WITH three age-group league titles to their name, gained in their inaugural season in the East District Cross-Country League, Team Borders lined up at Stirling University on Saturday for the first of this season’s three races.
Gala Harriers and Moorfoot Runners provided the firepower with a number of new recruits and no fewer than six league debutantes.
The usual Charge of the Light Brigade followed the gun for the under-11 races over 1,600m and when the runners reappeared with the daunting glaur-filled 300m uphill finish ahead of them, it was Rory Williams (Gala) leading the way and keeping on well for victory.
Debutants Josh Abbott (Gala) and Craig Angus (Moorfoot) were close behind in third and eighth giving Team Borders U-11 Boys a resounding 32-point margin over second-placed Aberdeen.
The girls also took the team spoils through Rhiannon Fagan (Gala) in third, debutante Beth Hobbs (Moorfoot) fourth and Christie Rout (Gala) battling home for 20th.
The under-13 boys’ team did very well and just missed out on third place to Pitreavie by five points. Andrew Hogg (Gala), Jamie Logan (Gala) and Euan Hood (Moorfoot) were the team counters in 12th, 14th and 17th respectively over the 2.8km course.
Zaynah Aziz (Moorfoot) came home over the same course with an excellent individual second-place to lead the girls to second team, backed up by clubmate Mairi Wallace in 10th and Cara Hogg (Gala) in 24th.
In the combined under-15 girls/under-17 women’s race over 3.2km, Louise Mercer (Gala) was just run out of the top three. However, that fourth-place finish, combined with Moorfoot debutante Charlotte Barber’s well-paced run for 15th and Becci Couch (Gala) in 19th, secured Team Borders third team.
A strong squad was assembled for the under-15 boys’ race and some good pack running helped the Borderers to record their third team win of the day in a closely-fought contest. Nathan Cox (Gala) ran well for fourth in a top-quality field, Thomas Otton (Gala) was ninth and Kobe Stevens (Moorfoot) finished strongly for 10th.
The under-17 men’s team were defending their league title won last season and with Jack Stanners (Moorfoot) stepping up from the under-15s, hopes were high that Team Borders would again be a force to reckon with over the 6km course.
And so it proved.
Selkirk-based Moorfoot John McLean stormed to the individual win, with training partner Stanners not far behind in third. And with fellow Moorfoot Jacob Akin home in sixth it was a convincing 18-point win over Edinburgh.
The counting runners were well backed up by some strong running from their team-mates, whose support could prove crucial in the two races to come.