Athletes battle the elements

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ICY conditions greeted the hundreds of athletes that gathered at Wester Balgarvie for the East of Scotland Cross-Country Championships.

Hosts Fife AC didn’t have long to wait for success, as local lad Adam Scott led home the under-13 boys’ race, rallying from a fall on the frozen surface halfway around the course.

Having been closed down to 10 metres over the final 800m by Edinburgh’s Michael Swinton, the final 200m saw Adam kick off the final turn to finish five seconds clear.

Crail athlete George Rees excelled in sixth and, with Craig Morris in 18th, the boys claimed a well-deserved team silver.

The following race saw another silver lining as under-15 athlete Ana Brocklebank, of Crail, finished 11th, chased by Ailsa Cruickshanks, Lundin Links, in 13th.

Katie Aitken closed in the team scoring, finishing 18th, to help the club to second team place.

Halina Rees, Crail, took the individual under-20 women’s silver medal and, with the ever improving Jennifer Cruickshanks, Lundin Links, in seventh, plus Kerry Gibson not far behind in 12th there was yet another clutch of team silver for the club.

The closest team race of the day came in the under-20 men’s race where Zach Delaney, Cellardyke, finished a fine sixth, supported by Ewan Paton 16th and Skylar Lobdell 17th.

Edinburgh AC won on count-back from Falkirk Victoria, as both teams totalled 36, with Fife taking team bronze on 38 points.

For the past three years, club stalwart Helen Sharpe has tirelessly travelled to from her Amsterdam work base to support the women’s team racing efforts.

Helen’s dedication was amply rewarded on this occasion as she took the individual bronze medal, ahead of defending champion Jenny MacLean (Edinburgh AC) in fourth.

Amie McKimmie had her best ever run in Fife colours, finishing 16th, with Fiona Bracegirdle 31st and veteran Lorraine Brown in 32nd, helping the team to a creditable fourth place.

Crail over-40 veteran Mark Harris made a welcome cross-country appearance, leading home the 21 Fife senior men in 43rd, while further back in 135th, it was good to see Vincent MacPherson back home in Scotland, making his first appearance for the club since the mid-1990s.

Back then, Vinnie was a Scottish Schools Cross-Country internationalist and also represented the Scotland junior team at the World Hill Running Championships.

An army of club members marshalled the course, laid out by Dave Francis, and hopefully warmed the competitors with plenty of encouragement as they competed against the freezing conditions.