As a first timer to this cross-country stuff, I can’t say I was all that into it on Sunday morning. Having the day before trudged 16km over wet and boggy fields in Manor Water, the idea of trying to drag myself through 4km of the wet and boggy Hamilton Park Racecourse did not sound up my street. Throw into the mix that the XC apparently brought out guys that could actually run fast (ie not me) and I was actually expecting a bit of a humbling.
I won’t concentrate too much on the girl’s event although special mention goes to the Masters team who took home 1st place. By all means, both teams had a stormer and will be covered by someone else far more articulate than me. Truth be told I was put on leg 1 and was, therefore, getting into the so-called ‘zone’ whilst the girls were running, although most of the time was spent debating with myself whether in fact the roll and 2 lorne sausage that Ally had opted for would see me through the race. In the end, I went for the banana although I felt I would live to regret the decision and all the energy that would have come with said roll.
Now to the real event Westies Mens Seniors vs Westies Mens Vets (or should I say, Masters). The talk of Hamilton leading up to the day was centred around whether the youth and raw speed of the seniors would be enough to see off the experience and canniness of the masters. Come race-time it was too close to call and the atmosphere hanging around the Westies tent (soon to upgraded to gazebo) could be cut with a knife.
So here it was- the 13:40 at Hamilton. Going- good to soft.
Leg 1 saw myself face off against Dave Calder in the mass start. The gun fired and surprisingly enough various teams took a commanding lead (Kilbarchan and some club called Shettleston) over the two Westies contingent. I’d put this down to the fact that I was keeping an eye on Dave and didn’t want to light my matches too soon and come 1000m I had a small lead. The next 2000m were pure purgatory as I felt the effects of a sprightly start coming back to bite. I did, however, manage to hold it together over the last 1000m to give the seniors a slender lead going into leg 2. I then proceeded to roll about in the mud in exhaustion as though I had just won the Olympic 5000m or likewise rather than the reality of coming in 50th or thereabouts in a regional XC event.
Leg 2 saw another close one with Ally MacInnes taking on Ian Thurlbeck. Having not seen the duel (still probably rolling around in the mud), the last 300m had Ally powering back in being chased by Ian with all the grace of a gazelle. Solid and impressive runs by both.
Leg 3 saw Chris McKiddie taking a near 30s lead onto the start line against Gordon McCaffrey. All those consecutive running days along with an extra-large bowl of porridge must have fired Gordon up as he laid down a blistering last 300m to close the gap to a mere 20 or so seconds leading into the final and decisive leg 4.
All the talk had this down as a sure-fire win for the seniors. Don Reid against JQ and to anyone watching it, the writing was on the wall for the masters. Before the race had mutterings of a cold and not feeling on top form, but surely the was gamesmanship? He would have enough hold on and humiliate the masters team to a convincing beating.
Well, all seemed to be going to script as Don approached the last 300m, looking tired but solid. But what, who was the runner in yellow bib some 100m further back? No, surely not, it couldn’t be…
JQ like a man possessed comes charging through, passing Don with a mere 150m to go. From there on he just lit the burners and left everyone around him in his shadow as he even managed to pose for photos crossing the line.
So that was that. Masters in front for only 150m of the entire race, but that earlier mentioned experience and canniness were on full show as they were the 150m that mattered. Consigning the seniors to a commiserating loss and one that will no doubt leave deep, lasting wounds for all members. I know I certainly won’t be sleeping tonight…
Enthralling start to the XC season, nail-biting from start to finish. Who mentioned taking the “Cross Country” out of the club name???