You don’t need to be worrying about the decline in medal winners at big championships if you compete on the hills for Shettleston Harriers. We had collectively done enough to secure possibly four medals of our own on ‘Super Saturday’ with a number of dedicated Shettleston runners making long journeys both north and south to compete in the penultimate Scottish and final British Championship hill races.
Firstly we had a depleted A team of six travelling some 200 miles north of Glasgow, for the annual Strathpeffer Highland Games. A long way for a four mile race however, as it represented one of two required short championship counters, the sacrifice had to be made. A short and sharp route of 6.5km with 250m climb. From the map there didn’t appear to be any summits to reach, but it did wind up into the woods above Castle Leod. Not much time then to get into a rhythm or get your tactics wrong. Conditions looked good, lucky for some eh, with the sun basking the castle grounds as can be seen in the cover photo. Being a championship race, 101 runners had made the trip, trebling the average entry in the last five years.
Most notably Finlay Wild of Lochaber had decided to go north rather than south to race who before the start, was in pole position to take another senior men’s SHR title and was also a contender in the British standings. From the footage, Fin was leading at the highest point of the race followed closely by Shettleston U23, Ross Gollan. Not far behind the front pair we recently crowned bog and burn title winner, James Espie of Deeside, who has been having a sterling season, and Andy Fallas of Carnethy. Fin held on to win comfortably in a time of 25:43, smashing the course record of 28:20 on the way. Ross held on for an impressive 2nd, a minute behind in 26:43, his run could be enough to see him take the U23 SHR title, depending on the outcome of the final short race. James took 3rd followed by Andy in 4th. With some fast and furious running, the first seven home were all inside the previous course record.
In the vets, Dessie Flanagan of Carnethy, who has pretty much wrapped up the MV40 SHR title, came home in 6th. Not far behind was fellow club mate, Stewart Whitlie in 11th, also leading the MV50 campaign. John Connaghan came home next for the club in 12th, keeping the pressure on a 3rd place finish in the MV40 championship category behind the Carnethy boys, with Kenny Richmond from the club missing on the day. Bill Breckenridge who has been bossing the MV50 category and hotly in pursuit of Stewart, came home in 15th, cementing a likely 2nd in the SHR championship.
It was good to see Iain Pender, running his first hill race for the club, finishing strongly in 17th. Also good to see Alasdair Pringle back in action finishing well in 41st, 7th V40.
The ladies race was won by Jill Stephen of HBT in a time of 30:44 (22nd overall) and a new course record. Jill, who is also having a strong season, kept the pressure on fellow club mates, Miranda Grant, who had travelled to Wales to race and Georgia Tindley, in the SHR female title race.
Susan Breckenridge was our only lady travelling on the day who now looks set to finish well in the SHR champs, coming home in 90th in a time of 44:44.
With the squad being pretty threadbare, it’s looking unlikely that the seniors and MV40 teams can retain their respective titles, with Carnethy pushing them in to 2nd in both categories. Final results to be confirmed after the last short race in a few weeks time.
Even further travelled, were the B team trio who made the 600 mile round trip to Llanberis in North Wales for the final British Championship race. Shona Robertson had a designated driver and bag carrier for the weekend in Rodrigo Reis, who was unable to run due to injury so, despite a niggling hamstring, she was well rested if nothing else. I was also down in Wales albeit getting there under my own steam. Conditions in Wales were in stark contrast to the Highlands, with rain teaming down and visibility on the tops down to less that 10 meters. Maesgwm Muddle, a tough 16k or so mile course with 1,200m of climb which could have been more depending on how good or bad your navigation skills were. It was a delight to have an uphill finish in the field at the end, just what you need.
No great surprise at the front of the race with, man of the moment, Carl Bell of Keswick winning again in a time of 1:26:47. 2nd was Chris Arthur of Bowland in 1:28:16 with Carl’s club mate, Mark Lamb back in 3rd. Rob Hope of Pudsey was first MV40 home in 5th overall. I didn’t have the legs to challenge my contemporaries in the vets race coming home in 45th. Carl and Chris appear to have tied first being crowned joint British champions with Mark taking 3rd slot. Final standings are still to be released but notably Robert Simpson should still make a top 10 finish in his first assault of the British champs for the club.
The ladies race was won by local FU23, Bronwen Jenkinson of Eryri Harriers (29th) in a time of 1:42:31 taking the British title. Emma Gould of Mercia and Miranda Grant of Eryri/HBT were 2nd and 3rd respectively in the race.
With both Jude Jepson and Lou Roberts missing, Shona had a good opportunity to capitalise on the FV40 British title who was sitting in 3rd position before the start of the race. Despite a strong run from Shona in a time of 1:54:38 (74th overall) it wasn’t enough to catch Mel Price of Mercia, who ran 1:51:57 and in doing so looks to have leapfrogged five places in the championships to take the British FV40 title. Shona, deservedly after some ups and down earlier in the season, should have secured 2nd in the British Championships.
With availability being stretched, the senior men’s team weren’t able to capitalise overall in British champs standings with Keswick being crowned as winners and in the MV40 category, our 3rd place looks to have been lost to Todmorden and probably Calder Valley who were well represented in Wales.
John Connaghan should hopefully achieve a fine 8th place in the British standings with me a few places back in 12th (final standings still to be confirmed). Bill Breckenridge may also place well in the MV50 category, currently 10th overall.
Results for the races still to be released on websites but can be found here, meantime:
Some photos courtesy of Highland Hill Runners and Eryri Harriers can be found below. Cover shot of Ross Gollan on his way to 2nd place.
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