Borders schools battle it out for cross-country glory

Senior boys medallists from left,  Kobe Stevens, Thomas Otton and Gavin Bryson
Senior boys medallists from left, Kobe Stevens, Thomas Otton and Gavin Bryson

Having been postponed due to heavy snow in January, the Borders Schools Cross-country Championships eventually took place at Netherdale last Thursday.

Organised by the Scottish Borders Athletics Development Group, in partnership with Border Sport and Leisure, the event proved a great success with more than 500 young runners from all over the region taking part.

Development group representative Gregor Nicholson said: “We witnessed another fantastic day of running and while the attention inevitably falls on the individual and team medallists, all who took part demonstrated commitment, respect and camaraderie which they and their schools can be proud of.

“It’s an event which is made possible only with the support of many, including the HND sports students from Borders College, Borders Sport and Leisure Trust, Gala RFC, Scottish Borders Council and our fantastic team of volunteer helpers and marshals. We are very grateful to them all.”

The primary school races kicked off proceedings mid-morning with the earlier sleet making little difference to the course, with firm underfoot conditions. What’s more, the clouds broke and the sun provided some welcome warmth to repel the early morning wintry weather. And the afternoon action saw the secondary schools take up the battle.

One of the many highlights of an action-packed day came in the final race, the Open Boys, over 4km, in which Thomas Otton from Galashiels, Gavin Bryson from Earlston, and Peebles duo Kobe Stevens and Sam MacNeill broke away to battle for the honours on the last lap.

Going down the back straight for the final time, Otton began to crank up the pressure with Stevens only a few metres adrift.

But that was as close as he got as the former relentlessly maintained his advantage, with Stevens holding on for the silver from a resurgent Bryson, with only three seconds separating the trio.

The three Peebles runners took the team honours to round off an excellent day for the school who ran out comfortable winners of the overall secondaries championship, Kingsland having taken the primaries title earlier in the day.

Ewan Jackson, chief executive of Borders Sport and Leisure, said: “To have more than 500 runners involved is an incredible achievement and we are committed to continuing to provide the resources and input needed to grow and develop this championship for the future.”

Full results on page 97.