Emma Murray played a key role as JS Kintore Running Club made history at the North District cross country relay championships when winning the women’s 3x4k title for the first time.
The Aberdeenshire side led all the way around the grassland course at Nairn Links to finish ahead of Moray Road Runners and Forres Harriers.
Murray, who had placed sixth in the Loch Ness marathon just six days earlier, brought the Kintore side home on the final leg after Tammy Wilson and Linda Beaton established a commanding lead over their rivals. Wilson recorded the fastest individual lap time of the day – 14min 7sec.
Murray said: “We are delighted with the win. I think everyone was a little shocked that we won, but hopefully we’ve made our mark as a club in this type of competition.
“Tammy gave us the lead on the first leg and Linda held onto it before I took over. I kept checking how close the next runner was to me, but in the end we were well clear.
“My legs felt fine, despite doing the marathon. Cross country is tough and I doubt if I would have felt any different had I not run last week.”
Scotland international Kenny Wilson (Moray Road Runners) showed he’d recovered well from the previous weekend’s London marathon, where he finished 20th, to give his side a healthy lead on the opening leg of the men’s relay.
His time of 11:20 was joint fastest of the day with Max Abernethy, who led Fraserburgh Running Club to fourth position.
Wilson’s brother James, along with Gareth Jenkins and Ewan Davidson, battled well on the subsequent stages, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Inverness Harriers from powering through to take the gold medals through the efforts of John Newsom, Lucas Cairns, Stuart Gardiner and Luke Davidson.
East Sutherland AC took the bronze medals.
Ross County broke the five-year grip Inverness Harriers held on the boys’ title by scoring an emphatic victory over the holders.
Callum Duffy, Andrew Baird and Ruairidh Ellen led from start-to-finish in the 3x 2.5k race in which Baird clocked the fastest individual time of the day, 8:23. It was County’s first win since season 1989-1990 when the club was known as Black Isle AC.
Inverness Harriers carried on from where they left off when the championships were last held, in 2019, by winning the girls’ 3×2.5k relay.
Lois MacRae gave them the lead on the opening leg, Katie Meek consolidated it on the second stage and Anna Cairns secured victory with a solid performance on the final circuit.
The Inverness B team of Isla Burns, Kirstin Burnett and Mara Duffy took silver after a keen tussle with Ross County AC. Burnett’s time of 9min 15secs on the second leg was the quickest of the day.
Ross County, represented by Flora Sutherland, Caitlyn Heggie and Emily Bell, were third.
East District bronze for Aberdeen AAC men
Aberdeen AAC picked up bronze medals in the East District cross country championships senior men’s race at Galashiels, while Central AC won the title for the 14th time in 17 seasons.
Aaron Odentz got Aberdeen off to a solid start when finishing sixth on the first of the 4k laps.
Myles Edwards then lifted the Aberdeen side into fourth and set up Michael Ferguson to move through to third, before Fearghas Thomson consolidated the podium position on the final circuit.
Meanwhile, Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) struck gold in the scottishathletics hill running championships when winning the Alex Brett Cioch Mor race at Dingwall.
The Fort William athlete finished ahead of Alasdair Campbell (Cambuslang Harriers), while Bennachie hill race champion Robin Howie (Highland Hill Runners) was third.
Heather Anderson (Fife AC) won the women’s race in which Kirstie Rogan (Highland Hill Runners) was second and Alice Goodall (Edinburgh AC) third.
Meanwhile, Metro Aberdeen’s Ginie Barrand made an impressive 26.2 mile debut when recording 2hr 49min 44secs to finish fifth in the women’s division of the Manchester marathon.
Her clubmate Claire Bruce slashed close to 18min off her previous best time when finishing sixth in 2:53:32.
And Aberdeen-born Shona Crombie-Hicks (Tewkesbury Running Club) was first in the over-50 age group, eighth overall, in 2:58:25.
Elsewhere, Elgin’s Grant Jeans led from the start to win the Glasgow to Edinburgh race in a course record of 7h 15m 32s.
Despite two marathons in two weeks, Allan wins Bennachie ultra
Allan Christie showed remarkable powers of recovery to win the Bennachie ultra trail 50k race, despite having run his two fastest marathons over the previous fortnight.
The Metro Aberdeen runner completed the Bennachie course in 4hr 13min 35secs to finish well ahead of his clubmate Jonathan Gamble, 4:18:25, and third-placed Brian Sharp, 4:18:50.
Christie had set a marathon PB of 2:31:15 at Berlin two weeks earlier before recording 2:36:01 at London seven days later.
Pre-race favourite Jason Kelly (Metro Aberdeen), who may have still been feeling the effects of finishing second when representing Scotland in the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k seven weeks earlier, pulled out shortly after the halfway point while sharing the lead with Christie.
It was Christie’s second appearance in the race, having finished third behind Robbie Simpson and Kelly at Bennachie in 2020, but he was surprised to find himself at the head of the field on this occasion.
He said: “I didn’t intend to do it, but it’s a nice race and, as I was feeling OK after the two marathons, I decided to have a pop at it.
“I was surprised when Jason pulled out and I found myself in the lead. I felt a bit of pressure then and, although I struggled towards the end, I was able to hang on.
Newmachar’s Jana Vidis won the women’s race in 5:19:10, with Emma Roberts taking second position in 5:30:53, while Chloe Sangster (Metro Aberdeen) was third in 5:34:09.
Vidis, who is from Slovakia, but has lived in Scotland for the past 10 years, was happy with the outcome.
She said: “It’s my first ultra distance race win so I am really chuffed.”