Monday 21st January 2019

Fast & Gruelling Race for Students Across The Country

This year’s Inter-District Cross Country Championships were held on Saturday 12th January on a brand new course at Kings Park and Stirling Golf Course in Stirling.

Although this was the first time in recent years that the event has not been held at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, it was still a jam-packed day, with the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Castle Run and International XC races also taking place alongside the Inter-District Championships.

The Scottish Student squads were competing in the Senior races, against teams from the East, West and North of Scotland, as well as the North of England. With the exception of some hills at the start and finish area, much of the course was set over flat ground. This, combined with a lack of mud, ensured the races would be gruelling and fast! The women were off first on their 6km race, split over four laps. After one lap, the field was already strung out, led by a group of five, including student Mhairi Maclennan (University of Edinburgh). Following a gap was fellow student Rebecca Johnson (University of Edinburgh), and further back a large pack of runners, which included Zoe Bates (University of Aberdeen), Zoe Pflug (University of Edinburgh), Amy Frankland (University of Edinburgh) and Stefanie Tucker (University of Glasgow). The remaining students were not far behind, mixed in with other District runners.

Going onto the third lap, Mhairi took the lead and began to open up a gap on the other leaders. Maintaining her lead for the rest of the race, she went on to take a fantastic win in the Senior women’s race! Next student in was Rebecca Johnson, who had made up ground on the other leaders over a very strong final lap, to finish not far behind in 6th place. Next student in was Zoe Pflug, who had gradually picked off runners to finish high up the field in 12th, as well as 2nd U20. Stefanie Tucker, Amy Frankland and Zoe Bates all came in very close together having battled all the way round, to finish 17th, 20th and 22nd. Combined, their scores led to the Scottish Students winning silver in the team competition! The other students on the squad all performed well in such a high-quality field, with Ali Hunter (University of Aderdeen) next in 33rd. Not far behind her was Lauren McCulloch (University of Stirling) in 37th, then it was a close finish between Clare Stewart (University of Glasgow) and Rebecca Craig (University of Stirling) for 42nd and 43rd. Next in 49th was Katherine-Shiel Rankin (University of Dundee) and finally, having raced round most of the way together, were Emma Gill (University of Edinburgh) and Grace Whelan (University of Aberdeen) in 52nd and 53rd.

Next up were the Men, in what was set to be an equally exciting race! They were to run 8km over two short laps and four long laps, making it great for spectators. It was a fast start, and over the first two short laps the large field was tightly packed together. It was only as they began the long laps that the field began to split up. Leading students were Alexander Chepelin (University of Edinburgh) and Kevin Wood (University of St Andrews) who were sitting comfortably in the top ten. Further back to the middle of the pack, many students were running together, including James Donald (Napier University), Jack Leitch (University of Edinburgh), Alex Carcas (University of Edinburgh) and Lewis Raeburn (City of Glasgow College).

Over the four laps there was a lot of chopping and changing between places, with the students hoping to contest the team competition. At the front of the field, the race was won by Lachlan Oates, representing West District. The first student home was Alexander Chepelin, who had a fantastic last few laps to take 6th place. Kevin Wood was not far behind and finished strongly for 11th. Next was Jack Leitch in 15th and Jonathon Crickmore (Heriot Watt University) who had worked his way up the field to finish inside the top ten in 18th. It was a close fought race between Alex Carcas and James Donald who finished in 24th and 25th. Their efforts helped ensure that the Scottish Students claimed bronze in the team standing! The rest of the students soon followed, with Alex Muir (University of Edinburgh), Eddie Narbett (University of Edinburgh) and Lewis Raeburn (City of Glasgow College) all finishing within five seconds of each other, in 31st, 32nd, and 33rd. Next in 38th was Finlay Todd (University of Glasgow), and then it was another close sprint finish between Callum Tharme (University of Edinburgh) and Lucas Cheskin (Glasgow School of Art) for 44th and 45th. They were followed by Thomas Berry (University of Dundee) who took 50th place.

All students gave fine performances at the first event of 2019, competing against the best athletes in the country. Overall, it was a great day with two very exciting races, and it was fantastic to have students from across ten different institutions selected to compete at the Championships.

Well done to all who ran!