RHC dominate mens individual and team medals at Scottish Masters XC championships
A glorious weekend in the north east of Scotland saw the club’s veteran men return home victorious once again, with 5 individual medals and both M35+ and M50+ team titles being retained, despite only 9 athletes making it to the start line for the men’s race, with 2 of our M65 runners competing in the mixed Ladies / M65+ race.
Almost every one of our athletes could have pulled out of the race due to recent injuries and illness, but once again they put the club before themselves and ensured the club continued to hold all M35+ and M50+ Scottish team and relay road and cross country titles, despite an ever increasing challenge from a growing number of improving masters clubs who continue to close the gap in what is a very competitive, yet sporting environment.
The conditions, although very cold, were ideal for racing with the course being likened to a trail race in many places, with a couple of nice challenging hills to keep everyone on their toes. First off were Robert Anderson and Davie Fairweather for the M65’s, with Robert finishing just out of the medals in 4th place, with Davie in 6th place. Robert has sacrificed his own training in recent years to coach many of the clubs up and coming talented youngsters, and is sure to feature in the medal positions in future if he can remain injury free.
The M35-M64 race recorded 119 finishers, almost double the number from the last time this race was held in Forres, and the quality of running seems to improve year on year. Whilst all of our runners were briefed of the importance that every finishing place could make to team positions, they all had their own individual age group battles to focus on throughout the race. At the head of the field, last year’s winner Kerry Wilson led the field for most of the race before being overhauled by the classy Bobby Quinn of Kilbarchan, who finished 6 seconds ahead of Kerry. Bobby and Kerry have now dominated the overall title between them for the last 6 years. Completing the 1-2-3 was Keith Hood of Corstorphine AAC, another talented runner who is likely to feature further in the medal positions in the years ahead. Kerry secured 1st M40 gold and set out our stall in defending the team title. Next home was Robert Gilroy in 6th position, 2nd M35, only missing out for the gold by 3 seconds, but continuing to improve after some interrupted training.
Charlie Thomson was a major doubt for this race, but ran through the pain barrier to help the team, knowing that he would be forced to take time off after the race to recover. Charlie’s bravery and commitment was rewarded with an excellent 9th place overall, securing him 3rd M45 bronze medal whilst securing vital points in the team race.
Next home and final counter for the M35+ team was Dave Thom in 20th position. Having been fastest M50 at both the Scottish XC relays and West District championships, Dave’s newly found superb form on this terrain saw him in with an individual medal chance for the first time in this race, and after a great battle with the much fancied local lad Stan McKenzie of Forres, Dave steadily but significantly pulled away to open up a gap of 15 seconds at the end to secure 1st M50 gold. With our 1st 4 finishing ahead of each of the respective athletes from the much tipped Hunters Bog Trotters, the M35+ team title was retained for the 6th year in succession.
Frank Hurley ran an absolute stormer to dominate the M60 individual title from start to finish, finishing a clear 2½ minutes clear of his nearest rival, and has now added the M60 gold title to the M55 gold from 2 years ago. Borrowing a pair of trail shoes and partaking of 1 bottle of beer the night before might yet become a more popular occurrence. Frankie Barton finished just behind Frank, and Colin Feechan finished as 3rd counter for the M50+ team with the M50+ positions of 10th, 11th and 17th securing the 2nd team title of the day, despite losing Dave Thom to the M35+ team.
Mick O’Hagan was on hand to push for a team place but has still to return to his form of last year, whilst Sandy Eaglesham had a steady performance whilst backing up the M50 team challenge.
Thanks also go to Alan Ramage, Caol anne Thomson and Sheila Anderson who provided much needed support throughout the race, to Forres Harriers for their hospitality and to Alex Jackson, Ron Morrison and their team for organising another masters event with great organisation and efficiency.
No resting on our laurels, the 4-6 stage road relays in Livingston are scheduled to take place on Easter Sunday, 31st March where 2 men’s master team titles will be up for grabs, M35+ (6 stages) and the inaugural M50+ (4 stages), as well as the Senior men (6 stages) championships.