Greenock Glenpark Harriers have been fortunate in the last few months to have some club races to keep their competitive juices flowing. Across Scotland, some open events are starting to come back into the racing calendar. Last Wednesday night we were fortunate enough to have such an event on our doorstep. The new wind farm at Corlic Hill has been dominating the skyline behind Inverclyde for over a year now, and what better way to christen the access road than to have a race around it!
Owners of the windfarm, BayWa kindly sponsored this new race, and thanks to the tireless work of Glenpark’s Andy McCall and Alex Osborne of Acorn Trails the race went ahead last Wednesday night. The 117 runners on the night were presented with a typical Greenock summer’s night, which started brightly but the wind and mist descended to challenge their toughness.
The route itself was three clockwise loops of the access road which links all eight of the wind turbines. The route starts with a gentle downhill but soon rises steadily upwards towards the western end of the loop, at this point the runners are met with “Killer”. There is 100ft of elevation gained in the space of around 150m of running, the challenge isn’t just to run to the top of it, it’s to keep the legs going for the downhill after! The hills and the wind made for a challenging route along the stoney roads over the 5.5 mile distance (9km).
Kieran Cooper has won events across Scotland, and at 21 is a real talent in the Scottish running scene. Him and his dad Richard are well kent faces down Inverclyde way with a number of Greenock parkrun and local races to their names. Kieran proved to be a class apart and won this race in a great time of 30 minutes 50 seconds, with Richard in 7th in 33.37 (first M50). Shaun Lyon has been prolific in winning the Glenpark Harriers club races recently, and he was 2nd overall here to again take the Glenpark crown in 31.47. Stuart Donnachie, an Acorn Trails regular, was 3rd in 32.18.
The ladies race was very tight. Like Shaun, Sue Hewitson has been pretty prolific for Glenpark in recent years, but couldn’t quite catch Louise Mitchell who edged her out by just 14 seconds. Louise runs for Cani Sport Fife, and it was another guest runner taking third with Bellahouston Harriers’ Kristina Greig nipping just under the 40 minute mark.
Glenpark Harriers have a club championship schedule of 1 races in the season, and normally the Harris Trophy would be run around Greenock’s Coves reservoirs in the midst of winter. However, due to the lockdown this year that race has not gone ahead. The trail around the Coves is tight, and perhaps not suitable for a race during times of social distancing. This year, this windfarm race substituted itself into the championship schedule as the eighth race of the season. Sean and Sue took home the crowns in the senior races. Neil Lafferty and Wes Pattison the closest challengers for the mens title and Marian Monk and Fiona MacFarlane closest to the ladies crown.
The handicap aspect was won by new member Ross Morrison in just his third race for the club. Ross raced superbly in just under 40 minutes to take the title ahead of Marian Monk and Lisa Boonsanong. The handicap committee deserve huge credit for judging this one given that it is a brand new race route!
The gratitudes do not stop there. This is one event where the hard work and dedication of many needs to be highlighted. The brainchild of Andy McCall, he worked tirelessly to bring his vision to reality. Acorn Trails involvement allowed the race to go ahead with online public entry, chip timing and superb publicity. It was great to see runners from across Scotland travel to our home turf and see what Inverclyde has to offer. The club volunteers were aplenty too, and made sure all runners got to and from the start line safely, and were well marshalled and supported around the course. Finally to BayWa for allowing us to use their land for the race, and for kindly sponsoring the club and the race.
Additional sponsorship was received from Migo Sports, Tesco Port Glasgow and Tunnocks. Some fantastic photos were taken on course from GBR Photographs. Money was raised on the day for Ardgowan Hospice, with over £400 donated to the local charity.