Stirling University played host to the first East District Cross Country League Race of the season on Saturday and 12 Harriers made the trip for Teviotdale.
It proved to be a worthwhile journey for the determined dozen with some great runs and the added bonus of photos with an Olympian. In which other sport can your average club competitor get the chance to race alongside Olympic athletes?
The technical route took runners through many twists and turns, ups and downs and trails and tracks that skirted the Stirling University golf course.
With nine races and 783 runners in total, the wet weather synonymous with cross country running season, left athletes with an ever deteriorating course but failed to dampen any spirits.
First up and proudly sporting her Harriers vest was Ava Hughes in the under 11 girl’s (1550m). Ava (6:53) ran a hugely determined race and finished 26th showing great improvement from last year.
Next to run and grinning from the start was Boyd Hughes in the under 11 boys (1550m). Boyd (7:05) arrived at the climb to the line, replaced the grin with grit and earned a few more places to finish 74th.
A smiling Nadine Elder was next on the start line in the under 13 girls (2400m). Nadine (13:13) ran well, give it her all and pushed hard through the tricky final section to 38th position.
The third Hughes sibling, Harrison, stepped forward for the under 13 boys (2400m). An honest 65th position was the result after a reliable and steady run from Harrison (13:15).
As the weather worsened, saturated numbers fluttered from vests like the autumnal trees shedding their leaves, the scene was set for the Senior/U20 Women’s race (6000m).
Swiftly making their way to the start line for Teviotdale were Kirsty Hughes and Donna Inglis. The women covered a two lap loop of a 3000m course that tested all who stood ready for the gun.
Kirsty (31:42) ran steady paced and proved another strong finisher, picking up places in the final straight to come home 70th. Donna (35:39) stuck to her task and tackled the course with purpose to finish 83rd, describing stunning Stirlingshire sights during her run as two deer caught her eye.
The 8th race of the day and 6th to feature Teviotdale Harriers, was the under 15 girls/17 women’s race (3100m). Junior Girls Captain Carly Blaikie and fellow Langholm lass Macy Cropper demonstrated great dedication and drive to make the longer journey to Stirling and did not let the club down. Carly (13:59) finished 49th and Macy (14:35) was 57th.
The Senior/U20 Men’s race (9000m) was the final event to be run, tackling three laps of the tricky route. Teviotdale were represented by a strong four in Alan Inglis, Scott Watson, Bruce Hughes and Rory Anderson.
Consistent Rory (32:59) emerged first out of the woods for the Harriers and raced home in 45th position. Next home was Bruce (35:23), after taking a tumble on route finished 90th with Scott (35:35) showing ever improving form not far behind in 113th. Competing in the opening East District League Race for the 10th year in a row, Alan Inglis (39:17) gave his customary all to place 159th.
Prior to competing and subsequently romping to victory in the men’s race, Olympic 5000m finalist Andrew Butchart (27:34), who represents host club Central Athletics, stepped forward to acknowledge the warm applause and cheers of spectators and fellow runners.
Butchart, who finished 6th behind Mo Farah in that Rio final, proved to be a class act not only as a runner but after the race also. With many runners, young and old in awe of this oustanding athlete, he gladly gave up plenty of time to chat and pose for pictures. An inspirational character that happily turned out to compete for his club.
Bruce Hughes photos here