The Docherty Cup is the longest race of the club season; a 10-mile conceding handicap, starting at the paddling pools at Ashton, Gourock. The course does a half mile loop to the Yacht Club and then all the way out towards Inverkip via the Cloch Lighthouse and Lunderston Bay to Cloch-Road-End and back. An Easterly wind on the day meant the thirty nine runners had to conserve some energy for the run into the wind after the halfway point.
Last year George McCallum won the handicap with a phenomenal run. This year, with an equally impressive finishing effort, holding off a string of runners was Stuart “D.” Crawford (please note for trophy engraving purposes).
Next in was Stephen Harrison. Third was Stephen Reid. Excellent runs in scratch and handicap were Kevin O’Donoghue (10th and 5th), Colin McKnight (12th and 4th) and Danny McLaughlin (13th and 6th).
A chat over a pint with winner Stuart in the Spinnaker after the race revealed just how deep he had to dig to hold off and win.
In his own words “I passed the five runners who had set out ahead of me over the 8 miles to McInroy’s point and then found myself in the lead. It was scary! Working my way to the front had taken its toll and with just under 2 miles to go, my right calf cramped up. I didn’t panic and tried running on my heel. That did the trick – the calf slowly eased off. The Marshalls were brilliant cheering me on, but they were saying the group at the back were winding me in fast. I realised I had a chance though. By the way, it’s funny what you think of when you find yourself in that position. I knew I should’ve put my number on straight! As I approached the wee ramp at the Yacht Club my other calf cramped up. It was agony, but at that point you’d need to chop my legs off to stop me – the finish was in sight! Fiona Cushnaghan was cheering me on and shouting excitedly that I could win it but also said Stephen Harrison was right behind me. I dug deep and sprinted flat out, hoping for the best. My wife Helen and I did a dry run during the week and not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sprinting towards the finish line in first place. The photo says it all! Am over the moon with that!”
The story from Stephen Harrison in second place was equally impressive. Stephen was set off 30 seconds behind Campbell Cromar and Graham Boyce along with Danny McLaughlin and Colin McKnight. Danny and Colin had been beating Stephen over the country, but Stephen took the race to them all and managed to catch the two ahead in less than half a mile. Stephen then maintained the pace, dropping all but Colin who held on up to just two kilometres to go at which point Stephen broke away, pulling in Stuart all the way to the finish to secure second place. Stephen managed to pass 23 runners.
Stephen Reid finished in third place. Stephen had put in some tough shifts on the hills in recent races and was delighted with his run.
In the scratch Ladies race, Liz Gemmell (1:11:04) ran brilliantly, especially on the inclines at the halfway point to pass many runners. Liz finished ahead of Marian Monk (1:16:10) and the ever-improving Lynne Harrison (1:17:38). Debbie McKenzie (1:22:40) and Yvonne Prager (1:32:26) also had good runs.
In the Men’s scratch race, Paul Monaghan pushed himself to the limit as always. The level of effort Paul can put into his runs in races is incredible (as all of those who were left trailing in his wake will readily agree). Paul finished in a time of 56:12. Next in with another gritty performance was Andrew Osbourne (57:27). Third was Neil Lafferty (57:54).
Other notable performances in the Men’s race came from Kenny Osbourne (59:00), Dylan Crawford (59:03) – who had just finished a 3-set tennis match and Stephens Cooke (1:04:50) and Hanley (1:05:01).
Once again, an extra special thank-you to our brilliant volunteers who provided plenty of encouragement whilst making sure the route was clear and safe for all competitors.
And of course, to the Handicap Committee. The photo of Stuart at the finish with many runners in hot pursuit shows how well they did their job!
Races coming up :
6th May – Willie Jukes 5 Mile Road Race, Dunoon
30th May – Chisholm Mile Road Race, Greenock Esplanade