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Athletics: Mhairi Maclennan feels form is returning following Irvine win

Mhairi Maclennan on her way to winning the Scottish Inter District cross country championships at Irvine.
Mhairi Maclennan on her way to winning the Scottish Inter District cross country championships at Irvine.

Mhairi Maclennan was relieved to achieve a confidence-boosting victory in the Scottish Inter District cross country championships at Irvine.

The Edinburgh-based Inverness Harriers club member doesn’t feel she has been firing on all cylinders so far this winter, but her performance in Ayrshire suggests everything is beginning to fall into place again.

She said: “I’ve had some ok races and some bad races this season, but nothing great. I didn’t do too well the previous week when I ran my first indoor race, a 5k at Sheffield.

“But I’ve been feeling a lot stronger in training and I went into the race at Irvine hoping my fitness would finally show.”

It certainly did, as Maclennan took the 7k run by the scruff of the neck, comprehensively getting the better of Central AC’s Morag Millar, who had finished second behind Olympian Laura Muir at the national 4k cross country championships in November.

The Inverness athlete unleashed a powerful final 2k to complete the testing course in 24:30, with Millar 20secs behind. Third-placed Holly Page (Scottish Students) was a further 37sec behind in the bronze medal position.

Maclennan, whose last appearance at Irvine was 10 years ago when she won a Scottish schools title, said: “I wanted to be a bit more confident than the previous week and to have more belief in being able to take control of the race.

“So, I was keen to be at the head of the pack. From early on it was just myself and Morag and we were battling it out for a long way. It was only after about two-thirds of the race that I began to get a gap which I was able to extend to the finish.”

Purcell takes third

Kirsty Purcell (154) .

Aberdeen’s Kirsty Purcell was third in the under-20 age group division when finishing 23rd overall in 27:19, while her twin sister Caitlin was fourth in 27:23.

East Sutherland AC’s Ross Gollan, representing the North, recorded 21:46 to finish fourth in the men’s 7k race won by Dundee Hawkhill’s Great Britain international Kris Jones in 21:16.

Strathpeffer’s Hamish Hickey (Stirling University) was four secs behind Gollan in fifth spot and he helped the Scottish Student representative side win the team gold medals. GB mountain running international Andy Douglas, from Caithness, was ninth in 22:10.

North champion Lois MacRae (Inverness Harriers) won the under-13 girls’ title when completing the 3k course in 11:59 to finish 12secs ahead of Freya Brown (Team East Lothian).

Aberdeenshire runner Millie McClelland-Brooks (Glasgow School of Sport), representing the West, was runner-up behind her team-mate Freya Campbell in the under-15 girls’ 4k.

Campbell won in 15:24, then just three secs separated the next three athletes with McClelland-Brooks clocking 15:44, East’s Orlaith Shepherd 15:45 and North champion Abbie Stewart (Stornoway) placing fourth, 15:47.

Aberdeen AAC’s Rhys Crawford missed out an individual medal in the under-15 boys’ 4k when finishing fourth in 13:57, but he helped East win the team competition. West’s Craig Shennan was the individual winner in 13:23.

Double success for Scottish champion Allan Hamilton

Edinburgh AC’s three-time Scottish champion Allan Hamilton scored a double 60m success in the Aberdeen open graded indoor meeting.

The Scotland international, who is to bid for more success in next weekend’s national championships at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, won his first heat in a season’s best of 6.77secs, before taking top spot in the second heat in 6.81.

Aberdeen AAC’s Struan Linton, who clocked a personal best 6.97 in December, finished second behind Hamilton in heat one with 7.02.

Struan Linton.

The local runner pulled up halfway through the second heat, taking the cautious decision to pull out after feeling tightness in his hips.

Another Aberdeen sprinter, David Irvine, set a PB 7.06 behind Hamilton in the second heat after recording 7.25 in the opening race.

Rebecca Matheson (Aberdeen AAC) gave her Scottish championship prospects a boost by recording a 60m PB of 7.60. It was the quickest women’s time of the day ahead of Orkney’s Scottish outdoor 200m champion Taylah Spence, who recorded 7.76 in the first race, before going on to notch a PB 7.71 in the second run.

Matheson’s clubmate Rhia Badial was third fastest when twice recording PBs of 7.80.

Jane Davidson (Aberdeen AAC) won the long jump with a best clearance of 4.92m.

In the younger age groups, Scottish champion Holly Whitaker enjoyed a hat-trick of victories at under-15 level.

The Elgin AAC youngster won the long jump (4.78), 60m (8.29) and 60m hurdles (9.99).

Meanwhile, Kemnay athlete Alix Still opened her winter season at the Virginia Tech indoor invitational meeting at Blacksburg.

The University of Virginia student, who is aiming for Commonwealth Games selection in the heptathlon this year, cleared 5.55m in the long jump and 8.86secs in the 60m hurdles.

Griffin in record-setting form at Aberdeen parkrun

Scottish under-20 hill running champion Sam Griffin showed excellent form to set an age group record time in the Aberdeen parkrun 5k.

The Aberdeen AAC teenager led home a field of 436 participants in a time of 15min 28sec – the quickest ever recorded in the 15-17 age division on the beach promenade course.

It’s also the fifth fastest performance by anyone of any age in the 476 parkruns held in Aberdeen since the first event in 2011.

On top of this, it was the fifth fastest time set from more than 600 parkruns held throughout the UK over the weekend.

Metro Aberdeen’s Martin Mueller also recorded a personal best, 16:02, when finishing second, while the first woman, Emma Jenkins, achieved her best time of 19:52.

Meanwhile, damage caused by November’s Storm Arwen has forced North cross country league organisers to relocate next weekend’s fixture from Mintlaw to Lyne of Skene.

The match was originally scheduled to be organised by Peterhead AC at Aden Country Park. But, as there is some uncertainty over when fallen trees might be cleared from the area, it has been decided to move the event to another Aberdeenshire venue.

Now, Insch Trail Running Club is to host the races for the first time at Lyne of Skene. Ironically, the Insch club was originally scheduled to host a North league meeting on the weekend that Storm Arwen struck, but the event had to be cancelled because of safety concerns.