Champions Crowned at Glenpark

It has been a busy few weeks for Greenock Glenpark Harriers as we brought our elongated championship season to a close. We started this season’s senior championship in September 2019, and who would have known then what lay in store? We managed 5 races before the March 2020 lockdown, another 3 in the Autumn/Winter months of 2020 and finished it all off with an amazing 8 races since May 2021!

The backlog of races and work going on behind the scenes has meant that some races went ahead without big race reports afterwards, an unfortunate side effect of how busy things were. Back in June, we held the Chisholm Mile at Ravenscraig Track, the one mile race which usually takes place on the Esplanade. This was followed by the windfarm race in mid July (which we did report on) and the club hill race at the end of July. We managed to make our annual trip to Dunoon for the Willie Jukes race on 14th August and last week we held our season finale, the Bill Elder 10k in Greenock.

Runners at the start of the Bill Elder 10k

The mile race saw Shaun Lyon secure a victory in an impressive 4.41 and new member Shona Docherty pipped Marian Monk on the line for the ladies win in 6.02. The mile proved to be tougher shift round the Ravenscraig track, but an incredible 76 harriers took part on the night. Hopefully we’ll be back to a wind assisted Esplanade next year.

The hill race saw a recent record of 27 runners take part on a warm Wednesday evening in July. That might not sound a lot, but it is hard to convince too many runners that 2.5 miles of solid climbing is worthwhile! This was the most runners we have had at this race since 2013, on top of an army of volunteers to keep them right. The race starts in Pennyfern, and runs all the way up to Hillside Hill behind Cornalees, and back down to the start. Andy McCall proved once again that this is his terrain, and he took the win in 34.09, just under a minute ahead of Kevin Craig. Sue Hewitson is also adept at this style of running, and she secured her 11th win of the season! Sue finished the season with 12 wins, with no female runner managing to defeat her in any of the races she ran. This was more than enough to secure Sue her first Greenock Glenpark Harriers Woman’s Championship victory.

Sue Hewitson en route to her victory at the Bill Elder

The Harriers always travel to Dunoon in May for our memorial race for Willie Jukes, a 5 mile race along the waterfront between Dunoon and Inellan. This was cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020, but we were delighted to get it scheduled for 2021 in August. Marian Monk secured her first race win of the elongated season, and it is great to see her hard work paying off (more on that later!). In the men’s race, it was a first club race victory for Paul Monaghan. It was almost hard to believe that Paul had not won a race, as he has been a near ever present for the last 8 years. Paul puts in big big miles, and everyone in the club was delighted to see him win his first race in a great time of 27.57 for the 5 mile race. This race also has a handicap element, and new member Campbell Cromar won this very comfortably with a great run, another member who has been training hard!

Marian Monk working hard at the Bill Elder

Going into the final race of the season, a number of our club championships had been decided. We were able to host 16 races between September 2019 and August 2021. Sue had won the female overall and female v35 championships . Marian Monk won the female v45, Fiona Cushnaghan won the female v55 and Charlotte McKay won the female v65. On the men’s vets side, Stevie Campbell had secured the v40, Danny McLaughlin the v60 and Frank McMahon the v70. The overall senior champion, the handicap champion and mens v50 were still up for grabs.

Callum Gorry and Fiona Cushnaghan

The Bill Elder 10k runs from the middle of the Battery Park and follows the coast along the Esplanade and eventually to The Custom House, where we turn back and return to the start. A slight detour this year was required to avoid the building site at the Cinema, but thanks to a bit of pre race study, the distance was spot on 10km once again (even if runners used that new cycle path for the racing line!). The race once again saw a brand new winner, with Neil Lafferty taking the crown in an impressive 34.08. Neil ran hard from the gun, covering the first 5k in comfortably under 17 minutes, building a lead on the chasing pack that would not be closed in the second half of the race. Paul Monagahan was the closest chaser in 34.53 and Oliver Reilly just behind in 35 minutes dead. That was a PB for Oliver who had ran 35.12 the Sunday before in Kilmarnock. For Paul it secured his v50 title in his first year in that age category.

Paul Monaghan, mens v50 champion

The ladies race was won by Sue Hewitson, her twelfth victory of the year and cementing her status as the female champion. Sue ran 40.51 to take the win ahead of Marian Monk who ran a superb PB of 43.13. That PB was rewarded with a top 10 place in the handicap race, and 33 points was enough to secure the victory for the overall handicap champion ahead of Eric Lindsay and James McFadden. Eric and James have raced well all year, and any of the three would have been worthy winners, but Marian took the crown and thoroughly deserved it after putting in a ton of work this season.

Neil Lafferty claiming his first race win

The handicap race went down to the wire, and it was great to see young Callum Gorry take the win just ahead of not so young Eddie Devine. Charlotte McKay was right with Eddie at the finish line too, and ran a great time of just under 70 minutes. There were other PBs dotted around the field, Malcolm McLean was rewarded for his hard training with a PB of 41.34 (which was followed by another at parkrun on Saturday). At the top end of the race, former champion Chris Mooney seems to be coming back into form with his run of 35.10, and new member Stuart Greenway was just behind him in 35.16. Stuart has PBs that most can only dream of, so it will be good to see him run in the famous Glenpark colours next season!

2019-21 GGH Senior Champion, Stevie Campbell

None of these races could go ahead without the help of an army of volunteers, so a big thank you to anyone who has volunteered for these races in recent month. Holding this all together has been John Stevenson, who has went above and beyond the call of duty as men’s captain to get these organised. John is sadly stepping down, and we are hopeful we can find someone even half as good as him to fill his boots!

We have to thank all of our race sponsors over the course of the year, and in particular the sponsors for the 5 races mentioned in this report:
Chisholm Mile –
Harris –
Cornalees Cup – Lock and Sole (key cutting and engraving, Oak Mall)
Willie Jukes – Travis Perkins
Bill Elder – WB Smith Trees and Turf

All race results and championship tables can be downloaded here:
https://greenockglenparkharriers.com/racechampionshiptables/

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