Harriers cover formidable heights and distances

The Gala Harriers runners at Kaeside.
The Gala Harriers runners at Kaeside.

Recent activity by athletes from the Gala Harriers club makes for a pretty comprehensive round-up this week.

Organised by the club itself, the Eildon Three Hills race is a traditional event which has taken place in late June for over 50 years and is part of the week-long Melrose Festival.

Originally a race covering only one of the hills, the challenge has been increased first to two hills, but now covering all three main summits over a distance of 7.2 km and a total climb of 480m.

This year’s event featured 92 runners from clubs across the country. The race was won impressively by Ben Huskins of Cambuslang Harriers in 37:11 mins, and by Charlotte Morgan of Carnethy Hill Racing Club in 42:12 mins.

There was also lots of local interest, with a number of Gala Harriers taking on the hills. There were team successes for Gala Harriers in the men’s and women’s events. Harriers’ finishers were: Gary Trewartha (12th; 44:33), Sinclair Hill (17th; 45:14), Colin Brown (18th; 45:18), Nathan Beard (21st; 45:55), Lizzie Macleish (23rd; 46:12), Bob Johnston (26th; 47:56), Sam McKinnon (28th; 48:11); Tony Lunn (31st 48:56), Alan Johnston (34th; 49:37), Billy McCulloch (36th; 49:58), David Nightingale (43rd; 52:03), James Purves (44th; 52:36), Carole Fortune (48th, 53:48), David Hunter (52nd; 55:16); Dawn Grant (66th; 1:00:32), Gary Fraser (74th, 1:03:44); Shelagh King (82nd, 1:09;04).

Elsewhere, the West Highland Way Race is one of the world’s longest established ultra-marathons, first taking place in 1985 on the long-distance trail between Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, and Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.

Since then, it has developed a worldwide reputation as one of the ‘classic’ ultra-marathon races, attracting runners to Scotland from all over the world. The 95-mile race includes 14,760ft of ascent.

A formidable challenge requiring formidable athletes to complete the event within the 35-hour cut-off. Yan Horsburgh of Gala Harriers is one such athlete – he covered the course in 22h 42min 43s for 63rd place overall and ninth in his category. A superb effort.

The pretty and undulating roads around the village of Stichill is the scene for the Stichill 10K, this year run in hot and muggy conditions. Marcus D’Agrosa of Gala Harriers secured the race win in a strong run of 34 mins 28 secs. Julie Johnstone took second place in the women’s race and eighth overall with a fine run of 43 mins 4 secs.

In addition, an extremely strong field, featuring three former Olympians, gathered in Glasgow last Friday for the Brian Goodwin 10K. That the top 16 runners all crossed the line in under 33 minutes is an indication of the race quality.

Gala Harriers ace Darrell Hastie secured a terrific 10th place in a time of 32 min 32 secs.

Also, the recent SUPERteams competition held at Scotstoun stadium in Glasgow featured 129 teams of Under-12 athletes. The competition allows young athletes to experience a range of athletic events in a competitive and fun team environment. An eager group of young Gala Harriers made the trip and performed brilliantly on the day.

Further afield, the 33rd edition of the Hoy Half Marathon on Orkney took place recently on a course described by the organisers as scenic, but also extremely hilly.

Gala Harriers duo Kate Jenkins and Craig Mattocks are frequent travellers to this event. Kate continued her remarkable record, breaking the tape in 1:40:29 for the win in the women’s race – her fifth win overall. Craig ran a strong time of 1:27:27 over the challenging course to earn his fourth second place at this race.

Law Breaker hill race took place at Tillicoultry, near Stirling. On a course of 5.4 km, covering 630m of climbing, Carole Fortune continued her intensive period of racing with 73rd position overall in 1:00:32 and second in her category.

The 13-mile route of the Great Lakes fell race is packed with variety and starts with an eyeballs-out ascent of The Band to Bowfell.

The route then makes a high-level summit-hopping circuit of Upper Eskdale, including the two highest peaks in the Lakes, Scafell Pike and Scafell. There follows a crossing from Slight Side to Blisco and fast running south of Great Moss before a final steep descent from Blisco.

James Purves of Gala Harriers took on this challenge, finishing 10th in his category in a time of 4:45:55, a tremendous achievement.

Closer to home, the Durisdeer hill race is centred on Durisdeer hill in Dumfries & Galloway and follows runnable grassy ridges and tracks for nearly 15 kilometers. Harriers hill running specialist James Purves raced around the course in 2:34:09 for 28th place overall and fourth in his category.

Menawhile, the annual Gala Harriers club 5K championship was run over a scenic course starting and finishing in Darnick going via Kaeside.

In the men’s race, Marcus D’Agrosa repeated his triumph of 2017 coming home first, followed by Craig Mattocks and Tim Darlow. The women’s race was won by Sara Green, with a strong run. Julie Johnstone earned a second-place finish, with Gill Duncan completing the podium in third.

Full results and times: Marcus D’Agrosa 17:10, Craig Mattocks 19:01, Tim Darlow 19:44, Ian Maxwell 20:03, Neil Christie 20:24, Sara Louise Christie Green 20:31, Bob Johnson 20:49, Richard Turnbull 21:12, Julie Johnstone 21:14, Gillian Duncan 22:01, David Nightingale 22:17, Kate Jenkins 23:48, Lisa Dalgleish 23:51, Kate Darlow 23:57, Eileen Maxwell 24:01, Dawn Marie Grant 24:49, Eileen Nicol 25:00, Simon McArree 25:12, Lyndsay Paterek 26:19, Colin Green 29:29

Finally, Dawn Grant, Lindsay Dun and Gina Allen competed in the third leg of the Cheviot Trail Series.

The scenic route followed the St Cuthbert’s Way from Kirk Yetholm to Wooler. After 13 miles of mostly uphill running, with a few marshy areas thrown in, the team was thankful to finish and re-energise with the obligatory post-race coffee and scones.