as many great ideas do, over a couple of pints in the local pub. The committee was formed in July 2012 and consists of a small but enthusiastic number of young folk, happy to get out in the hills and plan one of the most exhilarating events in Scotland.

Teviotdale Harriers enjoy a strong connection with our near and dear neighbours at Langholm.  With many youngsters and their obliging parents making the journey north up the A7 to Hawick every week to train or compete in the maroon and white vest.

The weekend 17th-19th June, saw many from Hawick and also our Langholm comrades turn out to compete and support the ‘Muckle Toon’ as they staged their annual Adventure Festival.

Upon arrival you might be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled across one of the many such like events you see all summer in the Lake District but no, this event offered something a little more…Dumfries and Galloway hospitality.

The unique Muckle Toon warmth, combined with organisation and effort gave competitors and visitors the chance to take part in or watch a weekend that absolutely catered for everyone.

Camping, mountain biking, road cycling, trail running, guided walks, talks, pump track and climbing wall only scratch the surface of all that occurred during this impeccable weekend.

The Harriers were well represented across the many trail running events on offer during the three day extravaganza and achieved some success in the process.

For Saturday runners, the 10k and Half Marathon start on mass and head along the high street & up the Kirk Wynd, serenaded by the pipe band.  The 10k then breaks away whilst the half continues straight to the top and are then cut loose among the hills.

10k runners from Teviotdale included adept hill and trail runner John Tullie and two local girls, Lucy Ash and Macy Cropper.  John finished 6th (47:08), Lucy placed 32nd (58:22) with Macy not far behind finishing 34th (58:37).  Lucy also scooped 2nd local female with Macy 3rd.

Half Marathon competitors included six Harriers and they were led home by Iain Williams.  Flourishing distance runner Iain completed the course in 1:37:39, and described the run as: “A good event…but tough going.”

Also competing were Club Secretary and current Men’s Captain Paul Lockie, Ladies Captain Ann Aitken, former Langholm resident Pam Paxton, Orienteering legend Pauline McAdam and relative Harriers newcomer Frank Birch.

Following Iain, Paul was second to cross the line for Teviotdale (2:19:06).  Pauline soon found her way home next (2:30:35) with Ann completing the ‘Half’ in (2:39:26).  Pam, running side-by-side with ‘Muckle Toon Jogger’ and Lucy’s mum Kirsty Ash finished in (2:41:00).  Frank, who continues to belie his years, completed the Harriers sextuplet in (2:53:16).

Conan Harper strides home for third
Conan Harper strides home for third

It was on the Sunday that Teviotdale Harriers really left their mark during the 5k.  With a field of 130 adults and children, we were wonderfully represented by five youthful but exuberant runners and every one of them done the vest proud.

Conan Harper (18:24) aged 11 and Iona Jamieson (21:25) aged 10, particually gave a great account of themselves.  Robert Wood (21:36) aged 10, Bethany Harper (30:22) aged 9 and Glen Jamieson (26:04) aged 7, all raced with a smile on their face and tackled the MTAF 5k with purpose and positivity.

Conan, who joined the Harriers last September smashed nearly four minutes of his previous MTAF 5k time, Conan finished an incredible 3rd.  The youngster battled on bravely, fighting for 2nd but was eased out by 16 year old Lewis Bell, who finished 2 seconds quicker.  Amongst so many adults and competitive juniors, Conan must be ecstatic about his performance.

His understandably elated mum Shelley spoke after the race and summed up her thoughts behind Conan’s impressive run:

“I just want to say a very big thank you to all of the adult volunteers at the Harriers that give up their time and effort to coach the kids, you all do an amazing job.  Conan was proud to wear his Harriers vest.

“We didn’t think he could keep up the pace with the older guys but he proved us wrong.”

Conan’s dad Brian also paid tribute to the work of the Harriers Wednesday night sessions: “Truly proud of our little man.  Great coaches and volunteers supporting the kids to bring out the best in them.  That’s all you could ask for.  Thank you for supporting and encouraging Conan and all the other kids.”

One of Teviotdales Coaches, Alex Corbett responded by saying: “Training is so much more enjoyable when you have great kids like Conan turning up every week.”

Alex was also quick to point out that the kids can’t do it alone: “Well done to you (the parents) for all the support you give him.”

Iona, at only 10 years of age, finished first female runner overall, which is obviously a superb achievement for someone so young.  Iona recently joined the Harriers and is already making huge strides, demolishing her previous MTAF 5k best by over 2 minutes.

All in all it was a highly successful weekend for both the organisers and the runners who represented our club.