THE road racing season has started in earnest and Gala Harriers have found themselves on the starting line at several races over a variety of distances this month.
On Sunday on the streets of a very sunny but cool London, 40,000 runners of all ages, shapes and sizes turned up for what is the biggest fundraising event in the world and surely one of the most colourful events in the athletics calendar, the Virgin London Marathon. In a dress rehearsal for London 2012, there were races within races as Olympic selection for many competing countries was high on the agenda.
The tussles at the front of the race within the elite runners from the African countries as well as Team GB made for some breathtaking performances. Further down the field, there were also achievements to write home about as seven Gala Harriers had succeeded in securing a place, as well as one of the newest club members, Samantha Kinghorn. The 16-year-old has been training exceptionally hard at Tweedbank in her racing wheelchair and over the mini marathon distance achieved a spectacular second place, a tremendous performance in her first appearance here.
More seasoned Harriers took on the 26.2 miles in near-perfect racing conditions with the crowd support better than ever this year. First home for the club was Fergus Johnston in 3 hours 6 minutes 10 seconds, a superb time but one which will have frustrated him, coming tantalisingly close to the elusive sub-3 target.
Billy McCulloch put heart and soul into his impressive 3.22.01, with super, super vet Margot Crosbie flying in 3.38.39. Fiona Shepherd in 3.49 wasn't far behind, with Eileen Nicol, a regular and successful campaigner in London finishing in 3.55.33 after a storming first half. Dawn Grant, who has already broken the 4 hour mark in previous marathons, this time chummed up with Gina Allen in her first ever marathon, both recording 4.04.08, a personal best for a delighted Gina.
Earlier in the week, Monday night training was transformed into the Harriers' handicapped Hollybush 10K, with the coveted trophy going to Jenny Forbes having returned from a clearly successful year of training in New Zealand! Holding on to second place with a determined run was Keith King, with Colin McCall storming through the field to secure third place.
One day earlier, Gerry Moss had taken on the newly-named Rock 'n' Roll Edinburgh Half Marathon and came home in a pleasing 1 hour 46 minutes 19 seconds, while the previous weekend, Steve Martin ran his first ever marathon in Lochaber, finishing in a spectacular 3 hours and 35 seconds, a stunning PB with a only a bit of work to do to join the sub-3 club. He had used the Tom Scott Memorial Race in Strathclyde Country Park the weekend before as a sharpener, finishing in 40th place in 61 minutes 25 seconds, with Colin McCall beating him by 11 places in an impressive personal best time of 59.53.