The Willow Bowl is Greenock Glenpark Harriers annual 7.75 mile conceding handicap race around the Greenock Cut, starting at the Long Dam at Overton and heading over the hill to Cornalees before following the Cut back to the Long Dam. Traditionally run the week after the National XC, the weather can be unpredictable – last year, we had strong winds and freezing rain. However, this year the runners were greeted by early Spring sunshine and only a gentle breeze.
Runners start in handicap order, with the slower runners out first, and the fastest “scratch” man out last – the idea being that the faster runners gradually chase down those ahead of them resulting in a frantic race to the finish line as the runners converge. However, first runner off, Fiona Cushnaghan had other ideas, as she lead all the way and never looked like being caught, to claim the Willow Bowl handicap trophy.
Behind Fiona, the race was much more closely contested, with Andrew Osborne and Daniel Doherty both showing excellent form to be 2nd and 3rd across the line, followed closely by Frank McMahon, Emma O’Rourke, and Steven Watson.
The scratch prize for fastest time of the day was won by reigning club champion Stephen Trainer in 43:40, with second place going to Kevin O’Donoghue, with another good run, following on from last week’s National XC.
The battle for third, and first vet, was a head-to-head between Stevie Campbell and Paul Monaghan, with Stevie just taking the honours. Suzanne Coyle was the fastest woman, with only seconds separating Marian Monk and Lynne Leslie in second and third.
Another keenly anticipated contest was the race between the Carruthers brothers, David and John. With John starting a minute behind David, he was looking strong in the early stages but faded as the race distance took it’s toll, allowing David to pull away and claim the bragging rights. Several of the runners looked to be struggling in the later stages of what is the second longest of the club’s races, and they will have their endurance tested again on 26th March, when the Harriers hold the longest race in their calendar, the 10 mile Docherty Cup.
After the race, the Harriers retired to the Willow Bar for the trophy presentation and much needed post-race food and rehydration. The club would like to thank the Willow Bar, who have sponsored this race since it was first run 34 years ago. Thanks also to all the volunteers who helped to organise the race, and the supporters who cheered the runners around the Cut.
(scratch time in brackets)
Fiona Cushnaghan 70.24 (70.24) Andrew Osborne 71.06 (48.06) Daniel Doherty 71.15 (47.15) Frank McMahon 71.18 (60.48) Emma O’Rourke 71.21 (66.21) Steven Watson 71.22 (54.52) Robert Wilson 71.24 (50.54) Andy MacLean 71.37 (57.07) John Stevenson 72.03 (55.33) Viki Smith 72.09 (67.09) Andy McCall 72.12 (49.12) Kevin O’Donoghue 72.20 (45.20) Micky Dunn 72:28 (53:58) Steven Campbell 72.43 (46.13) Paul Monaghan 72.57 (46.27) Gordon Hepburn 73.08 (52.38) Nicola Stevenson 73.08 (64.38) Mark Vance 73.15 (49.15) Stephen Reid 73.16 (58.46) Stephen Trainer 73.40 (43.40) Suzanne Coyle 74.04 (59.34) Susan Clark 74.16 (65.46) David Carruthers 74.23 (66.53) Kevin Gill 74.42 (60.12) Brian McCluskey 74.47 (56.17)Stuart Austin 74.49 (58.19) Stephen Hanley 74.52 (58.22) Robin McAuslan 74.58 (60.28) Angeline Austin 75.14 (70.14) John Carruthers 76.03 (67.33) Colin Campbell 76.09 (59.39) Marian Monk 76.24 (62.24) Lynne Leslie 76.31 (62.31) Greg Turner 76.54 (60.24) Boyd McKenzie 77.01 (63.01) Donna Clark 77.36 (63.36)