Edinburgh AC Seniors Report Winter 2019-2020

The Following is a report from John Lenehan which was published in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Edinburgh Athletic Club’s senior athletes had a successful winter 2019-2020 cross-country season, winning national titles, awards and medals aplenty. The 10-race season began in October 2019 and reached its climax in March 2020, just before the Coronavirus outbreak put paid to racing competition.

The club’s prestigious annual Cross-Country Grand Prix competition, rewarding the most consistently high-performing athletes across the season, was as hotly-contested as ever.

Elaine Eadie was the top female, taking the title ahead of Lauren Wilson and Rebecca Frake. Clubmates Hannah Cameron, Chloe Cox, Jenny MacLean, Nikki Gibson, Sue Ridley and Isla Scott-Pearce were also in close contention.

Iain Macdonald

Iain Macdonald put together a consistent season to pip Yorkshireman Iain Whitaker and Frenchman Florent Tournay to the men’s title, with Leon Johnson, Mike Christoforou and Myles Bax also challenging for honours.

Jenny MacLean and Leon Johnson won the V40 prizes, while Sue Ridley and Dani Rivera won the V50 spoils. Gavin Phillip completed all 10 races, while the inspirational Eric Stevenson clocked up an impressive 9 races to win the V60 category.

The V50 females had a terrific season. Sue Ridley, Sharyn Ramage and Jill Morrow stormed to victory at the National Relays in Cumbernauld before Christmas. Ridley added to her haul at the windswept National Masters Championships in Johnstone in February, winning the V50 race in style. Strong runs on the day from Karen Dobbie and Shona Adam also saw Edinburgh AC win the V50 National team crown.

V50 National Champions

Ridley, who had battled back after an injury earlier in the season, was elated, enthusing: “It was a very competitive race and a battle of attrition against the weather. I was totally shocked but delighted to cross the finish line in first place. My team-mates produced fantastic runs to earn us team gold. I thought my best days were behind me but I love running and this felt extra special.”

Cumbernauld’s National Relays proved a fruitful stomping ground for the club as the senior female team of Lauren Wilson, Lauren Stoddart, Hannah Cameron and Rebecca Frake won a tight battle for the silver medals, pipping Giffnock North and Inverness Harriers by less than 10 seconds after an hour of racing. Seasoned V40 runners Iain Craven, Richard Meade, Stuart Johnston and Leon Johnson picked up bronze medals on the day.

Nat5ional Short Course Bronze

The National Short Course Championships, held over a 4km course in Kirkcaldy, always delivers fast and furious racing. Senior females Lauren Wilson, Hannah Cameron, Zoe Bates and Rebecca Burns took bronze medals, just one point behind Fife AC. The senior men were not to be outdone, with Freddie Carcas, Mike Christoforou, Joe Ewing and Iain Whitaker narrowly beating Cambuslang to the bronze medals by a single point. Leon Johnson took a superb individual V40 silver medal.

The prestigious East District Championships, held before Christmas, always attracts high-quality runners seeking qualification to represent Scotland East at Scottish and UK inter-district races towards the end of the season. Chloe Cox had a super run to finish 7th, while Iain Whitaker delivered a quality run in a highly competitive men’s field to finish 14th. Cox and Whitaker were both thrilled to qualify for Scotland East vests as a result.

East Ladies

International and inter-district racing kicked off with the Scottish Inter-District Championships, held in January on a muddy course in Stirling, as part of the UK Challenge Series. The club was well-represented by Lauren Wilson, Chloe Cox, Elaine Eadie, Mike Christoforou and Iain Whitaker.

Eadie and clubmate Isla Scott-Pearce, along with Gala Harrier Sara Green, travelled to Loughborough for the UK Inter-County Championships, representing Scotland East with distinction. Promising junior athlete Pippa Carcas and her Scotland East team-mates Anna Hedley, Rosie Davidson and Georgia Ledingham took gold in the Under-17 race. Scotland West took the silver medals, indicating a bright future for Scottish cross-country running.

Carcas, who has already competed for Great Britain in mountain running, said: “This shows the depth we have in the Scottish cross-country scene. We work well as a team and push each other on. We knew we were in contention for medals in Loughborough and our experience at other races in the season meant we knew how to attack the race. It paid off and we were able to secure gold!”

Edinburgh-based Ulsterwoman Lauren Wilson journeyed across the water to race in the Ulster Cross-Country Championships. A gutsy run saw her put herself among the best athletes in the province as she finished in a fantastic third place.

The final race on the Scottish cross-country calendar for 2019-2020 was the ever-popular National Cross-Country Championships. Stormy weather didn’t deter thousands of runners from taking to a sodden Callendar Park course in Falkirk.

Club Grand Prix winner Iain Macdonald was almost caught out by the challenging underfoot conditions. He recounted: “On the final lap I made an error. I had overtaken a clubmate and was feeling strong, but at a boggy section I went over on my ankle. I lost my balance and ended up somersaulting onto my back. I had a moment of panic, but I managed to get back onto my feet and made it to the finish!”

Marathon specialist Macdonald continued: “I’m not really suited to cross-country but when I crossed the line I knew I had done enough to win the Grand Prix. It felt like a bit of a shock, but on the other hand it was a big accomplishment and I was very satisfied with a consistent season!”

The club’s ladies showed both their team spirit and their strength in depth as they lifted the Pat Spence Memorial Trophy, awarded to the top-performing club across all the national cross-country fixtures in the season. They also swept to the East District Cross-Country League title, comprising three races in Stirling, Broxburn and Livingston.

Female Grand Prix winner Elaine Eadie paid tribute to her clubmates, saying: “I was really surprised to win the Grand Prix with such a strong group of women in the club. It was a long season, but I’m pleased with how it went. Everything seemed to come together for me at the National Championships in Falkirk, despite the challenging conditions! Thanks to coaches Alex MacEwen and Garry Robertson for keeping us fit and injury-free with their coaching and advice. There’s great camaraderie at the club and everyone is so supportive. I definitely made the right choice when I joined Edinburgh AC!”

John Lenehan

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