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Athletics: Aberdeen student Tom Graham-Marr records rapid leg to help team to Scottish road relay title

Aberdeen University student Tom Graham-Marr
Aberdeen University student Tom Graham-Marr

Aberdeen University student Tom Graham-Marr recorded the quickest short leg time of the day, 15min 4secs, when helping Central AC win the men’s six-stage title in the Scottish road relay championships at Livingston.

Strathpeffer athlete Hamish Hickey was also in the successful Central team, the Stirling University student clocking the second-best long stage time of 29:20, bettered only by his clubmate Jamie Crowe, who zipped round the course in 28:46.

The Aberdeen AAC team of Myles Edwards, Michael Ferguson, Eoghan MacNamara, Adam Brown, Michael Kilbride and Steven Murray, finished eighth. Edwards had the second-best short stage time of 15:08.

Metro Aberdeen’s Paul Knight, Allan Christie, Kenny Garden, Martin Mueller, Jotda Cruickshank and Will Mackay finished 12th.

Edinburgh University lifted the women’s four-stage title, while Aberdeen AAC’s team of Caitlin Purcell, Kirsty Purcell, Hannah Mutch and Zoe Bates took sixth spot.

Elsewhere, Aberdeen’s Fraser Gormley recorded 38min to score a six secs victory over Martin Burns, while Martin Dickie was third (39:32), in the seventh Newburgh Beach Bash 10k. A field of 262 competitors tackled the coastal course, which included long and testing stretches along the beach.

Burns must be wondering what more he needs to do to lift the title. He has now finished runner-up twice and has been third on four other occasions, but at least took some consolation by being first in the over-40 age group for the second time.

Emma Watt (JS Kintore) completed her preparations for next weekend’s Manchester marathon by winning the women’s division of the race when finishing eighth overall.

The Glen Clova half marathon winner, who won in 2019 and was runner-up in 2020, completed the course in 41:29.

Elina Zalkalne was second in 44:33, while Jenni Rees-Jenkins (Insch Trail Running Club), who won the women’s title at the inaugural race in 2015 and was runner-up behind Watt in 2019, finished third in 45:31.

Meanwhile, Ross County AC’s Caitlyn Heggie finished 14th when representing Scotland in the schools international cross country match at Pembrey Country Park, South Wales.

The Dingwall Academy pupil, who won the Scottish under-15 road running title the previous weekend, completed the intermediate girls’ 4k  in 16:17. England’s Innes Fitzgerald won in 14:41.

Aberdeenshire’s Millie McClelland-Brooks (Glasgow School of Sport) was three secs  behind Heggie in 15th position.

Stornoway’s Abbie Stewart  was 25th in the junior girls’ 3k, clocking 12:28, while England’s Shaikira King won in 11:33.

Sean Chalmers (Inverness Harriers) finished seventh when representing Scotland in the Cardiff half marathon. Kadar Omar (Birchfield Harriers) won in 1:02:46, while Chalmers recorded 1:06:34.

James Wilson (Moray Road Runners) was a clear winner of the Moray 10k at Miltonduff when recording 32:00 to finish 27secs ahead of his clubmate Ewan Davidson.

Michelle Slater (Moray Road Runners) won the women’s race in 41:40, with Joanna Bisset (Metro Aberdeen) second in 42:45.

Kemnay’s Still makes good start to outdoor season she hopes will include Commonwealth spot

US-based north east athlete Alix Still has set out a hectic schedule in her quest for a place on the Scotland team for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The 22-year-old, from Kemnay, is currently studying at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and over the past couple of years she has established herself as one of Scotland’s brightest multi-events athletes and has high hopes of representing her country in the heptathlon in Birmingham.

Still enjoyed a successful indoor season in which she consolidated second position on the Scottish all-time best performers list for the indoor pentathlon with a personal best score of 3978.

Now she’s aiming for the heptathlon qualifying mark of 5564. Her best is currently 5371.

Still recently made a promising start to the outdoor season, clearing a personal best 6.14m for the long jump. She actually jumped further, hitting 6.17, but the wind speed of 3.8m/sec was in excess of the legal limit. Still’s legal performance is the 10th best of all-time by a Scot.

Alix Still.

Now she’s planning her competition strategy for the next few months. which she hopes will take her to Birmingham.

Still said: “It’s likely my first heptathlon will be at the Virginia Challenge on April 22-23, but it’s the Duke meet in North Carolina on May 12-14 that I’ll be really trying to get the Commonwealth standard.

“I’d then like to do the National College championships in Oregon in June, but if I don’t qualify for that I’ll look for one more heptathlon before the Commonwealth Games, so I may come back to the UK then.”

Strong field for Run Balmoral

Scotland internationals Andy Douglas (Inverclyde AC), Sean Chalmers (Inverness Harriers), Lachlan Oates (Shettleston Harriers) and Naomi Lang (Aberdeen AAC) head a list of close to 5,000 runners who have signed up for next month’s Run Balmoral festival of running, entries for which close on Thursday (March 31).

The Deeside event, now in its 23rd year, hasn’t been held since 2019 because of the pandemic, but has retained its popularity – and will once again be the biggest participation sporting event in the north-east.

Douglas, who comes from Halkirk in Caithness but is based in Edinburgh, is one of the world’s top mountain runners and has been a regular member of Great Britain teams over the past eight years. He has twice won the World Mountain Running World Cup race series, but has also been a regular performer at Balmoral.

He holds the course record for the Bristow 15-mile trail race and next month will bid for a third win in this event, which has attracted a sell-out field of 700 competitors. He has also won the Stena Drilling 10k on three occasions.

Chalmers, Oates and Lang will all compete in the harbour Energy 5k in which both the men’s and women’s records could be under threat.

Moray’s Kenny Wilson holds the men’s mark of 14min 42secs, achieved in 2018, while Rhona Auckland (Banchory Stonehaven AC) set the women’s standard of 15:55 in 2014.

The toughest event on the Run Balmoral programme is the Repsol Sinopec Devil of Deeside Challenge in which competitors tackle the 5k, 10k, and 15-mile races as well as the Apollo duathlon. The man and woman with the fastest aggregate times are crowned champions.

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