Winning start for young athletes as new cross-country team kicks off

THE newly-established composite Borders team competing in the East District Cross-Country League, and comprising junior athletes from Gala Harriers, Moorfoot Runners and TLJT, got off to a dream start at Stirling University last Saturday.

Individual results included one win, three seconds and another six top-10 finishes but, more importantly, in the team competition, two wins, a second and a third were achieved across the eight junior races contested.

It all kicked off with two team wins in the under-11 boys’ and girls’ races over the undulating 1,600m course.

Andrew Hogg (Gala) led the field as they emerged into view for the tough 300m uphill stretch to the finish, with Euan Hood (Moorfoot) not far off the pace in third. And it was Euan who produced an impressive kick to storm home first with Andrew rallying well to hold on for second. Good backing-up from third counter Rory Williams (Gala) in ninth meant the first team honours of the season went convincingly to the Borders.

The under-11 girls quickly followed suit to make it two from two for Team Borders, in the process causing a few raised eyebrows amongst the traditionally strong East teams from Edinburgh, Central and Fife. The girls claimed their team win through Mairi Wallace (Moorfoot, 2nd), Cara Hogg (Gala, 9th) and Kazya Stevens (Moorfoot, 10th).

Zaynah Aziz was one of several athletes from the Selkirk running school to have joined the Moorfoot club in order to be eligible for the Borders team and the challenge of this level of competition. She duly turned in an excellent performance to finish second in the under-13 girls’ race of 2.8km, beaten home only by Scottish 1,500m No1 Leah Davie. Zaynah’s Selkirk training partners Jack Stanners and John McLean also ran exceptionally well in their first cross-country outings at this level.

Nathan Cox (Gala) was first of the Borders team home with a very strong eighth place in the under-15 boys’ race over 3.2km, with Jack Stanners (Moorfoot/Selkirk, 10th) and Kobe Stevens (Moorfoot, 15th) helping the team to third overall.

And in the under-17 men’s race over a gruelling 6km, Rowan Marr (Gala, 5th), John McLean (Moorfoot/Selkirk, 6th) and Jacob Adkin (Moorfoot, 14th) combined to finish second team, only five points behind winners Edinburgh.