This year’s renewal incorporated the Scottish Athletics Junior Hill Race Championships, with hill running doyenne and former world champion Angela Mudge in attendance to award the medals, and saw record fields despite the restricted event limit of 100.
The heavy downpours in the week prior to the race had left a few short sections of boggy ground to negotiate (Moorfoot’s David Waldie lost a shoe to the gloop, 600m from the finish) but conditions generally were good on both courses.
These entailed a 3km loop on the western edge of the hill and a 6km figure-of-eight taking in the main summit.
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The 3km race saw great effort put in at the front of the pack by the U15 racers, with the first four runners crossing the line within 15 seconds of each other.
Having made the trip up from North Wales for a second consecutive year, Iwan Thomas (Carmarthen Harriers) took the honours and, with them, the U15 gold medal, coming in with a new record time of 11.44.
Leading the girls home was Cerys Wright (Team East Lothian) who, as an U13, came in ahead of all the U15 girls.
In the process, she too created a new record of 13.38, previously held by Fife’s Isla Hedley who, within the hour, was taking the championship gold medal in the 6km’s U17 age group.
Gala Harrier Kirsty Rankine had an excellent run in her first year in the U15 age group to take championship bronze.
The race information described the 6km race with 275m of climb as ‘enjoyably challenging’. Challenging – yes, but those who were wondering why their calves had melted at the summit may be requesting the deletion of the adverb ‘enjoyably’.
At the start, the tension was high, with the orange start line barely containing the eager younger runners who were contesting the Scottish U17 and U20 hill race championships.
From the word go, they were off at a blistering rate, the ‘more experienced’ runners settling in behind at a more sedate pace, perhaps in the knowledge of what lay ahead.
But the leaders maintained a pace high enough to see the eventual winner and U20 gold medallist, Sam Griffin (Aberdeen AAC), home in the fast time of 25.15.
His comfortable lead on the final approach to the line over Struan Bennet (Fife AC) and Robert Simpson (Shettleston) allowed him to slow to a jog through the finish, only to find he had missed out on a new race record by just one second.
Coming in fourth overall, and less than a minute behind Griffin, was first female Scout Adkin (26), back racing on her home turf and in her Moorfoot colours.
Scout’s junior years were spent training on these very paths and she has been racing particularly well in the fell running scene in the Lake District, where she now lives. It was perhaps no real surprise to see her beat former Scotland Internationalist Catriona Buchanan’s race record. But she didn’t just beat it; she obliterated it by 3 minutes 40 seconds, down to an eye-boggling 26.14.
There were another two bronze medals for Gala Harriers, courtesy of Zico Field in the U17 men’s and Isla Paterson in the U17 women’s championship categories.