Harriers head for the seaside to compete in cross-country event

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BERWICK – or more specifically Spittal – was the backdrop for the second round of the shortened Borders Winter Cross-country series at the weekend.

And, for once, the weather was mild, if a little breezy, with conditions underfoot no different from what could be normally expected of a beach followed by a clifftop run.

The junior race is almost entirely on wet sand apart from a 200m turning stretch and this seemed to bring out the best performances in some of the Gala Harriers youngsters.

Rowan Marr did well to finish third overall, and third in his age group, in 15 minutes 11 seconds, with clubmate Fraser Wardhaugh in close pursuit in 15.41.

Only two seconds later came Nathan Cox with young Andrew Hogg, whose speed belies his tender age, storming over the line in 16.30 to come second in his category of M8-11 years.

Kerry Sandilands was flying in on his coat tails a second later in 16.31, first in her F14-15 category. Her excellent run meant that she just beat Cameron Gowans (16.35) in the closing moments, who in turn finished ahead of Alex Freer (17.13) safely in before a wave of Gala girls engulfed the line: Isla King (17.25, 2nd F16-17), Zoe Pflug (17.37, 1st F8-11), Cara Hogg (17.44, 2nd F8-11), Jo Arres (17.50), Marshall Smith (19.08 and not a girl), Morven Cawthorn (20.11), Rhiannon Fagan (20.41) and Billie Pflug (21.17).

No less than 106 seniors had gathered for their day at the seaside, with a dozen Harriers led home by Mark Bryson in fifth position with his run in 28.32, giving him first place in the M40-44 category. David Moffat (30.20), Colin McCall (30.45) and Paul Daly (30.50, 3rd M40-44) toughed it out to finish in rapid succession.

Martin Clarke (31.38), Bob Marshall (32.51, 1st M60-64) and Dave Nightingale (33.57, 1st M55-59) showed that the hunger to race competitively doesn’t stop as the years roll by, while Alastair Laurie (33.58) and Malky Gowans (35.20) both performed excellently.

A welcome return to full fitness following knee surgery heralded Graham Capper’s first race for more than a year and he enjoyed his outing in a solid 36.52, placing him second behind David Nightingale.

James Purves (38.32) and Shelagh King (46.46) rounded off the Gala line-up.