Green machine earns plaudits for athletic accomplishments

Gala Harriers coaches, from left, Graeme Murdoch, Neil Renton, Gerry Moss, Eileen Nicol, Tony Lunn, Billy McCulloch, Gavin Brown and Kristina Noreikaite.
Gala Harriers coaches, from left, Graeme Murdoch, Neil Renton, Gerry Moss, Eileen Nicol, Tony Lunn, Billy McCulloch, Gavin Brown and Kristina Noreikaite.

Gala Harriers athletic club celebrated a year of continued success and growth at its recent award ceremony and presentation night.

More than 70 members – junior and senior – packed the clubhouse at Ladhope in Galashiels in an evening where their achievements were awarded with an array of medals and trophies.

The club, dubbed ‘the green machine’ by members on social media, has had a phenomenal year, with a number of athletes of all ages representing them at Borders, district and national level.

The Harriers ladies Masters team also won the Club Sport Ettrick and Lauderdale Team of the Year, and recently was awarded its third consecutive gold medal at the Scottish Masters Cross Country Championships.

While some of the club’s competing members have notched up a number of achievements this year, it was also stressed that the Harriers welcomes athletes of all ages and abilities, and the barrier of the club being viewed as only for “elite” runners was being broken down.

The club’s newly-elected president Graeme Murdoch said: “This is a family club for all ages and stages and I am delighted to see so many members here, particularly the large number of juniors.

“This is a great opportunity to look back and celebrate the success and achievements of all our club members.”

The prizes were presented to the recipients by men’s captain Billy McCulloch and ladies’ captain Fiona Dalgleish.

A large number of medals and trophies was awarded to youngsters competing in the Club’s Junior Championships. The young athletes took part in the pentathlon event, held at Tweedbank Sports Centre in August, to gain points towards the championship in U11, U13 and U15 age groups.

Young runners from the club who represented Scotland East at District level were also awarded medals on the night.

The award for Most Improved Junior went to Faisal Khursheed.

Recounting his achievements, Graeme said: “Faisal has had an excellent 12 months which have really seen him step up a level in terms of his training and performance in races.

“He is rapidly becoming established as one of the top runners in the U17 age group and, in the past 12 months, has twice finished runner-up in league XC races.

“He also won an excellent silver medal at the East District Cross Country Championships in Aberdeen and finished a fantastic fourth  place while running for the East of Scotland at the Inter District Cross Country event in January.”

 Most Improved Senior athlete was Lindsay Dunn, who has had an exceptional 12 months since joining Gala Harriers.

Speaking of her achievements, Graeme said: “Always committed in training, Lindsay works hard and everybody has seen the progress she has made.

“She embraces all types of races and distances and has tackled races from the Great Winter Run 5km (first in her age group), up to the Glen Ogle Ultra, with coastal runs, cross country races, and marathons in between.

“She is always looking to better herself and this award is the committee and coaches recognition of this.

“She even raced at her first national XC championships recnelty and showed not only how she has vastly improved but also that national races are there for everybody to compete in.”

The JSD Nisbet Trophy for Endeavour went to Club Together Officer and former club president Gerry Moss. Awarding the trophy, Graeme said: “Gerry is a real community person and is very approachable.

“He has worked very hard to break down barriers for the club so that it is no longer perceived as being a club for elite runners.

“He has done a power of work both behind the scenes for the committee and in coaching. He has also succeeded in attracting new people to come along to the club. This is a well-deserved award going to Gerry.”

Three of the club’s highly successful Ladies Masters athletes, Fiona Dalgleish, Jenny Forbes and Anya Campbell, were also awarded medals after representing Scotland in the British and Irish Masters Cross Country International in Dublin.

A number of senior athletes picked up awards for races held by the club annually, ranging from a track 800m to the Hollybush 10km.

Graeme also paid tribute to the club’s dedicated team of coaches. He said: “They put a huge amount of work in behind the scenes to plan and support the many sessions offered by the club and we are extremely grateful to them for all of their hard work.”

Jan Brown was presented with flowers after working tirelessly throughout the day with her family to provide the presentation night buffet.

Fiona Dalgleish received a bouquet in recognition of her hard work in submitting entries for the club for various events over the past four years.

Rounding up the presentations, Graeme thank everyone on behalf of the committee for making Gala Harriers what it was. He prasied the coaches, the backstage team which worked so hard behind the scenes, and the parents who ferried their children to training week in, week out, and gave the club their support.

“There is no doubt that the club is growing but, in order for it to continue growing, we need more people to support us,” said Graeme.

The evening’s celebrations finished with three of the club’s athletes turning their talents to music.

Rory Campbell (guitar/vocals), Anya Campbell (flute) and Sara Christie (vocals) performed a varied repertoire of songs from Guns ‘N’ Roses to Blondie, and Robbie Williams to Frozen.