“In stark contrast to last year, glorious sunshine, not a breath of wind, and firm underfoot conditions greeted over 4000 people at Callendar Park, Falkirk for Scottish Athletics’ flagship National Cross Country Championships. A fantastic turnout of 32 Gala Harriers is testament to the club after a long cross country season.
First off on Saturday were the Under 13 Boys and all four boys ran well with Gregor Collins showing more consistency finishing 23rd in 13.11. A little further back were Evan McConnell (99th), Jack McDonald (111th), and Inness Campbell (129th).
In the girls U13 race, Mhairi Forbes was the first of the three Forbes females to run and she set the bar high with a confident run.
In the Under 15 races, the boys performed well with James Logan (46th), Lewis Tharme (113th), and Corrie Campbell (119th). In the girls race Susannah Godfrey-Faussett produced the highest placed finish of any Harrier all day with an excellent 15th in a strong field, all the more remarkable having been unwell in the 10 days leading up to the race. Susannah was well supported by Elena Heger (57th) and Eilidh Forbes (67th).
In the Under 17’s, all Gala runners were experiencing a step up in age group and race distance but Faisal Khursheed and Callum Tharme worked well together, Faisal reversing the finishing order from the Gala Cross Country 2 weeks before finishing just ahead (44th) of Callum (48th). Katie Rourke was also up against it over a longer distance and with the added challenge of running in a combined race with the U20’s but she showed a typically gutsy run to finish a fine 21st in 21.20.
Thomas Otton was the only U20 runner in either race and having not competed for a number of weeks, he was looking for some race sharpness ahead of the road and hill season. He didn’t disappoint with a trademark run working his way through the field to finish 20th.
In the senior races, the women were represented predominantly by the Masters girls who have been so successful over the last year. Gala Harriers will be searching for whatever Jenni Forbes had for breakfast because she had a superb race finishing 42nd with Fiona Dalgleish (56th) and Kate Jenkins (57th) battling with each other all the way round. The three girls again underlined their Masters credentials, finishing 5th, 7th and 8th V40’s. Making her National Cross Country debut in a Gala vest was Stephanie McDowall who also had an excellent run to finish in 70th place. Fiona Shepherd is back enjoying her running again and she also produced a special run to finish 93rd (7th V45) with Rachel Fagan (101st) and Dawn Grant (123rd).
Over 600 senior men lined up for the final race of the day and 10 Harriers were amongst them. Darrell Hastie is up there amongst the top runners these days and again he underlined his credentials finishing a fine 41st place. It was a further 6 minutes before the next Harrier finished (Fergus Johnston, 207th) and there was a steady stream thereafter with Rory Campbell (230th), Jamie McGowan (259th), Andrew Lawrie (266th), Colin McCall (346th), Mark Bryson (377th), Magnus Inglis (402nd), Billy McCulloch (416th) and Derrick Brydon (519th).”