Cambuslang Harriers brought the winter season to a spectacular conclusion by winning team gold in both the Junior/Senior Scottish 6 Stage Road Relay Championship and in the Masters over 40 Men event with the over 50 male quartet lifting team bronze. The club again underlined its consistent performance over the years in these 3 age groups having won 6 senior gold, 8 silver and 11 bronze medals while the M40 team has amassed 8 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze and the M50s 5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze in the 7 year existence of this age category. There was further icing on the cake when on the same day Kerry-Liam Wilson on his 30K road debut secured the Scottish senior and masters titles at Perth.
The senior and masters men 6 stage events consisted of alternate 5K and 5.8 mile laps with only 4 stages for the Men 50 and ladies. Apart from the undulating and twisting terrain at Almondvale Livingston the runners also had to contend with 40 MPH winds. The junior/senior A team got off to an excellent start with under 20 athlete Drew Pollock having his best run of the season to hand over to Kevan Harvey in 3rd place. Kevan ran his customary gritty race to finish a close 4th. Stuart Gibson then clocked the fastest short stage on leg 3 to catapult Cambuslang into a 31 seconds lead over Shettleston Harriers. An isolated Ryan Thomson with the 2nd fastest long stage of this lap extended the club’s lead over Shettleston to 1 minute 29 seconds. Going into the penultimate stage there was some concern in the Cambuslang camp as to how under 20 Gavin Smith would perform given he had been feeling unwell prior to the race. However, Gavin dispelled any such concerns by producing a gutsy 2nd fastest time for his leg to give the Lanarkshire club a seemingly commanding lead over Shettleston of 1 minute and 51 seconds. It was shaping up to be an exciting finale. Could Fraser Stewart hang onto Cambuslang’s lead with 3 of Scotland’s finest distance runners in his wake – Lachlan Oates of Shettleston, Andy Douglas of Inverclyde only 3 seconds adrift of him and Corstorphine’s Calum McKenzie a further 14 seconds behind? The danger was that while Fraser was running isolated the chasing trio had the benefit of racing each other for podium places which would help to reduce the deficit. However, Fraser held his nerve and ran his own race to cross the line first with 72 seconds to spare over Inverclyde with Corstorphine a close 3rd only 2 seconds behind and Shettleston just missing out on the medals by 6 seconds. Naturally the Cambuslang sextet and supporters were jubilant having witnessed a great team effort by all. 5 of the 6 had competed well in the fast Armagh 5K road race event in mid February and this gave them the confidence to draw on.
The M40 relay was also a competitive 4 way tussle between Cambuslang, Edinburgh, Corstorphine and Shettleston Harriers. On the opening leg John Paul Murphy did his job well to put club captain Iain Reid in a good position to chase the 3 rival clubs. Iain’s 2nd fastest masters long stage time of the day provided an inspired Michael Healy with the opportunity to give Cambuslang a narrow lead over Edinburgh, Corstorphine and Shettleston. The positions remained the same over the second half of the race with the experienced Kenny Campbell, Justin Carter and Ben Hukins all running strongly to post a 33 seconds victory over Edinburgh with Corstorphine taking the bronze medal. All were delighted to retain the trophy with Justin being the only survivor from last year’s winning team. John Paul and Michael were rewarded for their efforts with their first ever Scottish medals.
Cambuslang Harriers also had the satisfaction of finishing the first B team which underlines their strength in depth. Ryan Donnelly, Jamie MacKinnon, Douglas Roberts, Colin Reilly, Ritchie Carr and Iain McDonald combined well to take 11th spot. The C team gained 43rd place thanks to Brendan Carey, Tony McCutcheon, Scott Hunter, Dan O’Connell, Frank Hurley and Kenny Finlayson.
While the M50 men started off with the younger age groups there were only 4 legs for them. Cumbernauld and Shettleston finished well clear in first and second position with the Cambuslang quartet of Des Dickson, Dave Thom, Mick O’Hagan and Stan MacKenzie equally comfortable in securing the bronze medals.
The female teams composed of 4 runners ran the same course and distances as the men albeit their race started 10 minutes later. Bernie O’Neil, Jennifer Reid, Lesley McArdle and Carole Setchell all worked well to record 21st position. The honours in this race went to Central AC, Shettleston and Edinburgh University.
The Cambuslang young athletes had competed the previous week in the Scottish Road Races. The under 15 boys team of Robbie Woods, Lewis Roddis and Zak Povey took the bronze medals while the under 17 male trio of Chris McLew, Aaron Grew and Michael Black had to settle for 4th spot. The under 15 girls finished a creditable 5th thanks to debutant Fiona Hay, Shona Carey and Eilidh Kennedy. Under 13 Abbie McClue led Mia Carmichael and Lucy McGrandle to 8th place while their male counterparts finished 14th team courtesy of Brodie McDonald, Gavin Kelly and Jay Gallacher. Under 17 runner Susie McLaughlin finished 17th in her age group.