Shetland’s cross country athletes successfully got the 2009/2010 season’s competition under way when they travelled to Loch Ness golf course in Inverness for the North District championships.
The smaller than usual team of four returned with two gold medals and there were two encouraging performances.
The use of a golf course made for an interesting and challenging route with a mixture of soft ground and hard trails qualifying the run as all-terrain. Of course cross country would not be cross country without hills and this course was unusual that instead of the typical small, steep hills it was effectively one half steady incline followed by one half downhill run in loops of just under two miles.
Lauren Odie was first up in the girls’ under-15 category and she made a good start, being well placed after completing the hill on her first loop. By the time she was at the top of the hill in her second loop Lauren had dropped to sixth but she showed courage to maintain her position, closing on her Orcadian opponent. Unfortunately the finishing line came just too soon and she had to settle for sixth place.
Katie Bristow, in the under-17 category, was never in any real danger as she led from start to finish, winning by just over 40 seconds from her nearest challenger. She will hope to build on this confident start for the remainder of the season.
Bobby Bristow and Martyn Stevenson made up the team in the under-17 men’s contest and credit must be paid to Martyn, better known as Shetland’s under-16 football captain, for his efforts in his first cross country race.
Without experiencing distance racing it is very difficult to pace yourself well and fall into the same trap as many others before by starting too quickly. However, Martyn produced a brave run, finishing a very respectable ninth. He will be better placed by the experience for future races. Bobby, on the other hand, was able to use all his experience to pace the race just as he wanted. Just like sister Katie, he controlled the entire race from the front, also winning by 40 seconds.
If the races were not enough, the following day the athletes took part in a rigorous training session under the watchful eye of Scottish national endurance coach Mike Johnston. They returned home with sore legs but confident of what is required for the season ahead.
A team spokesman said he would like to thank Bolts Car Hire and NorthLink Ferries for the generous and considerable support.