Monday 5th November 2018

Scottish Student Cross Country Championships

This year’s SSS Cross Country Championships were held at Balgownie Playing Fields in Aberdeen on Saturday 3rd November 2018.

This year’s Scottish Student Cross Country Championships were held at Balgownie Playing Fields in Aberdeen on Saturday 3rd November 2018. In recent years, the Championships have grown in popularity with entries increasing year on year – 2018 was no exception with a record 182 athletes entered from 14 universities and colleges across Scotland! With top ten spots guaranteeing a place on the Scottish Students Team for the Inter District Championships in January, the event was set to be a competitive one.

While the rain held off, athletes still had to battle with the wind and the undulating course. First off on the 6km course was the Women’s race. A speedy start saw a leading group of about 8 women breaking away from the main pack as they raced around the football pitches. Spectators lost sight of the runners as they headed up a small hill at the top end of the course, but as they re-emerged out of the trees at the bottom again, the leading pack had split up, with Edinburgh University’s Rebecca Johnson creating a small gap over Aberdeen’s Zoe Bates and her fellow Edinburgh team mate Amy Frankland. Not far behind was Zoe Pflug of Edinburgh and Katie Bain of Glasgow University.

Over the second lap, despite the other runners remaining close behind, Rebecca maintained her lead right up to the finish, crossing the line in 24:05. Behind however, Katie had a storming second lap to close down the gap on Amy and Zoe, overtaking them and finishing comfortably in second place, in 24:15. Neck and neck all the way for most of the race, it was a close finish for third, with Zoe (24:21) edging out Amy (24:27) to take the final podium place on her home turf. Not far behind was Edinburgh’s Zoe Pflug, in 24:29.

There was much chopping and changing amongst the rest of the field over the two laps. Emma Gill of Edinburgh had a strong second lap to come through the field for 6th (24:48). She was followed by a tight finish between Glasgow’s Stephanie Tucker (24:54) and Rebecca Craig of Stirling (24:55). Completing the top ten was Ali Hunter of Aberdeen (24:58) and Jess MacLeod representing Glasgow University (25:15).

In the team competition, top ten places for Rebecca, Amy and Zoe helped Edinburgh University to secure the women’s team title again with 10 points. Not far behind was Glasgow University, with Katie, Stephanie and Jess scoring 19 points. Third place was taken by the home club Aberdeen University, with Grace Whelan helping her team mates Zoe and Ali to score 24 points. In total, 60 women completed the challenging course, so well done to all!

Next up was the Men’s race, with over 80 athletes lining up at the start line for the 9km race. As with the women, it was a fast start, with a large number of athletes competing to run at the front of the pack. By the time they had ran up the hill and reappeared out of the trees at the bottom, the field had thinned out, with Tristan Rees of Glasgow University and Kevin Fulton of St Andrews pulling away from the rest of the runners. They were followed by Alexander Chepelin of Edinburgh University, and, following another gap, his team mate Alex Carcas, Heriot Watt’s Jonathon Crickmore, and Stirling athletes Luca Fanottoli and Tom Hug. Edinburgh and Glasgow athletes were also packing well behind, all hoping to contest the team competition.

With the men running three laps, it was all to play for and places changed regularly. Tristan and Kevin battled it out at the front, until with half a lap to go Tristan accelerated to open up a sizeable gap and take a comfortable win in the Men’s Race in 29:32. Meanwhile, Alex Carcas had been moving up the field, overtaking team mate Alexander and then, with just 500m to go, catching Kevin as well, to finish second in 29:48. Kevin finished strongly to complete the top three, in 29:52. Next in was Alexander in 30:11, and Jonathon Crickmore in 5th, in 30:26. Having worked his way up the field over the final lap, Eddie Narbett of Edinburgh University took 6th place (30:33), just ahead of Stirling’s Tom Hug (30:38) and Thomas Berry (30:41), representing Dundee University. Just behind him was another Stirling athlete Luca Fanottoli (30:43), and completing the top ten, from Glasgow University, was Finlay Todd (30:48).In the team competition, Alex Muir helped his Edinburgh University team mates Alex, Alexander and Eddie to a team gold with 23 points. Tristan and Finlay were joined by Anthony Addison and Andrew Merry to take silver for Glasgow University with 53 points. And not far behind in third position was Stirling University, with Hamish Hickey and Lewis McComb joining Tom and Luca on the team to give them 60 points. With wins in both team competitions, Edinburgh University secured the overall title once again, to maintain their dominance on the cross-country scene.

Thank you to Coast Ambulance and Medical, who provided first aid cover on the day – luckily there were no injuries to be reported! Also many thanks to Ross, the President of Aberdeen University Athletics Club, and the rest of the club for hosting the championships and helping to put on such a fantastic event.

Thank you to photographer Dan Smith for capturing the event – his photos will be available through the Scottish Student Sport facebook page later this week.

A huge congratulations to all the students who completed the races at this year’s Cross-Country Championships! Full results can be found HERE