UNDULATING but testing parkland greeted Gala Harriers on the last weekend in October when they headed up to Cumbernauld for the Scottish Athletics National Cross Country Relay Championships. Running again for Gala Harriers as opposed to Team Borders, the club representatives of all ages equipped themselves well, with three complete Young Male teams all finishing well in the first half of the field and some top 20 fastest performances from the juniors, with particular mention to Louise Mercer who ran one of the fastest legs of the day. The club's senior women scooped second place in the vets category, with excellent runs from Gillian Duncan, Rachel Fagan and Fiona Dalgleish. The clocks going back allowed for some recovery time before the Jedburgh half marathon and 10k races the next day, with good results all round for the club, especially in the 10k with the first placed woman Kirstin Maxwell and the first supervet, Bob Marshall, crossing the line in exactly the same time.
But the biggest turn out of the year so far was at Lauder on Sunday for the inaugural race of the 2012/13 Borders Winter Cross Country series. A bright cold day with crisp underfoot conditions turning to soft ground as the morning wore on welcomed the 75 junior and 212 senior runners from across the Borders and further afield in the first of the six event programme running from November to February.
Gala Harriers' youngsters made up almost half of the junior field and the wave of green and white vests streaming across the finishing line in top positions overall and in age categories too evidenced the hours of training put in over the summer.
Leading home the junior field were Nathan Cox, Thomas Otton and Gavin Bryson, with nine other Harriers in the top 25. Nathan, Josh Abbott, Jamie Logan, Jo Arres and Cara Hogg all came first in their age category. Seniors Harriers also ran well and were led home by Colin Welsh who was ninth in 29 minutes 05 seconds. Fiona Dalgleish took first place in her age category in 33.09, with Karen Maxwell also first in the 16-19 year olds. Looking ahead, Gala Harriers' host their annual Hollybush cross country handicap and club championships, on Saturday, November 10, followed by their annual Presentation Night at the Young Men's Club.