Gala Harriers head north

Thomas Otten
Thomas Otten

EVENTS over the past two weeks have seen Gala Harriers put through their paces at a variety of distances and terrains.

Not to mention launching a brand new open 10k race last Sunday.

James Mercer

James Mercer

The 20 mile Edinburgh to North Berwick road race is a traditional way to prepare for summer marathons and seven Harriers did just that – and did it in style. 210 finishers undertook the gruelling distance in sunny but cool conditions and the favourable tailwind helped everyone along to some great times.

Colin McCall (2 hours 13 minutes and 4 seconds) and Graham Manczak (2.13.32) finished less than half a minute apart after having been inseparable over the first half, with McCall just saving enough for the final push to catch up and overhaul his clubmate. Dave Nightingale, who just doesn’t seem to get any slower, was a bare 10 minutes adrift in 2.23.19 with Martin Clarke snapping at his heels in 2.24.05.

First Gala woman home was Carole Fortune in a mightily impressive 2.35.53, with Joeleen McKean (2.37.27) and Fiona Shepherd (2.43.39) putting in strong performances which will stand them in good stead for adding the final six miles of the marathon distance later this month.

Two Gala Harriers represented the club at the National junior hill running championships on the slopes of Ben Lomond on Saturday. Thomas Otton and James Mercer, both in the U17 age group, negotiated the tricky underfoot conditions made worse by an early morning downpour.

Otton held 4th place after the shorter first lap, with Mercer mid pack. James worked his way through to finish in a very good 7th place. Thomas maintaining his position on the longer second lap finishing in a comfortable 4th place.

With the upcoming return of trains to the Borders, work on and around the Black Path means that this was no longer an appropriate route for the annual Gala Harriers’ 10k race, staged in the town since the club’s centenary in 2002.

The committee took the decision to relocate the race to Tweedbank, and the residential streets, the Loch and the athletic track itself. On Sunday, a junior 3k race attracting 55 young runners started proceedings before the rain came down, with excellent and enthusiastic performances from all comers.

The host club took the honours with five out of six top places going to young Harriers with a clean sweep in the boy’s race - Joe Agnew coming through with a well-paced win over second placed Jamie Logan and Andrew Hogg in third.

Teviotdale Harriers’ Ishbel Inglis rained on Gala’s parade in the girl’s race, with a strong run to take top slot, just beating Cara Hogg and Rhiannon Fagan into second and third places. (All results for junior and senior races will be posted on the Harriers’ website.)

The senior race acquired the status of an East District Championship race, attracting well over 100, with some fine runners from the south of Scotland as well as throughout the Borders. An increasingly wet Tweedbank was the setting for a double loop of 6.1 miles and for the men, the top places in the District categories went to Bryan Mackie of Edinburgh Athletic Club in a superb time of 32 minutes and 55 seconds, with Stevie Cairns (33.41) and Stuart Johnston (34.31) following him in.

In the club race itself Colin Welsh (34.53) did well to hold on to fourth place for Gala, giving him the trophy for the first Gala Harrier home after top three placed Bryan Mackie, Stuart Johnston and Robert Watson (34.45).

Stevie Cairns took the first male vet 40+ trophy with Gala’s Dave Nightingale triumphant in the male vet 50+ class. New Harrier Broc Drury (36.03) scooped both the first junior male and first local.

The women also thrived along the new course with West Linton athlete Susan Ridley (39.27) taking first place in both East District and club races, but in the district category, Gala’s Jenni Forbes (40.08) and Fiona Dalgleish (40.12) stormed through into second and third positions. Jenni took second and Karen Dobie, Edinburgh, secured third place in the club race in a time of 41.21.

First female vet was club captain Rachel Fagan (40.16) with Fiona Dalgleish taking the supervet prize as well as the first local woman home. And in a run which delighted her and her dad Kevin, Gala’s 14-year-old Jenni Stevenson took the first female junior prize.

Gala Harriers wish to thank all who organised and assisted in the planning and delivery of this brand new race.