Ronhill Cambuslang Harriers exceeded their medal expectations at Saturday’s national cross country championships when they came away with 4 male team medals plus the AT Mays Trophy for the best male cross country club in Scotland, 2 female team medals and 4 individual medals.
The club got off to a perfect start in the opening race of the day when the under 13 boys
team of Struan Paton, Ryan Stephen, Luke Reilly and Drew Pollock packed well to win the
team event from VP/Glasgow and Edinburgh AC. This was the 10th victory in this event for
the club and apart from Struan the other 3 plus our 5th runner Leodhais Macpherson are all eligible to defend their team title next year. Olivia Mullholland was our first athlete home in the corresponding race for girls.
Although the under 15 boys team of Gavin Smith, Keir Morton, Scott Somerville and Euan
Miller were not among the team medals they did play an important part in keeping us in
contention for the best male club over the 5 different age categories. Euan showed true
grit in completing the course having lost one spike shoe in the mud. Unfortunately it was
the shoe to which his time chip was attached. However, we were able to rectify this with
the officials at the end of his race so that he was credited with finishing. Happily Euan was
able to retrieve his spike and race chip after his run. Lauren Carey was the first Cambuslang athlete over the line in the under 15 girls’ event.
RHC came back strongly in both the boys and girls under 17 races. The under 17 boys race was on paper perhaps the most open of all with 7 or 8 athletes in with a realistic chance of winning. All were in contention for the first half of the race before a trio of Lewis Boyle of VP/Glasgow, John Glen of Inverclyde and our Ryan Thomson broke away. That was to be the finishing order with Ryan narrowly missing out on the silver medal by 1 second. However, this was a tremendous performance by him and with strong support from David Robertson, Ross Stephen and Joe Sheridan the club secured the bronze team award. Our 5th runner home first year youth Jack McGregor will have the opportunity to team up with David in next year’s event . Our under 17 girls were not to be outdone and a brilliant effort from Eve MacKinnon resulted in her finishing a close 3rd and leading Rebecca Bonomi and Hannah Robertson to team bronze. This equalled our 2011 bronze medal performance in this age group.
The spotlight now fell on our under 20 runners and both teams surpassed themselves. Alex Lamond ran a typically gutsy and courageous race to gain 3rd spot ahead of more fancied rivals. With Katie Bristow close behind in 6th and Mhairi Brown playing a vital role in 14th position the team gold was secured ahead of Pitreavie Ac and Fife AC. History had been made as this was the first ever team victory by a female Cambuslang team. On the other hand, the under 20 men had previously won the male category on 7 previous occasions and they duly took this to 8 victories. The club suffered a setback on the lead up to the race when former youth cross country winner and Scottish triathlete Grant Sheldon withdrew due to injury. However, the quartet of Stewart Orr, Jack Hamilton, Bobbie Bristow and Stephen Paris gained a comfortable victory over VP/Glasgow and Edinburgh AC. Stewart just missed out on the bronze medal but it was encouraging to see him racing again after a lengthy injury. Spare a thought for Matthew McKenna who after a tussle throughout with Stephen lost out on 4th counter by 5 seconds. It was very pleasing for the club and especially for Katie and Bobby’s dad Niall to witness both of them winning a Scottish team gold medal.
The senior men faced a most difficult task in trying to wrestle the team title from an
exceptionally strong Central AC team. The Stirling based team were defending Scottish
champions, UK champions and 10th in the recent European championship. However,
Central were too strong and packed very closely to retain the title with the low score of
62 points ahead of ourselves on 115 points with the rapidly improving Corstorphine team
securing their first ever team medal in this event with 155 points. Nevertheless, we had the
consolation of advancing from last year’s bronze position to that of silver and providing the
winner of the senior race. After a close tussle over the first 2 laps with Deeside’s Robbie
Simpson and HBT’s Joe Symonds, both hill runners, our Ethiopian runner Wegene Tafese
eased away to win by 14 seconds from Simpson with Symonds a further 5 seconds adrift.
Wegene now joins Tommy Murray and Keith Anderson into the elite club of Cambuslang
athletes who have won a senior national cross country title. This was a tremendous victory
by Wegene in spite of having been accidentally spiked during the race and being unwell
before Xmas. Club captain Stuart Gibson was our next finisher in an excellent 9 th place and close packing from Ian MacCorquodale 19th, Davy Munro 26th, Ben Hukins 28th and Kerry Liam Wilson 32nd completed our team scoring. Robert Gilroy just missed out on a team medal but had the consolation of being the first vet over 35. Interestingly the first vet over 50 to cross the line was 56 year old Eddie Stewart who made the long journey over from the Czech Republic to take part in spite of only resuming training in January after injury. Dave Thom was the next over 50 in the race and Frank Hurley the first over 60. We were pleased to see a number of athletes making their debut in this event such as Kenny MacPherson, Daniel O’Connell, Niall Bristow and Alick Walkinshaw. It was also encouraging to have 23 senior runners competing.
Finally congratulations are offered to all of our competing athletes across the age groups and many thanks also to the support given on the day from the parents, spouses, friends, non competing athletes, officials and coaches. A special mention is due to our coaches who freely give of their time to develop our athletes.