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SRAC Open Winter Season in Nairn

North District Relay Photos - Full Results Spreadsheet - NDXC Archive

SRAC travelled to Nairn for their opening foray into this winters cross country season to compete in the North District Cross Country Championship Team Relays. Despite a lot of “call off’s”, due to injuries, holidays and much more Stornoway were able to field team’s in all but one event. Club captain Willie MacRury’s long list of reserves were “called in” which enabled Stornoway to field three men’s teams, two junior male teams and for the first time in some years (possibly ever) a senior ladies team!

SRAC’S Junior Boys, Ladies and Mens Teams (and booking agent)

SRAC’s young teams have had a good deal of success in recent years and were keen to get back on winning ways over the very mixed terrain of the Nairn course. The format of the junior relays is; leg1 by an under 13 runner, 2nd leg runner under 15 and the anchor leg run by an under 17 runner. So, first up for SRAC were the impressive Kyle Munro and debutant youngster Scott MacIver. On the pop of the gun the boys were quickly onto the Nairn beach and feeling the zapping effect of 300+ meters of soft sand! There was little in the way of recovery as the lads headed in-land as the sand continued right into the depths of the adjacent forest section. Further to the work required to cope with the soft surface were a number of sharp short steep hills in the forest, before the final section of flooded flatlands and a second very deep water crossing! (Oh, I neglected to include the first knee deep river crossing before reaching the forest!) At the final section leading onto the footpaths to the finish it was all about who still had anything left to throw at the final sprint for the change over, or finish line for the last runners!

Mmmm, can we beat these guys?

Both SRAC lads did fine with Scott clocking a time comparable to others in the team while Kyle really showed great determination from the start to the end of the leg to hand over in second place. East Sutherland took off first on the second leg ahead of SRAC’s Conner Maclean by 15 seconds. The lead was overhauled by Connor within the first 400meters and over the flood plane and first river crossing Connor kept increasing the lead to record the second fastest individual leg of the day. As Connor handed to anchor runner Kenny MacSween in first place the senior SRAC runners watching wondered if the title may come back across the Minch ! Kenny did put in a decent run and fought hard as the East Sutherland team came back to take first. But possibly the run of the day by Inverness Harriers Sean Chalmers and unfortunately for the SRAC lads it meant he too pushed ahead to take second ahead of SRAC by 12 seconds. SRAC’s “B” team which had two under 13 runners placed well enough in 7th place in a very challenging course and race!

SRAC ladies placed 4th from 10 senior teams and the result has to be encouraging for the team’s future as the threesome had two under 20 (junior) runners in Ceit Stewart and Rebecca Munro and Point’s Marina Murray trying out running off road for the first time! (Thanks to kit man Neil MacRury for the spare pair of size 7 studs, I’m sure they helped!)

The senior men had a real mix of results on the day with the teams that finally made the starting line. The surprise of the day was the coming of age of SRAC’s young Harris runner Duncan MacKellar as he clocked the fastest time of the day for the club, eight fastest overall and taking the club home in second place at the end of leg 1! Duncan handed over to Willie MacRury who coped well with the multi terrain mix and won the “bragging rights” of the senior runners in the team with the fastest SRAC senior run of the day. Willie did well to keep the team in the medals handing over to Roddy Gillies in third, but the pressure was building from the chasing runners! Offshore tiger Gillies made a very welcomed return to a travelling SRAC team and did well to keep Stornoway in the chase for places handing to Jonny Pritchard in fourth!  Jonny like so many road runners never a fan of the country put in a decent run overtaking the third placed runner, but in turn was overtaken by the fast finishing North Highland Hill Runners.

James makes Splash on SRAC return!

On yet another “tight” return to Ullapool the SRAC squad were content to return with a bronze medal from the young male team and both the men’s and ladies teams taking fourth places. For the men’s “b” and “c” teams it’s down to a bit more training and in some cases map reading school and orienteering! All attention now turns to the North Championships in Evanton next month and the very popular Alex Murray Construction Lewis and Harris cross country series starting in November.

A. Tupper