Amidst the wider hill racing season, Greenock Glenpark Harriers held our annual club hill race on Saturday 8th May. This was also a Scottish Junior trial hill race, with junior athletes and some seniors travelling from all over Scotland to take part. The race followed our traditional route from Woodstock Road on the route to Hillside Hill behind Cornalees with various age category turning points along the way.
The juniors turned at various points up the ascent in age groups U11, U13, U15, U17 with under 20s and seniors heading right to the top before turning back for home. The route always starts at the end of Woodstock Road and heads through the fields to the cut, where the runners cross the bridge and head into the trails on the way up to the summit. The course measures 2.5 miles up from the start to the summit, climbing a total of around 900ft in elevation.
There was some Harriers success in the junior races, with Aimee McEleney 2nd in the U13s girls race, and earned a new trophy donated to the first GGH back down the hill. Summer Taggart was 1st girl in the U15s race. Jude Dolan edged out Shaun Wiseman for 3rd in the U20s race, with Ruby McGill taking the female title. It was a good turnout of juniors from across the country, with 28 competing across the age categories.
The gents race was billed as a battle of the Port, with Andy McCall’s regular title under threat from new challenger to the hilly crown Kyle Wilson. With Neil Lafferty back in the mix too, it was hyped up to be a close affair! On the way up, Kyle and Neil tried to open up a gap on Andy, knowing his strengths lie on the downhill, but with the gap close at the summit, it looked like Andy might be able to charge through. However, Kyle had other ideas and threw himself down the hill to hold off the challengers, which also included Kilmaenock Harriers’ U20 Jonathan Downey. Kyle stormed home for the overall win in 32.51, with Jonathan 2nd and Andy 3rd.
Neil Lafferty came home as 3rd Harrier to add another 8 points to his senior championship haul, which looks like it could be enough to see him crowned this year’s champion. Two cracking runs followed Neil from Inverness Harriers’ Robin Burnett and Euan Rollo, hopefully the long journey was worth it for the spectacular setting on the hills of Greenock. Michael McLoone and Owen Atkinson rounded out the top 5 for Glenpark, both showing their strength on their preferred races.
Ruby McGill picked up another senior race victory with her great U20 run, tackling the full course and coming in ahead of Marian Monk and Fiona MacFarlane. Ruby has now won three senior races this season, but Marian’s 9 points secures another senior ladies championship victory. Ruby will be gunning for that crown in the years to come.
The trial run the week before the race encouraged a few more members to brave the tough course for the first time, with Charlotte McKay and June Anne McKnight going out of their comfort zone to take part. There were also great runs from Lynne Harrison and the returning Debbie McKenzie. William Taylor, Colin McKnight and Stephen Harrison also ran well in their harriers hill race debuts, benefitting from the reccy run or Alan’s famous hill sessions!
This race never happens without volunteers, from those leading the recci run and marking the course before the race, and those helping with registration, timekeeping and marshalling on the day. A big thank you to all of them. An even bigger thanks must go to our race sponsor, Cadence Cycles and GGH member William Laing for his support.