Teviotdale Harriers had a very busy and exciting weekend to finish off their 2019/20 season writes Donna Inglis. Sandwiched between the annual Primary and High Schools Cross Country event in Wilton Park on Friday 6th, and the final race at Chirnside of the Borders Cross Country Series on Sunday 8th, Teviotdale held their last race of the season on Saturday 7th March, the Moor Cup race. This race was first held in 1894 and holds the honour of being the oldest cross-country race in Scotland. With many of us having enjoyed the dazzling sunshine and clear crisp conditions the day before, Saturday dawned disappointingly grey and drizzly up the Mair, with the wind increasing the closer it got to the start time. Conditions underfoot on the racecourse were soft on the bends and down the back straight there were plenty of puddles to contend with. The juniors would run first on their lap and a half course, following them would be the senior ladies, U15/17 girls & boys on their new race distance of 4 laps measuring 3 miles, the same distance as the senior men.
On the command ‘Get ready, Go’, the twenty one juniors started on the far side of the racecourse opposite the tower, followed a slight slope down through the water logged ground and round the sticky lower corner, to power against the strong winds up towards the tower, on completing their ‘half’ lap it was all systems go as the leaders pushed on to complete the full lap. Powering through from the very back was Irvine Welsh, chasing the pack amongst whom was his little brother MacLaren. MacLaren had run a strong and steady race as did Greg Watson who had taken the lead on the back straight, Greg gave his all to finish victorious in a time of 12:30, plucky MacLaren pushed on to take 2nd spot in 12:37 and the ever-determined Irvine took 3rd spot in 12.52. All times include handicaps. Fastest actual time was Irvine Welsh in 7.27 but there were also some gutsy performances from Taylor Watson, Glen Jamieson, James Wood and Alfie Walker making up the top 5 actual fastest times. It was just as dramatic in the girls race, Chloe Walker 2nd last off in the girls handicap flew around the course to take 1st place in 13.32, hot on her heels was training team mate Ruby Watson taking 2nd position in 13:37, as there had only been 5 seconds between them in the handicap, they both recorded fastest actual time for the girls in 10.17. Little Leah Lavery on only her second outing for harriers, took all the mud and puddles in her stride to finish 3rd in a time of 13:45. It was yet another race in very tough weather conditions so well done to all the juniors who turned out on the day, especially our newbies experiencing cross-country running for the first time and our p6 and p7 runners who had already competed the day before.
Next, it was time for the ladies and u15/17s to try out their new double distance. Eleven on the line, they took off one by one in handicap order, then after a couple of laps the ever improving Kirsty Hughes moved to the lead at the top bend, heading down the back straight Maisie Ballantyne flew swiftly through the group and was on Kirsty’s shoulder round the bend before taking the lead and powering on to finish 1st in 26:39, Kirsty crossed in 28:05 picking up not just a silver medal but also the Mary Hughes Memorial Salver, donated by the family in memory of her mother-in-law Mary Hughes, this is presented to first female over 40 in the competition. Keeping it in the family, daughter Ava Hughes took 3rd spot in 29.15. In the boys race Calum Renwick ran an absolutely fantastic race, starting at the back, he quietly and determinedly pushed and pushed his way forward to take the top spot in 26:12, Robbie Welsh continued to show his increasing confidence and form to take 2nd place in 26:24 and one of our most enthusiastic runners Langholm lad Robert Wood took the bronze spot in 27:41. All times include handicaps, fastest actual times went to Maisie Ballantyne 21:09 and Calum Renwick 19:32.
As the skies darkened even further and the wind continued to increase, the twelve men were called to the line where this year’s captain super, super-vet 86 year old Jim Pittillo was first to go, followed by Minto man Ron Hastings then President Alan Coltman, as the remaining 9 runners were called to leave in handicap order, Douglas Wood had a bit of a panic with a jacket zip malfunction which caused great hilarity for the others and probably an adrenalin rush for him, but thankfully he made it away on time. With all 12 away predictions were made amongst the spectators as to who would take the title. As the laps unfurled and the lead changed a couple of times, Derek Scott was soon spotted taking the lead, chased down by Alan Inglis and then Rory Anderson moving swiftly and confidently through the pack from his position of back marker. Coming up the final straight, tensions heightened as the 2 front runners came in to view, Derek with Rory on his shoulder, both continued to push on for the line and with just a few metres to go Rory stepped out and overtook Derek to take the crown. Rory’s arrival time 32:28, Derek 32:38 and Alan Inglis maintained his position to take not only 3rd place but also claim the first over 40 male in the competition, his time was 33:04, all times include handicaps, Rory fastest actual time in 18:28.
As if that was not enough excitement for the runners, a group headed down to Chirnside the following morning for the conclusion of the Borders Cross Country Series. Paul Lockie from Teviotdale Harriers had this message for all “Well Done to all our Teviotdale Harriers who took part in the Border Cross Country Series this season – great effort by all in a competitive field. Thanks to Chirnside for hosting today’s race and the annual end of season prize giving. Special mention to Ava Hughes who was 2nd girl in 12-13 years category, Iona Jamieson who was 1st girl 14-15 years category, and 1st girl overall. Pauline McAdam 3rd female vet 60, John Tullie 2nd male vet 60 and Rory Anderson 1st male overall from a host club.
The harriers will enjoy their Presentation Night and End of Season Celebration Bash on Friday 13th March. Next outings are the British Masters on Saturday 14th March and the National Road Relays on Saturday 21st March.