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Athletics: Inverness success at Scottish cross country championships, as Megan Keith wins women’s title and Harriers take girls’ gold

Megan Keith. Image: Bobby Gavin
Megan Keith. Image: Bobby Gavin

Inverness athlete Megan Keith made an impressive debut for Edinburgh University by propelling the student team to victory in the senior women’s race at the Scottish cross country relay championships.

The Great Britain junior international sprinted round the 4k course at Scone Palace, on the outskirts of Perth, in 12min 47secs, to claim the fastest individual lap time of the day.

Hannah Anderson, Katie Lowry and Holly Page worked up through the field to set Keith off in second position at the start of the final leg with a deficit of more than 100 metres to make up on Fife AC’s Sheena Logan.

Keith rapidly closed the gap and went on to bring Edinburgh home with 87secs to spare.

She said: “I was maybe 20secs behind at the start of my leg and I set off a bit too quickly as the adrenaline was flowing. But I enjoyed it – the course was excellent with a good mix of flat running, hills and mud.”

Another Highland athlete, Strathpeffer’s Hamish Hickey, helped Central AC win the men’s title.

The Stirling University student was second on the opening leg, then Ben MacMillan put his side into a lead which was consolidated by Olympian Andy Butchart, before Jamie Crowe secured the win.

Aberdeen AAC flirted with a medal position in the second half of the race, but eventually had to settle for fifth position in a time of 48:27.

The city club has never won the title in the 47-year history of the competition, but has won silver on three occasions – 1979-1980, 1981-1982 and 2017-2018.

Myles Edwards gave the north-east side a solid start when completing the first leg in 11:49 for sixth position. Aaron Odentz dropped one place with a time of 12:25, before a blistering performance from Michael Ferguson, who clocked 11:39, brought the team up into second spot. Fearghas Thomson, 12:33, battled well on the final leg, but slipped back into fifth.

Inverness Harriers struck gold in the girls’ relay for the first time in the club’s history.

Lois Macrae took the lead on the opening leg and the advantage was comfortably maintained by Katie Meek and Anna Cairns to give the Highland side victory in a combined time of 29:56. Team Lothian finished 12secs behind, while Giffnock North took the bronze medals in 30:26.

Inverness Harriers’ winning girls team at the Scottish cross country relay championships. 

Aberdeen AAC finished outside the medal positions in the boys’ relay, despite a spirited performance from Hamish McKay on the final leg.

Alex Henthorn came through in 29th position on the opening circuit then Rhys Crawford raised the team into 12th spot by the end of the second stage.

Mckay set off in hot pursuit of his rivals and pulled through to fifth position by covering the 2.5k lap in 8:23, one of the quickest times of the day in his age group.

Robbie Simpson disappointed after ‘really tricky’ French outing

An exhausted Robbie Simpson admits to feeling a degree of frustration after finishing seventh in the Grand Trail Des Templiers 80k.

The Deeside runner completed the prestigious French race in 7hr 12min 28secs, while fellow Great Britain international Jon Albon romped to victory in 6:32:19.

Simpson, the 2018 Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist, has competed over this distance just once before, in California two years ago, and admits it was a sobering experience.

Robbie Simpson.

He said: “I’m still not very experienced at this sort of distance and it was difficult not being familiar with the course.

“It was really tricky. There were some fast sections early on, but that was when we were running as a group in the dark.

“But there were many difficult parts where it was just impossible to get into a rhythm. The paths were so narrow between rocks that there was barely room to place your feet.

“I kept getting caught on tree branches and tripping on stones. It was like that for so long, it just tired me out so much.

“Between 40 and 50k, I wasted so much energy as I was winding through undergrowth. It was like a scrubland and it was exhausting going from side to side and hopping over obstacles.

“The final downhill was so steep but it wasn’t even all downhill. It was a really narrow path with a series of switchbacks, but at every switchback you’d start climbing again very steeply. It wasn’t really like a race.”

It obviously wasn’t a good day at the office for the Banchory runner, who now plans a temporary break from ultra running.

He said: “I’m looking forward to getting back to some 10k and half marathon work. Hopefully I’ll get a bit more pace into my legs.”

Finlay Wild wins hill race at Glenmore

Lochaber’s Finlay Wild continued his recent spate of record-breaking performances when picking up the North District hill running title with victory in the Meall a`Bhuachaille race at Glenmore.

The Fort William athlete became the first man to break the one hour barrier for the 13k course, which includes 720m of climbing, by clocking 59min 53sec.

This is his fourth win in six years and marked an improvement of seven secs on the previous record he set in 2019.

Wild had also shown fine form earlier in the month when winning the Scottish championship race at Cioch Mhor, Dingwall, when he broke the course record he had set in 2013.

English fell running champion Billy Cartwright (Matlock AC) took second position at Glenmore in 1:02:38, with Irishman Eoin Lennon (Carnethy) finishing third in 1:03:03. Scotland international James Espie (Deeside Runners) was fourth in 1:03:22.

Highland Hill Runners won the men’s team title through Robin Howie, eighth, Ally Beaven, 11th, and Gavin Whiteside, 32nd.

Great Britain mountain running international Nichola Jackson (Keswick AC) won the women’s race by finishing 27secs ahead of Elsie Butler (Howgill Harriers) in 1:13:54.

Morven hill race winner Kirsty Campbell (Deeside Runners) was third in 1:17:45 and Kirstie Rogan (Highland Hill Runners) took fourth spot, and North District gold, in 1:19:53. Former world champion Angela Mudge (Carnethy) was fifth, first in the over-50 age group, 1:21:51.

Rogan also led Highland Hill Runners to another team title, with Caroline Marwick and Monica Padilla completing the scoring.