BBC TV cameras captured yet another winter wonderland in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park as internationally-renowned African runners were in the spotlight at the Great Winter Run and Inter-District event on Saturday, where underfoot conditions could not have been more different from their home environment.
On the icy parkland with a further layer of fresh snow lying crisply on top, Gala Harrier Dianne Lauder stepped up to the line in the women’s 6k with names like Genzebe Didaba and Linet Masai, wearing her East of Scotland vest to compete against the best in the world as well as the best in Scottish female athletics.
Dianne’s fine run in 23min 30sec, taking in the treacherously- steep Haggie’s Knowe, placed her as the second counter for the East District, pipped by only two seconds by legend Liz McColgan’s daughter Elish, but ensuring that the East took second place in the rankings. And, from a field of 51 top class athletes, Dianne finished 28th overall.
The weather failed to deter Masai (20.24) or Didaba (20.32) who came in first and second respectively. Top Brit Mo Farah won the men’s 10k event, destroying the hopes of his rivals with a tactical break with over a lap remaining, to triumph in 25min 41sec.
Earlier it had been the turn of the East District junior athletes to impress over a shorter course and that they did with two local athletes helping their teams to glory.
Teviotdale Harrier Louise Mercer justified her selection by coming second overall in the girls’ under-15 event, with team mate Kathryn Gillespie clinching first and ensuring a gold medal for the East District team. The 14-year-old from Hawick ran a magnificent race, tucking herself in behind the leaders before fighting it out with Kathryn down the home straight for the final placings. The Central AC runner recorded a winning time of 9min 23sec, with Louise coming in right on her shoulder in 9.26.
Gala junior Rowan Marr took on the West and North of Scotland in the under-15 boys’ outing with a super run over 2.5 kilometres of the white stuff. He finished in a well-deserved 11th place overall in 8.51 and was second-placed runner for the East District which ensured their silver medal position behind the West of Scotland.
Morefoot runner Kobe Stevens was fifth counter in the under-13 boys’ event with an overall placing of 15th, recording a time of 10.18.