The Covid-19 pandemic put pay to Greenock Glenpark Harriers club racing in December of last year. The club had enjoyed a few months of racing in the lead up to Christmas, and three of our championship races had been run safely in that period. However, we had to wait until late April until we were in a position where we were allowed to put on another club race.
The Willow Bowl is one of the most popular races among our senior members. The race is a conceding handicap run around the Greenock Cut. Starting at the Long Dam near Overton, the runners are sent off west-bound in reverse handicap order. They travel up the stony road and down into Cornalees before joining the Cut and racing back to the start. The first person across the line is the winner of the Willow Bowl. This year the wind was unusually coming from the east, making the last 4 flat miles or so along the cut a tough prospect into the breeze.
In recent years, an additional prize has also been awarded to the first veteran runner across the line. Last year, Eric Lindsay won the Tommy Knight Trophy for this feat, and this year he went one step further by winning the Willow Bowl itself. Eric had a commanding lead of almost one minute over Fiona MacFarlane, who herself took home the Tommy Knight Trophy this year. Eric has been running great in his first couple of years as a Harrier, and this was perhaps his best performance yet. The same can be said for Fiona, who has now been unlucky to finish second in the last two handicap races! With 4 races to go in the handicap championship, both Eric and Fiona are battling it out as the top 2 runners.
In the scratch races, Sue Hewitson once again asserted her dominance on the trail. Sue has won the ladies scratch race every time she has ran it, which is four times in the last five years. Sue ran just under 56 minutes for the 7.8 mile course, her second fastest time in those four victories. Fiona MacFarlane and Marian Monk both broke the hour mark to claim second and third respectively. Marian claimed the v45 title and Terri Wall took home the v55 crown. Elsewhere there were some really strong runs from Debbie McKenzie, Heather Lafferty and Lynsey McLaughlin. There were 16 ladies running in total, which is a great turnout.
One person who is more than comfortable on the hills is Kev Craig. Our club ultra marathon specialist showed that he has some good speed on the shorter routes too. After a steady start up the hill, Kev threw everything at it from there to the finish line to take the mens race by the narrowest of margins. In a conceding handicap race, you are often not starting with your main competitor, and Andy McCall had started two minutes after Kev, and had to wait until they compared watches at the end to see he had just been pipped at the post by 10 seconds! In third place was Andrew Osborne, who had an incredible race. Andrew took two and a half minutes off his time from the year before, and in tougher conditions! Andrew finished ahead of a number of the club’s top guys, like last year’s winner Kevin O’Donoghue who was fourth.
Elsewhere there was another brilliant run from Oliver Reilly in fifth place, who continues to improve race on race, and big things are expected in the near future! James McFadden had another great run, with a high placing in the handicap standings, as did Callum Gorry who had a superb run, taking seven whole minutes off of his time from last year! Craig Hyslop ran well in his first club race, and Graeme Boyce too in his longest run to date. Kev Craig was the v40 winner, with Paul Monaghan taking the v50 crown (yes, you read that right… watch out v50s all over Scotland when big races return!!), Danny McLaughlin took the v60 and Frank McMahon the v70.
Its great to have club races back, but they would not be possible without the help of so many volunteers in the run up to the race and on the day itself. So a big thank you to all of them, and especially to John Stevenson for driving it. A big thank you has to go to our race sponsor and club member Dick Hodelet as well. Since this race, we have held our next club race, the Docherty Cup, so look out for another exciting read soon!
Results: Kevin Craig 46.31, Andrew McCall 46.41, Andrew Osborne 47.26, Kevin O’Donoghue 47.29, Oliver Reilly 47.36, Steven Campbell 48.1, Chris Mooney 49.14, Paul Monaghan 50.04, Stephen Hanley 50.57, Chris Jones 51.59, Gordy Hepburn 53.39, Eric Lindsay 54.02, Paul McAuley 54.23, David Roberts 54.28, James McFadden 54.3, Sue Hewitson 54.5, Chris Watson 55.33, Craig Hyslop 56.14, Ross Paul 56.41, Stuart Austin 56.53, Owen Atkinson 56.58, Graeme Boyce 57.08, James Doherty 57.12, Campbell Cromar 57.49, Ian McKee 58.06, Robert Dolan 58.46, Danny McLaughlin 58.46, Ross Slater 59.05, Fiona MacFarlane 59.27, Callum Gorry 59.35, Marian Monk 59.57, Viki Smith 61.18, Graham McGrattan 63.08, Robin McAuslan 64.13, Debbie McKenzie 64.29, Jim Cuffe 64.37, Frank McMahon 64.52, Lisa Boonsanong 65.17, Liam McFadden 67.11, Marianne Mckay 67.47, Heather Lafferty 68.29, Terri Wall 68.53, Lynsey McLaughlin 69.17, Lucas Bezian 72.22, Sharon Black 72.41, Sandra Devine 72.56, Susie Gillies 57.18, Elaine Medinelli 76.2, Yvonne Prager 77.35, Matthew Young 82.56, Angela Nelson 90.51