THE first East District Cross Country event of the season – the relay championships at Camperdown Park, Dundee – took place on Saturday on a bright, mild day.
Gala Harriers fielded athletes in all four sections, probably the best turnout for a few years.
Junior teams comprise a runner from each of the under-13, 15 and 17 age categories, and the Young Females kicked off with Cara Hogg in the U13s, who covered the 2.5 kilometres of grassy parkland in an impressive 10min 50sec. She handed on to Jo Arres (U15) who put in a lap of 10.30, a super effort. Louise Mercer (U17) flew round the final leg in 9.27, the third fastest lap of the day, to ensure the team finished a very creditable eighth from 20.
The Young Males managed to field three complete sides in a large turnout of 30.
Following time trials last week to establish ultimate team selection, Gala ‘A’ medalled in this event for the first time, fully justifying decisions made by the coaches. Starting with a well-judged run from Andrew Hogg (U13) in 9.17, they rose from ninth place to fourth with a stunning show from Nathan Cox (U15) in 8.15. Rowan Marr (U17) then consolidated with a strong run in the same time to bring home the team in bronze medal position. Nathan and Rowan jointly recorded the sixth fastest lap time of the day.
Gala ‘B’ did well to finish 13th, with good performances from Jamie Logan (9.18), Gavin Bryson (8.42 – 10th fastest lap in his age group) and Cameron Burnett (9.01) rounding off the solid team effort. Gala ‘C’ also ended up in the top two-thirds of the field, with Joey Brown (10.25), Joe Agnew (9.25) and Fraser Wardhaugh (9.17) bagging 20th position.
For the seniors, another 1.5k was added to each leg of the course, with a full Gala ladies team and two three-quarter men’s sides represented.
Rachel Fagan (17.04) recorded a solid start, then passed on to Eileen Nicol (18.20) who lifted them one place. She was followed by Fiona Shepherd (18.08) who took her side up another slot, giving them a well-deserved 18th position out of 44 starting teams.
Two-and-three-quarters Gala men’s teams joined the 61 starters with some excellent individual performances all round, leaving the two full entries in 16th and 29th places respectively.
Colin Welsh (14.08) led the ‘A’ team out with a strong first leg; Colin McColl followed him in 14.48, then Euan Jardine (15.02) and Fergus Johnston (14.23) took them four more places up the leaderboard.
For the ‘B’ team, Mark Bryson (14.25), Sinclair Hill (15.32), Billy McCulloch (16.26) and Steve Martin (15.08) ran well to squeak home in 29th place. Dave Nightingale (16.06), Derrick Brydon (16.14) and Wayne McIntosh – in an impressive 14.27 – were disappointed to run out of teammates. so could not complete the relay.