PRE-RACE nerves were soon forgotten as three local teams scored convincing wins at the final round of the East District Cross Country League, held at Broxburn on Saturday, to secure the three league trophies for Team Borders in their inaugural season.
Moorfoot coach Gregor Nicholson was delighted with the performances of all the athletes and told TheSouthern: “This combined Borders team from three of the four formal clubs in the region – Gala Harriers, Moorfoot Runners and TLJT – puts us on a more level footing with the big clubs in the East of Scotland.
“It is a credit to all the coaches involved and demonstrates that the Borders is punching way above our weight in cross-country running in Scotland.”
The early morning frost was out of the ground long before the crack of the gun for the first race broke the still air, and with the cloud cover keeping the temperature well above freezing, conditions were nearly perfect.
Jamie Logan (Gala) again showed great promise in the under-11 boys’ race, sprinting clear up the home straight for victory over the one-mile course in 7 minutes 19 seconds.
Andrew Hogg (Gala) was only 10 seconds behind in fourth and with Euan Hood (Moorfoot) back to form in eighth (7.41) it was another comfortable team win which confirmed the title by a massive margin of 113 points.
Rory Williams (Gala, ninth in 7.50), Marshall Smith (Gala, 11th in 7.59) and Jamie Kinghorn (Gala, 13th in 8.01) brought Team Borders B home as second team on the day, which sneaked them into second overall by one crucial point.
So a 1-2 for the Team Borders under-11 boys – and not to be outdone, the under-11 girls, running over the same course, followed up with a 10-point winning margin on the day over Central AC.
Mairi Wallace (Moorfoot) recovered from illness to come home second with a very strong run in 7.44, Cara Hogg (Gala) was seventh in 8.16 and Kazya Stevens (Moorfoot) kept on well for ninth in 8.30.
The league title was beyond the under-15 boys, who went into this third leg lying third team overall, but well behind the runaway leaders Edinburgh AC.
However, Fife AC were only eight points ahead in second place, so were within reach if each of the three counters could improve three places against their Fife opposition.
And so it proved with the Team Borders winning the team competition on the day with very strong runs from Jack Stanners (Moorfoot/Selkirk) fourth over the 4km course in 14.48, Kobe Stevens (Moorfoot) having his most impressive run of the season in fifth in 14.54 and Nathan Cox (Gala) ninth in 15.07.
The combined under-17/ under-15 girls’ team also fared well with an improved second place on the day, courtesy of Gala trio Kerri Sandilands (13th in 16.51), Lucy Henderson (14th in 16.57) and Becci Couch (16th in 17.04). However, this just failed to lift them to an overall podium place.
And so to the final nail-biter for Team Borders, the under-17 men’s race over 6km. With an ankle injury and illness restricting the recent training of the team’s two strongest runners thus far, Adam Craig (TLJT) and John McLean (Moorfoot/Selkirk), the odds on them retaining their one-point margin over Edinburgh AC looked to be lengthening.
But a strapped-up Adam beat the pain barrier to produce another strong run for 2nd in 21.01 and John belied the odds to come home fifth in 21.31. Sandwiched between them was Jacob Adkin (Moorfoot), who produced the run of his life to finish fourth in 21.23, clinching a nine-point winning margin on the day over Edinburgh.
Nicholson was at pains to point out though that other Team Borders runners played their part too.
“Whilst the first three Team Borders runners in each race scored the points for the team, the contribution made by everyone who ran should not be underestimated,” he said.
“Even if they are not a team counter, they can push back counting runners from other teams by finishing as high as they can, and that certainly proved to be the case in several of the age-groups at Broxburn.”
In the under-17 women’s race, Louise Mercer, representing Teviotdale Harriers, finished fifth and Scout Adkin (Moorfoot) was an encouraging 13th home in the combined senior/under-20 women’s race and third under-20 woman.