Interviews with 4 of our Athletes

Thanks to Pippa Carcas, Elaine Eadie, Iain Macdonald and Sue Ridley for sharing with us their insight and  experiences of their Cross Country season.

Elaine Eadie (East Scotland) photo John Lenehan

Elaine Eadie, EAC female Cross-Country Grand Prix winner 2019-2020:
I moved to Edinburgh from the West in 2019 and my first task was to find a running club. I definitely made the right choice with EAC! My first season with EAC was more about staying fit whilst finding my feet in both a new job and a new city, so I felt much more competitive this year.

I was really surprised to win the Grand Prix with such a strong group of women at EAC. There’s great camaraderie and everyone is so supportive of one another.

My favourite race of the season was the Scottish Nationals in Falkirk. Everything seemed to come together on the day even though the conditions were awful. Then there was the added bonus of being selected for the UK inter-county race in Loughborough!

It was a long season but I’m pleased with how it went. I managed to keep it fairly consistent, with thanks to coaches Alex and Garry keeping me fit and injury-free with all their coaching and advice.

Iain Macdonald photo Derek Cogle

Iain Macdonald, EAC male Cross-Country Grand Prix winner 2019-2020:
I ran really well at Kirkcaldy in the short-course 4K championships, after doing a full tempo lap just before we started the race. I also ran well at Broxburn in the League match, the day after I returned from Argentina following 24 hours of travel.  The final League match at Livingston in January also went really well. 

The low point of the season was at Piperdam in December for the East District Championships. I had been really sick with a bug on the Wednesday and Thursday after returning from holiday in Valencia.  On the Saturday I woke up feeling sick again and knackered.  When it was time to leave for the race I actually climbed into bed but managed to pull myself back up and out the door because the Grand Prix points were so important! It was a miserable day – cold and wet – but I managed to run OK in the end, collecting a few points. 

My worst race ended up being the UK Cross Challenge in Stirling.  It was so wet underfoot that I couldn’t run fast, and had to effectively jog round, feeling like I was getting neither a workout nor a long run, and just getting wet.  The Nationals were also a real challenge.  It was so wet underfoot and on the first lap the hail started coming in sideways into everyone’s face.  It was cutting into my face so I had to run throwing up a guard like a boxer. 

I had gone into the race knowing that I would win the grand prix so long as I got round in one piece (a quick chat with Garry when I turned up confirmed that there were enough hardy souls racing that I should pick up enough points to pip captain Iain Whitaker).  The weather improved on lap 2 and by lap 3 I felt like I was running well and started to pick up some places as others slowed. 

However, halfway through the final lap I made a big error, starting to feel like I had done enough to win.  I went past the EAC girls and they cheered, and then I overtook a clubmate, feeling strong.  However, at the next boggy section I was quickly put in my place.  I stepped into a deep muddy puddle and my right ankle went over.  By the time my ankle bone hit the ground I had lost my balance and was falling over, but this ground contact seemed to turn a simple fall into a somersault, flipping me up into the air.  I seemed to be in the air for ages before I landed on my left hip and back, and had time to feel panic about both the grand prix and the upcoming London Marathon. 

However, when I got up to my feet my ankle had survived (maybe another consequence of strength and mobility training) and I was able to make it to the end in an acceptable though not spectacular time.  Crossing the line I knew I had done enough to win the grand prix, giving me great satisfaction.  I am really not suited to cross country as any time it gets muddy or steep I just don’t seem to have the technique and power to run as well relative to others, so it felt like, on one hand, a shock and on the other hand, a big accomplishment.

Sue Ridley photo (C) Bobby Gavin

Sue Ridley, V50 National Champion
The cross-country season started well and it was great to have Sharyn Ramage and Jill Morrow back after long lay-offs to team up with me at the National XC relays – strong runs from us all earned us W50 team gold and I think 3rd masters team overall too!

Karen Dobbie further strengthened our team in the East League races with consistently strong runs. I suffered an injury whilst racing in November which was a huge setback and hindered my progress. I had to be patient and structure my training accordingly.

Not quite back to full fitness, the day of the Masters National XC champs was more a battle of attrition against the gale-force winds and prevailing weather conditions faced over the 3 lap course. Underfoot the course was much drier than I was expecting given the storms we’d been experiencing for weeks.

It was a top quality W50 field which produced a very competitive race and I was totally shocked but delighted to cross the finish line in 1st place.  It’s been a really tough last 6 years and I truly believed my best days were behind me but I love running and always try my best on the day so this win felt extra special. It was great to have Karen Dobbie and Shona Adam also produce fantastic runs to earn us team gold. 

Pippa Carcas photo Neil Renton

Pippa Carcas, U17 UK inter-county gold medal winner with Scotland East, and GB mountain runner:
Loughborough (UK inter-counties) was a brilliant experience competing against the whole of the UK. Scotland as a whole (Scotland East 1st and Scotland West 2nd) did really well which shows the depth we have in the Scottish cross country scene.

The Scotland East team comprised of Anna Hedley 4th (Fife AC), Pippa Carcas 10th (Edinburgh AC), Georgia Ledingham 24th (Costorphine AAC) and Rosie Davidson 30th (Ayr Seaforth).

Everyone is able to push each other on and no one can really become complacent in winning as there is always someone barking at their heels. Despite the competitive atmosphere, everyone is pleased for each other’s successes especially when we are all working as a team.

We knew we were in the contention for medals in Loughborough as we had scored highly in previous years, however this was the first time winning it. The mud stuck to our shoes and made running really hard work but we have several cross-countries throughout the season such as National Championships at Callender Park and Inter Districts in Stirling. This meant that we were familiar with how to attack the race and what precautions we needed to take such as putting in 15mm spikes. It all paid off and we were able to secure gold at a very muddy Loughborough.

The 2020 season is looking very much in the air at the moment. The summer track season seems effectively called off bar a couple of races in late August. Hopefully, the winter cross country season won’t be affected.

I also compete in Mountain Running and represented GB last year in the European Championships in Switzerland. I am hoping to be to be selected for GB again for the World Championships in mid-November for the World Mountain Running Championships in Lanzarote, however, there is a strong field of girls so I will need to be in good form for the trials and have a really good race!

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