PH Racing Club put in another tremendous performance at last Saturday’s final East League Cross Country fixture at Dechmont Law, Livingston. With the men’s masters team going into the final race with an eight point cushion over closest challengers Corstorphine everyone was keen not to let the trophy slip from our grasp and a total of 27 PH athletes answered the rallying call to take part.

Only three counters were required to complete the masters team and these positions were filled by Andy Davis (2nd master in 31:07), Andrew Wright (4th in 31:59) and Paul Kieran (9th in 32:44), making Paul the only member of the team to be a counter in all three races. They were followed by Ewan Taylor, Mark Ryan and Robert Sellar who were all in the top 20 masters and new recruit Scott McDonald who made his PH debut and finished 21st master in 34:44. Only once these seven were home did rivals Central, who finished second on the day, and Corstorphine get their 3rd finishers over the line making for a pretty comprehensive victory in the end.

Even after that there were even more good performances with Mark Webster, a masters counter in the first two races, holding off Stuart Meiklejohn, who was running his first XC race since joining the club. Mark McLean and Scott Love also enjoyed a battle throughout with McLean winning out in the end. The masters contingent was completed by John Crookston, Alan McGowan, Mark Western, Malcom Hammond, Ed Norton and Michael Stewart.

The final men’s masters table

The overall men’s team were also in a strong position and managed to consolidate this to finish in their best ever placing of fourth in the league. With six counters required, five of the places were filled by the masters athletes with only U20 Aaron Bennet able to squeeze his way in, finishing 60th overall in 32:49. Just outside the counters and also in the top 100 overall was Phil Waring in 34:52 with Michael Lindsay covering the route of almost 9k in 38:11.

As usual, before the men took to the course it was the turn of the women and they also put on an excellent show to finish 7th on the day and 3rd in the masters competition. First from PH was Julie Menzies (6th master in 24:24), closely followed by Kristin Lownie (8th in 24:34). Final counter for the masters was Louise Lessels who was 28th master in 28:21. Four counters are needed in the main ladies competition and, with all our female runners eligible for both, Clare Graham took the final spot with a run of 29:25. Well done also to Susan Allan whose run of 30:38 for the two lap course of almost 6k made her the only ever-present in the ladies team for the season.

Kristin Lownie leads Julie Menzies who eventually managed to beat her!

These performances pushed the ladies team up into 9th place overall for the season and 6th in the masters category. These were both excellent results after a poor start at the first fixture in Hawick where we racked a large number of penalty points due to most of the team being unavailable to run.

The event also incorporated the first race of the 2022 PH Racing Club Championship meaning Andrew Davis and Julie Menzies set the early pace. There are another 10 races to go still with the best six to count. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, can replace Jonathan Peebles and Kristin Lownie as Club Champions with them having won the last completed competition in 2019.

Well done and thanks to all who made the effort to run last weekend. As we always say, it’s not just the actual counters who make a difference as everyone else is adding points to other teams. The next big XC event is next weekend’s Scottish Masters Championships in Aberdeen where most of the above will be running and looking to make an impression on a national level.

Thanks the East League and race organisers Lothian RC/Linlithgow AAC for putting on a great race and season’s competition, and to Susan Allan, Clare Graham and Paul Kieran for the photos.