PH Racing Club’s masters athletes were to the fore once again on Saturday at the opening East League Cross Country fixture of the season.  The event took place at the University of Stirling and, as usual, the ladies took on two laps of approximately 3km with the men completing three.

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Before the senior runners took to the course our two junior athletes, Andrew Thomson and Jamie Lessels, competed in the under 17 race, also over two laps.  Both ran excellent races placing 12th and 16th respectively with Thomson finishing in 22:47 and Lessels, on his cross country debut for the club, not far behind in 23:08.  Despite incurring penalty points for not having a third runner on the day the team finished in fifth position and there is certainly a chance to improve on this over the remaining two fixtures.

In the ladies race, which started shortly after, there were great performances from Kristin Lownie and Karen Kennedy.  Lownie placed 15th in 25:04 with Kennedy just 12 seconds behind finishing 18th and first veteran.  Lack of numbers were PH’s downfall once again with penalty points incurred in both the overall and masters competitions despite Clare Graham also completing.  This leaves last season’s masters champions with an uphill battle to retain their title but a good chance to improve upon their current position of 11th.  The ladies team sit 12th in the overall competition following the first fixture.

It was then the turn of the men’s team to shine with a number of strong runs contributing to a first place finish in the masters competition and sixth position overall.  First man home for PH was Andrew Wright, clearly well recovered from his recent exertions at the World Masters Mountain Championships in Italy.  Wright came in third in the masters category in 33:08, just two seconds ahead of teammate and fourth veteran finisher Robert Sellar.  Final counter for PH in the masters team was Paul Kieran, fifth over 40 in 33:51, to give the team a superb total of just 12 and take the lead in the league after one event.

There were other good performances from Michael McConnell (33:31), the fast improving Philip Waring (35:31) and Stuart Tite (36:19) to make up the required six finishers in the overall competition and secure sixth position after the first race.  Wright Beveridge was not far off their pace in 36:30 while Alan Cockburn and Billy Stewart, on his first league outing, can be satisfied with their afternoon’s work.

Well done to all and thanks to Karen Thomson and Stuart Mackay for the excellent race photos.