Beth Potter on the podium with Fionnuala Ross (silver, right) and Rosie Smith (left, bronze)
Callendar Park is like Scotland in miniature – and delivers a proper cross country test.
That was National XC on-course commentator Bryan Burnett’s verdict in the countdown to the latest ‘battles of Falkirk’ and he was bang on the money on both counts.
When the final runners came home, including 81-year-old Walter McCaskey of Edinburgh AC, and the individual trophies and teams medals had been handed out, GB internationals Andrew Butchart and Beth Potter each had a second Scottish Senior title wins against their names.
Butchart successfully defended his title while Potter, who also won a clutch of Junior age group medals, added the 2016 crown to her victory back in 2013. In the team races, Central AC celebrated six-in-a-row while Hunter Bog Trotters took the golds in the women’s race.
But there was so much more happening right across a wonderful occasion for the sport as clubs the length and breadth of the country responded in remarkable fashion to the conclusion of the second year of the Lindsays Cross Country Season.
It was a pretty good day for three clubs beginning with the letter F – as Forres Harriers, Fife AC and Falkirk Victoria Harriers savoured great moments on the podium.
Inverclyde AC’s Jonny Glen made it a hat-trick of wins as he won a second U20 title emphatically after winning U17 and U20 gold in the past couple of years.
Fife AC’s Steph Pennycook topped the podium for the first time as she won the U20 gold in the same race in which Anna McFadyen of Forres struck a blow for the north by taking the U17 gold.
Tristan Rees of Fife proved his strength on the hilly sections to take the U17 Men’s title while Lewis Pentecost of Falkirk Vics was a ‘local hero’ as he enjoyed U15 glory on his home course.
Edinburgh AC’s Eloise Walker won the U15 Girls race and the new U13 National XC champions are David Addison of Corstorphine AAC and Lily-Jane Evans-Haggerty of VP-Glasgow.
Butchart – Two-in-a-Row
‘I really enjoyed that today,’ smiled Potter, as she came home well clear of Fionnuala Ross of Shettleston and Rosie Smith of HBT.
‘My coach, Mick Woods, told me to sit-in on the first lap and advised me not to make too much of a break. In the end, that’s exactly what I did! I just got up the first hill, felt pretty good and wanted to keep it going.
‘I did go off quite fast last year but I’d had one or two viruses around that time and been unwell – so I could not follow it through, really.
‘I had run well here in 2013 to win it and I do like Callendar Park. It has been such a good course for me over the years and, in terms of cross country, it just seems to be a place I love compared to one or two others.
‘I’ve had a fair bit of success down the years but every time it feels really special. There was such a big entry this year and it is great to see the Senior Women’s race growing.’
Butchart, of couse, turned down the chance to run in the British Champs at Sheffield and chase possible qualification for the World Indoors in Portland.
‘I’m glad I came here and it is nice to win it for the second time,’ said Andrew, who won in 40.02. GB international hill runner, Andy Douglas (Inverclyde AC) was second in 40.17 with Mark Mitchell of Forres third in 40.45.
‘I wouldn’t say it was a comfortable win but after the first lap I managed to establish a bit of a lead and kept that ticking over thereafter. Not all that many men have won this title on two or more occasions so that means a lot to me, my coach (Derek Easton) and my family.
‘I’m absolutely sure I will come back to try and win more in the future and if the weather is like it was this year then I will be back next year for certain!’
Potter and Butchart both now have Olympic qualification standards on their minds and will soon swap central Scotland for the United States.
Glen – three golds in a row
GB international Glen was favourite at U20 and he duly delivered to win from Euan Gillham (Kilbarchan AAC) and Aidan Thompson (Central AC) – those three having medalled last year.
Pennycook had a significant advantage over her U20 rivals in the combined U20/U17 race with silver headed for Louise Mercer (Edinburgh Uni Hare and Hounds) and bronze to Annabel Simpson (Fife AC). MacFadyen took the U17 gold from Lauren Dickson (Lasswade) and Laura Stark (Kilbarchan)
We will round-up other lower age group medallists and the team medallists in another report in due course.
Many thanks to host club Falkirk Victoria Harriers, the Falkirk Community Trust, the Road Running and Cross Country Commission and all the helpers and volunteers who were on duty at Callendar Park.
Photos by Bobby Gavin