Undulating but testing parkland in Cumbernauld was the challenge faced on Saturday at the National Cross-country Relays for four and three quarter teams from Gala Harriers, who competed with the best from the length and breadth of Scotland.
Last year, the only Gala Harriers’ women’s entry competing came 28th and this year, Gala A’s team of Gillian Duncan, Rachel Fagan and Dianne Lauder improved on that performance by a dozen places.
In a large field of 73 full teams, Gillian (18 minutes and 5 seconds) put the A girls firmly in the top half in 36th place before Rachel (18.07) brought the team up into 27th.
Finally, Dianne (15.58) overtook 11 runners in her final leg to bring the trio home in a well-deserved 16th place overall.
Dianne’s time was only six seconds outside the top 12 fastest laps.
There was also a Gala women’s B team this year, comprising of Gina Allen, Fiona Shepherd and Eileen Nicol.
Again, like their club counterparts, they moved steadily up the field with their three legs from Gina (73rd in 20.45) to Fiona (61st in 19.44) and finally Eileen (59th in 20.29.)
The senior men from Gala doubled their numbers and took two teams to Cumbernauld this year, as well as three quarters of a team.
Sadly it meant that the hard work put in by Gala C in the shape of Derrick Brydon (17.24), Billy McCulloch (17.36) and Alastair Laurie (19.49) didn’t count as the men have to field four runners.
But they were able to watch the A and B entries coming home in 41st and 56th places respectively out of a large field of more than 99 teams.
Unlike the women, who all gradually moved up the field as the relays progressed, the men’s placings moved back and forward as the relay unwound.
For the A quartet, Graeme Murdoch got off to a cracking start (14.27) handing over in 19th place to Euan Jardine (15.50 in 36th), David Moffat (17.43 in 57th) and finally an excellent leg from Fergus Johnston (14.52) who lifted the squad to 41st.
The B team, who were competing as vets, which had brought them bronze medal glory in the East District two weeks ago, had made one change to the team, with Dave Nightingale replacing Billy McCulloch.
Mark Bryson (15.25), Steve Martin (16.08), Nightingale (17.02) and Sinclair Hill (15.50) brought the squad home in 56th place overall and 11th position in the vets’ category.
The hill-running group of Gala Harriers took to the Borders countryside once more on Sunday with the welcome return of leader Paul Morris. The runners made it to Yarrowford and up to Minchmoor and back before the rain set in, providing the perfect morning’s exercise for a dozen muddied but happy Harriers.