Getting around the golf course at Dale usually involves a fairly leisurely stroll, but that will all change when the first Shetland Cross Country athletics championships are staged there on Sunday 7th March.
The organisers, from Shetland Amateur Athletics Club, want to attract as many competitors as possible, with different categories for primary aged children, under-16 girls and boys and over-16 men and women.
The new event follows a host of excellent achievements by Shetland youngsters in cross country competitions on the mainland, with Joshua Morrison, Katie and Bobby Bristow and Lauren Odie and others all doing well in recent years.
The under-16s will tackle a distance of 3,200 metres (just over two miles) at Dale with the older runners going a bit further at 4,500 metres (around three miles).
The race is open to both individuals and teams of five with the three best placed scoring points. Clubs or groups can enter multiple teams if they wish. The entry fee is £1 per runner for under-16 events and £3 for over-16s.
Forms are available from all leisure centres in Shetland, online at the athletics club website at shetlandaac.co.uk and also in all schools around the isles.
One of the organisers, Niall Bristow, said there had been cross country races in the isles before but not on the bigger scale.
He said: “It’s something we felt was missing from the Shetland sporting calendar. There has been a resurgence in road running again but this is something that’s a wee bit different and could appeal to different folk as well.
“The downside to road running is it’s always done in the summer when people are away doing other sports. With this we hope to appeal to footballers, hockey players, etc, anyone who wants to improve their fitness.
“I see a lot of boys running around the town doing their training. They could perhaps get a team together for this. It’s not too far, only three miles.
“We are very grateful and appreciative of the golf club, particularly captain Stuart Fox, for allowing us to use Dale. It’s got the making of an ideal cross country course.”
There will be soup and sandwiches after the competition and medals will be presented to the first three positions in each category and also for the team events.
The race for primary school age children is due to begin at 1pm with the older age groups setting off from 2pm onwards. Entrants will be able to collect their race numbers, which should be displayed on the front of vests and tops, from the registration desk at Dale. Runners are expected to supply their own safety pins!
Mr Bristow said he hoped everyone would come along at around noon or even earlier, so that they could get a proper idea of the course layout.
He also hopes everyone will register by the closing date. “We won’t turn anyone away on the day but it’s much better if we know the exact numbers well in advance.”
The closing date for entry is Friday 5th March and all entry forms should be submitted, along with the appropriate fees (payable to Shetland Amateur Athletics Club), to Paul Woods, 6 Hillside, Gulberwick, ZE1 9JX. He can also be contacted on 07799 567416 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org ? This year’s Shetland Half Marathon will take place on Sunday, 27th June.
The change of date was necessary because the junior inter-county competition takes place on 20th and 21st June.
Apart from the half marathon for individuals and teams there will be a team relay for the first time. This will involve mixed teams of four covering the course from Cunnings-burgh to Lerwick.
The relay will be restricted to 25 teams so interested people may like to start getting their workmates, team-mates and friends sorted out.
Further details of the event and where people can get entry forms will appear soon.