Gala Harriers’ annual club cross-country championships took place on Saturday on a perfect morning for running.
The arduous 5.8-mile course alternates direction each year and the 30 runners this time started at Hollybush, before joining the Southern Upland Way and dropping down to the River Tweed at Yair and following the river back to Boleside.
The race combines a sealed handicap race named after the late Harrier Neil Potts, with the club’s annual cross -country championship, and athletes compete for some of the most attractive silverware in the display cabinet.
The popular winner of this year’s handicap race was Dawn Grant in a time of 50 minutes and 31 seconds – more than five minutes quicker than last year.
She has systematically improved her personal bests across every distance and over every terrain over the past few years and was a worthy winner.
In the men’s championship race, Darrell Hastie pipped podium winners from last year to break the tape first in 35.14, beating Gavin Bryson (35.42) and Fergus Johnson (36.33) into second and third, all having a fine run in the excellent conditions.
For the women, Dianne Lauder (39.36) took an impressive two minutes off last year’s time to gallop home in first place, with Fiona Dalgleish (43.16) in second place as last year, but almost half a minute faster, and Kate Jenkins (44.17) coming in third.
The annual presentation night was held in the town’s Royal British Legion afterwards.
Of particular note were the most improved junior and senior runners of 2014 – Susannah Godfrey-Faussett and Gavin Bryson sharing the junior accolade, while a delighted Nicola Porterfield took the senior title.
Trophies for representational honours were presented to Rachel Fagan and Fiona Dalgleish (national), Thomas Otton and Gavin Bryson (both national and district) and Andrew and Cara Hogg, Jamie Logan and Susannah Godfrey-Faussett (district).
Rosi Capper won the Endeavour Cup for services to the club and president Gerry Moss was given a special vote of thanks before he presented tokens of appreciation to all the club’s coaches.
The musical talents of three Harriers – Tommy Knox, Anya and Rory Campbell, followed by a disco rounded off the evening in style.
Next outing for the Harriers is the Borders Winter Cross Country Series, Round 2 on Sunday in Galashiels, juniors 11.30am, seniors noon.