DECHMONT Law in Livingston was the venue for the third and final East District Cross-Country League races on Saturday with Team Borders in action and vying for the title in the Under-15 Boys league.

A chilly but dry and still day provided good running conditions but with some athletes in a quandary regarding their choice of footwear given the still-frozen ground in places combined with soft stretches and slippery turns.

The Under-15 Boys held an eight point advantage over Dundee going into their race, with Aberdeen hovering only one point further back. It was a case of quality over quantity for Team Borders, with the bare minimum of three runners for a counting team, the Gala Harriers trio of Gregor Collins, Ewan Christie and Ewan Purves - the latter more suited to 800m on the track but bravely doing his bit for the team points over the 4km undulating course.

It was Aberdeen who proved to be the more serious contenders on the day and their first two runners home in 4th and 7th exactly matched the score of the first two Team Borders runners Gregor Collins in 5th and Ewan Christie a close 6th.

All eyes then turned anxiously to the home turn to await the appearance of the third and final team counters.

It was an Aberdeen vest next into view but right there hot on his heels was the Borders vest of Ewan Purves who just managed to out-dip his Aberdeen counterpart in a sprint for 15th.

This was crucial in securing a one-point team victory on the day and a ten-point winning margin in the final league placings.

Gregor Collins has been a stalwart of the team right through the age-groups and it was fitting that he led the team up to receive the Edinburgh Evening News Cup.

Hats off too to McKenzie Power, also from Gala Harriers, who played his part as third team counter in Race 1 back in October. Without his contribution, there would have been no team, no title and no cup to share round the houses.

The day’s busy programme of racing kicked off with the Under-11 Girls race over 1.6km in which Gala’s Kirsty Rankine was home in 15th in a time of 7.01 minutes, clubmate Jessica Hendry was 21st in 7.07 and Moorfoot’s Ava Mooney finished just behind in 22nd in 7.09.

That placed the girls 5th on the day and a close 5th overall with 180 points for the season, only 16 points off the podium.

The Under-11 Boys’ team finished 8th on the day, Gala’s Ross Christie leading the team with his very solid 7th place finish in 6.18. The Moorfoot duo of Calum Fitzgerald and Toru Keen completed the team score with their 43rd and 46th places in a massive field of 91 runners. That saw the boys finish 6th in the final league placings.

It was up to a testing 3.2km for the Under-13 races and Gala’s Isla Paterson had an impressively strong run in the girls’ race to finish 5th in a time of 12.51. She was followed home by Gracie Linton of Moorfoot in 20th in 13.46 and her clubmate Elena Lee was 24th in 13.48. The team’s 49 points gave them 5th on the day and 5th overall.

The Under-13 boys’ race saw another big field, coincidentally again 91 runners, and Gala’s Cameron Rankine battled well for 7th in 11.53. Chirnside’s Zico Field was home in 27th in 12.28 just ahead of Moorfoot’s Thomas Hilton who was only two seconds back in 28th. Whilst that saw the team finish 6th on the day, across the season they held onto an excellent 3rd place.

In the combined Under15/Under 17 Girls race over 6km, Anna Fairclough from Gala ran very well for 15th in 16.42 with the Moorfoot duo of Esme Minto and Charlotte Morrison completing the team points with their 35th and 42nd places for 8th on the day and 10th overall.

Team Co-ordinator Gregor Nicholson told us: "This was a challenging cross-country season for Team Borders with a good number of non-availabilities across the three races impacting on the team scores, but it was very pleasing to bring some silverware back to the Borders again.

"And with healthy numbers in the younger age-groups, many of whom are bubbling under just outside the scorers and still in the same age-group next winter, the future is looking rosy for cross-country in the Borders."