The National Cross Country Championships took place on Saturday 25 February at Callendar Park, Falkirk. There had been adverse weather conditions in the lead up to the race and the event was under threat of cancellation. Fortunately, however it went ahead in extremely wet and muddy conditions.
The first race of the day was the under 13 boys and Lasswade AC had six athletes competing, Harry Henriksen, Dexter Howard, Alastair Scott, Matthew Cartledge, Cameron Dickson and Rory Fletcher. Harry Henriksen already the East District and Inter District cross country champion was the pre-race favourite having won all seven of his races this winter. There were some pre race nerves but Harry got off to a good start working his way to the front of the field of 170 runners. Harry looking comfortable in difficult conditions used his strength to gradually build up a lead over the chasing runners to win by eleven seconds and add the National Cross Country title to his growing collection.
In the U17 women we had three runners, Lauren Dickson, Ailsa Innes and Eilidh Brown. This race had a quality field with any one of six or seven athletes, including Lauren Dickson who had finished runner up last year, capable of winning the title. The race went as expected with pre race favourite Erin Wallace of Giffnock taking it on and trying to establish an early lead, however she was not going to get it all her own way as a pack of about six runners formed on the first large lap. The pack included Lauren Dickson (Lasswade AC) Naomi Lang (Aberdeen) Clare Stewart (Banchory) and Kate Gallacher (Central). Small gaps started to open towards the end of the first lap where Erin and Naomi began to get away from the other runners with Lauren sitting in fourth place just behind Clare Stewart. Lauren fighting all the way to the end finished just outside the medals in fourth place. Team mates Ailsa Innes finished 23rd with Eilidh Brown 33rd. Unfortunately, the girls team also finished just outside the medals in 4th place missing out on a bronze by three points!
The under 17 men were running two laps, one large and one medium. Lasswade had five runners, Magnus Tait, Christian Graham, Euan Hood, Jamie Darling and Daniel Kelly. Magnus led the boy’s home with a strong run finishing in 20th place. The fast improving Christian Graham running his first National cross country was 32nd, followed by Euan Hood 56th, Jamie darling 69th and Daniel Kelly 76th.
In the under 13 girls and under 15 girls we had one runner in each race with Fiona Eades (U13) running well to finish 138th and the consistently improving Abby McGlone (U15) in 48th place.
We also had one runner in the under 15 boys, Jamie Kinghorn who had a solid run in 92nd place.
The action at this event is thick and fast with one race quickly following another we had now reached the stage of the day where there were only a couple of races remaining.
In the women’s race we only had one athlete running, Daniella Coutto who unfortunately had to pull out after the first lap injured. However it was good to see a former Lasswade AC athlete, Olympian and six time previous winner of the National cross country, Freya Ross, running and still finishing inside the top 30.
The final event was the senior men with by far the biggest field of the day with 647 finishers. There were eight Lasswade athletes running and they were as follows, Ross Matheson, Scott Thomson, Andrew McGlone, Peter Ness, Scott Dickson, Dave Scott, Ben Mitchell and Stephen Brown.
I was looking forward to this race as not only was Olympian Callum Hawkins competing but our own Ross Matheson was running his first senior national, a former U17 and U20 National XC winner having missed a few seasons was back running and seemed quietly confident. We also had a new athlete running for us today, Scott Thomson so I was also looking forward to seeing him run.
As the race got underway, a spectacle in itself, Callum Hawkins made it clear he was out for a hard run hitting the front early and remaining there to the finish. A little further back Ross was looking good sitting fairly high up the field just outside the top 10 with Scott a bit further back in around 50th place. Over the next two laps both managed to pass another few runners with Ross finishing inside the top 10 in 8th and Scott just outside the top 40 in 42nd.
All in all, a great days racing for the club’s distance runners.