GALA GIRLS RE-WRITE THE RECORD BOOKS AGAIN
The majority of Scotland’s athletics eyes were fixed firmly on Livingston last weekend for the Scottish Athletics 4/6 Stage Road Relays. Bringing together the country’s top runners running alternating legs of 3 miles and 5.8 miles, Gala Harriers had another strong entry for one of the showcase events in the calendar. Run on Livingston’s twisting paths through parks and housing estates, it always proves an excellent test for all competitiors.
Gala’s women have enjoyed a feast of success at this event and the infamous Masters team were unbeaten in three years going into the event. Such is the strength and depth of the masters women’s squad that competition for team selection itself is fierce in itself. On the start line this year was ladies captain Fiona Dalgleish who ran an excellent first leg over the shorter distance and had already opened up a 2 minute gap on closest challengers Edinburgh. Kate Jenkins ran her usual gutsy race on leg 2 to increase the lead before Fiona Shepherd, who has run faster and faster this year, put in another strong performance on leg 3 to increase the lead further. Jenny Forbes on leg 4 really just had to complete the course to retain the title but her sparkling run of form continues and she blazed round the course in 35 mins to ensure that the record books were re-written yet again with a 4th National Road Relay title in a row.
The men’s teams may not have been expecting to challenge for the medals but 2.5 teams lined up to take on the best road runners around. The masters team had a strong team of six for the first time in recent years and true to form they got off to an excellent start with strong opening legs from Craig Mattocks and Tim Darlow. Ron Hill Cambuslang and Kirkintilloch Olympians have historically been dominant in this category and this year was no different but Gala battled hard with Bellahouston for third place. Further positive runs from Wayne McIntosh and Jamie McGowan on legs 3 and 4, followed by Steve Martin and Rory Campbell on legs 5 and 6 saw an excellent 4th place finish just outside the medals.
The senior men’s team looked strong on paper and was led off well by junior, Thomas Otton who ran a quick yet tactically astute first leg to hand over to the in form Darrell Hastie who produced another fine run on the long leg 2. He handed over to fellow Kelso team mate Colin Welsh who ran well and put Marcus D’Agrosa in prime position to have another consistent run and underline his credentials for the future. Fergus Johnston was in the unusual position of having to arrive extra early for the shorter leg 5 but dug in to hand over to Andrew Lawrie to complete the race. Final results are not yet available but it could be one of the highest place finishes for many years.
A couple of late call offs from the third team meant that the pressure was off a little but Bob Johnston set a blistering opening pace before Colin “Coco” McCall, Billy McCulloch, and Magnus Inglis completed their legs for the club.
A little further afield, and running the combined distance of all 6 relay legs, Joeleen McKean got the marathon season underway in Paris. Running her first ever road marathon, Joeleen possibly put in the performance of the weekend with a sensational time of 3 hours 18 mins that took in all of the famous Paris sights