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Connor Competes on Biggest UK Stage!

Start of the race
Start of the race

Full Results

Following a highly successful winter, Connor MacLean was selected for the UK’s premier cross country event! The English Inter Counties Championship which invites the top runners from each English county and those chosen from the regional and district teams from Wales, Ireland and Scotland!

Connor lined up in the boys under 15, 4.5KM in the team vest of Scotland North among a field of close to three hundred runners! A far cry from the twenty or thirty runners at the local races that have been his “bread and butter” events in the lead up to this massive event.

Another notable factor for Connor on the day was the spectating crowd around the course, somewhere in the region of 7 – 10,000! Yet again a very different situation to the Lews Castle Grounds events, but what a fabulous experience!

View of Venue
View of Venue

Luckily for those of us unable to go to the event it was televised on Sky Sports 3 and we witnessed a confident performance of the young island runner on the biggest of UK running stages. For any SRAC member watching there’s was no problem finding Connor in the unmistakable red tartan club shorts! However anyone scanning the 300 line up unable to find him didn’t have to wait long after the starter’s pistol being fired to see Connor head straight to the front of the pack!

Commentator for the race was former CEO at Scottish Athletics Geoff Whiteman who has visited the island and is familiar with the work of the club. Geoff was quick to recognise the young island athlete and gave full account of the journey involved between Sy and Birmingham to the viewers. A nice wee bit of P.R. for Stornoway!

Geoff named some of the small lead pack which included the English champion Daniel Evans and frantically looked for Connor’s only conqueror this year, UK champion Josh Kerr who tops the McCain UK challenge. But suggested he’d perhaps opted to run the Scottish School championships being staged (insanely) on the same day!

Connor leads the chasing pack
Connor leads the chasing pack

Connor set the pace for the first kilometre and was being closely followed by the eventual race winner Daniel Evans of Cheshire. Into the 2nd Kilometre Evans made a move to the front and really stepped up the pace. There after it was a matter of sorting out the minor medals involving a good number of athletes.

Connor running through the mud
Connor running through the mud

The effect of the early pace on a real heavily mudded undulating course hit Connor’s leg strength and he fluctuated between 4th and 6th place for a large portion of the race. But in the final 500meters Connor was slowing and the field behind started moving by him. His final placing can not be understated at 13th because of the quality and size of the field. Connor finished in 16 minutes 38 seconds with the fourth placed runner only 16 seconds ahead. Evans won in 16:02.

Connor’s SRAC coaches commented. “Getting chosen for such an event demonstrates Connor’s ability and taking the race on so early was characteristically bold. Perhaps not ideal, but he was looking for a marker in Josh Kerr who unfortunately had an off day and finished further down the field. There are others throughout the islands similarly able to run at this level but what makes the difference is application and he does apply himself. This was a huge result and we look forward to further success in the future!”

SRAC wish to thank the Lewis and Harris Sports Council for their support in getting Connor to Birmingham’s Cofton Park for the Inter Counties.

A. Tupper