Cross country running was back on the local sporting calendar when Dale golf course welcomed the Shetland championships for the first time on Sunday.
The weather was near perfect and although the rapid thaw had left the course soft in places, the competitors were sure to have an enjoyable run.
The first race of the day was the combined primary 6-7 boys and girls’ event and what a thrilling race was had. Entering the home straight primary seven girl Cara Steven from Dunrossness and primary six boy Kieran Glaser from Sound were neck and neck. With determination etched across their faces, neither would give an inch as they sprinted for the line.
Thankfully for the officials both runners would win their respective categories as it would have taken a photo finish to separate the two. The official time for the winners was recorded as an outstanding eight minutes 18 seconds for what can only be described as a challenging one-mile course.
With Kieran winning gold for the primary six boys, fellow Sound pupils Liam Fraser took silver (eight minutes 48 seconds) and Erland Woods bronze (10 minutes eight seconds). Sound won the team gold with Sandwick taking team silver, thanks to James Bell (10 minutes 45 seconds) and Aiden Grogan (10 minutes 50 seconds).
The primary seven boys’ race was won by Reece Thorne in nine minutes seven seconds with Dylan Mckay only one second behind. With both boys from Brae they also took home the team gold.
Special mention must be made to Cara Steven and Julia Priest (Sound). As the only girls in the field they more than held their own against the boys, Julia winning the primary six girls’ gold with an excellent time of 10 minutes seven seconds.
Organiser Niall Bristow said: “All the youngsters should be proud of their efforts and thanks to the schools who participated. Hopefully in the future other schools will become involved. The bigger the fields the more enjoyment for the athletes.”
The under-16 category was also short on numbers but not on quality. The Farmer twins, James and Stuart, were quick out the blocks and along with the only girl, Lauren Odie, made the early running. They were soon joined by Jonathan Adam and despite unintentionally adding an additional part to the first loop, the three boys started to pull away.
The second half of the race saw Jonathan produce an impressive example of front running to win gold, completing the two-mile course in 15 minutes 23 seconds. Stuart was second in 15 minutes 39 seconds and James third in 16 minutes three seconds, just holding off the fast finishing Eoin Leask (16 minutes 13 seconds). Along with Jonathan, Stuart and James, David Malcolmson and Aaron Smith won team gold for Cunningsburgh.
The final race was the combined seniors 2.8 mile race. A healthy field of 32 competitors, many trying cross country for the first time, eagerly made their way to the starting line no doubt with a mixture of excite-ment and trepidation. Immediately the two most experienced cross country runners, Joshua Morrison and Bobby Bristow, set the pace at the front with Russell Gair and Neil Arthur following close behind. Joshua and Bobby gradually moved away from the chasing pack with the leader’s position continually changing hands as neither was able to break the other.
Elsewhere Russell, Neil and the first of the triathletes, Robin Atkinson were easing clear of the other runners. Into the final mile and with the effort starting to tell on the last of the uphill sections, the first woman, Katie Bristow was already putting distance between herself and nearest challenger Lynsey Henderson, as well as pulling clear of some decent male athletes.
Meanwhile, back at the front, the Shetland male champion for 2010 was destined to be decided by a sprint finish. With 100 yards to go Joshua hit the front. His greater finishing speed carried him to the line for gold but Bobby’s brave effort, not allowing any gap to develop, saw the winning margin a mere 0.2 of a second.
Joshua’s time of 16 minute 55.3 seconds to Bobby’s 16 minutes 55.5 seconds. A magnificent race by both. Russell came through strongly for bronze in 18 minutes 30 seconds with Neil in 18 minutes 41 seconds and Robin in 18 minutes 44 seconds.
The team gold went to Russell, Neil and Karl Williamson, as the uniquely titled Sag’s Piltock Warriors. Joshua led home his team of James Aitken, Jordan Morrison, Jack Howarth and evergreen Martin Leyland for silver and Triathlon Club team 1 secured bronze in a very competitive section thanks to Robin, Andrew Grant and John William Simpson.
Katie won the female championship, finishing 10th overall in 19 minutes 40 seconds with Lynsey comfortably second (14th overall) in a great time of 21 minutes eight seconds.
More renowned for her sprinting, Megan Smith showed very good endurance to win the individual bronze in 24 minutes four seconds. Team gold for the women went to Katie, Megan, Allie Elphinstone, Sophie Kelman and Eilidh Peterson. Full results can be found on www.shetlandaac.co.uk Bristow added: “Special thanks must go to all who made this a very successful day, particularly Shetland Golf Club for their hospitality, soup and sandwich providers, marshals, officials, result analysts and all competitors and supporters. We are already looking forward to a bigger event next year.”