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Deeside runner Kirsty Campbell denied maiden North District hill running title due to forgotten membership fee

Left to right: Ella Foreman, James Espie, Luke Graham, Kirsty Campbell, Eilidh Campbell, Joe Wright who competed at the Meall a'Bhuachaille race at Glenmore
Left to right: Ella Foreman, James Espie, Luke Graham, Kirsty Campbell, Eilidh Campbell, Joe Wright who competed at the Meall a'Bhuachaille race at Glenmore

A personal oversight denied Deeside runner Kirsty Campbell from her first North District hill running title.

The 20-year-old, from Inchmarlo near Banchory, finished third in the women’s division of the Meall a’ Bhuachaille race at Glenmore.

Although the event was open to all-comers, it doubled up as the North championships and only registered members of clubs within the district were eligible for medals.

The two women ahead of Campbell were both from south of the border, Great Britain international Nichola Jackson (Keswick AC) taking top spot ahead of Elsie Butler (Howgill Harriers).

That should have left the Aberdeenshire woman with the district title but instead it went to fourth-placed Kirstie Rogan (Highland Hill Runners).

Campbell explained: “I’d forgotten to pay my scottishathletics membership subscription for the year so I couldn’t be awarded the title. I’d received an email reminder a couple of months ago, but it just slipped my mind.

“To be honest, I was unaware that Meall a’ Bhuachaille was the North championship race this year. It was only when it came to the presentation of prizes that one of my clubmates suggested I’d be getting an award. But then,of course, I didn’t.”

Lockdown efforts pay off

Nevertheless, the outcome didn’t detract from Campbell’s fine performance. Her time of 1hr 17min 45sec for the challenging 13k course, which included 720m of elevation gain, represented a 14 minute improvement on her 2019 result on the same course when she finished 18th.

Campbell said: “It’s one of my favourite hill races. I didn’t have any great expectations beforehand so I was pleased with my run. I knew I was much fitter than in 2019 because at that time I was focussing more on orienteering rather than hill running. I’m also training more consistently now.

“During lockdown I was able to get out running in the hills all the time. I was getting much more running done.”

Campbell has certainly enjoyed a fine spell of form in recent months. In August she was second woman in the Luss Lollipop hill race in Argyll and Bute.

The following month she was again runner-up,this time in the Three Mealls 18k trail race at Kinlochleven. But she took top spot on the podium when winning the Morven hill race at the beginning of October.

The 20-year-old, who is a textile design student at Glasgow School of Art, was then denied another championship medal when competing in the British fell running relays at Tebay in Cumbria.

Athletics: Disappointment as two winter road races cancelled

She joined forces with her sister Eilidh, Ella Foreman, James Espie, Luke Graham and Joe Wright in the Deeside Runners squad which won the mixed relay.

But championship medals were handed out only for the men’s and women’s events.
Campbell said: “We didn’t realise there weren’t medals for the mixed team event, but it was still a good race.

“As it turns out, I shouldn’t have been allowed to run in any case because I hadn’t renewed my scottishathletics membership.

“Overall, it’s just great to be able to compete in races again and I’m really enjoying it.”

Campbell plans to run in Edinburgh’s Braid Hills cross country race later this month before settling into a winter training block ahead of some new challenges in 2022.

She said: “I don’t particularly enjoy cross country so I’d rather get some good training behind me over the next few months.

“I’m considering competing in the Glentress trail marathon in the Borders in February as I’d like to try some longer races.

“I’m also keen to do the Lairig Ghru race again. I did it for the first time this year and finished seventh in just over four hours. I’ll be aiming for under four hours next time.”

Although Campbell is keen to test herself in these longer runs, she still has ambitions over shorter distances.

A Scotland vest is also a target for the not too distant future.

She said: “I still want to do the championship races and the ones which are Scotland selection races. I missed the chance to run in the British championships this year but that’s something I’m aiming for in 2022.

“Scotland usually select a couple of runners in the under-22 age group for this fixture, so that’s what I’ll be targeting.”

Although Campbell missed out on an award at the North District hill running championships, a few of her clubmates did go home with medals from the Meall a’ Bhuachaille North District championship race.

Scotland international James Espie picked up silver behind Lochaber’s Finlay Wild in the men’s competition while Richard Bannister was first in the men’s 40-49 age group and Jane Oliver won the women’s over-60’s title.

Aberdeen’s Veronique Oldham (Cosmic Hillbashers) was third in the women’s competition and won the women’s age 50-59 title.

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