How the West was won – West District XC Relays

Note these are my individual views, and not those of Motherwell AC, The West District or Scottish Athletics.

With the West Districts XC relays looming, despite my lack of training I decided to do MACs monthly handicap time trial. I hadn’t managed one since July and on that day I was at my season’s peak and set a PB, so with my handicap based on that I was fully expecting the wooden spoon and last place. Somehow I managed to pass a couple of people and was happy with a time just over a minute outside my best on the 4 mile course. Unfortunately my back didn’t quite enjoy it as much and I was forced to withdraw from the relays and haven’t run since. With MAC hosting the relays it was therefore time to swap the spikes for the Marshall vest and see the event from a different perspective.

Now my day almost lasted less than 5 minutes after a brush with a mini Hitler as I arrived at Hamilton Racecourse. Some people should give a thought to people that are giving up their full day and shouldn’t speak to them like they are a piece of sh*te on their shoe. Wondering why I should actually bother my arse I left the racecourse again in order to calm down before I did something I regretted. After a few minutes I came back in and thankfully met up with other members of the team who were showing a better attitude to the day ahead. Gary Wood thought he was a cross between Eric Cartman and a Top Gun reject.


Colin Ferguson was 7 marshalls himself. What a change it made to see a bit of what goes into organising these events.

Now I am not wanting any glory as I was merely a course Marshall at what became known as “Gallacher Corner” (we only “lost” one runner) but had a good gawp at everything else, and the work that was being put in and had been for the two days prior. From a MAC perspective the organisation work of Clare Barr, John Hughes and Ewen Cameron in particular deserves major kudos. Simply put, every race I run going forward (if I can indeed shake off my niggles) will be looked at in a different light. Behind every race we do is a team of people giving up their time so that we can have our races. To the people that do this every week at our parkruns, our championships etc etc, I salute you.

I had a wee walk round the course, jealous of all the people warming up. Due to some late changes that had to be made to the course I was going to be marshalling at “Gallacher Corner”. This was probably about 400m from the finish and was a stretch coming down a slope towards a sharp left where there was then an uphill gravel section and circular loop to the finish. Our wee aim at our section was to make sure people turned the sharp left and didn’t go out the gates to the carpark, and also to make sure people stopped hugging the side of the racecourse itself as this would take them of course.

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We lost one athlete who didn’t listen as I called her back, then screamed at her to come back. She turned and gave me a look that would turned a whole cow sour, never mind milk, and we made a few late adaptations after the leaders of the junior male race almost did the same, but as a whole I think we winged it. Our secondary aim after this, due to the fact we are “runners” ourselves was to try and encourage the athletes themselves. I saw the same level of determination in the tail runners as I did in the lead runners. There were smiles, waves, looks of steely determination, some tears, but my favourite was the runner who after I warned her about the forthcoming tight left bend simply turned and shouted “Help!”. My general shout was one of encouragement followed by “Sharp left at the bottom”, “Tight turn at the bottom” or words of that ilk. I do apologise for flummoxing my words at one stage and merely shouting “Sharp bottom”. Thankfully I didn’t shout “Tight bottom” or I think one of the Bella male runners would probably have decked me. I loved watching the races develop being at the 400 to go stage and able to see the runners finish as well. I got to see runners that I usually only see from the back and watch the races develop. A real treat.

Well done to Kilbarchan winning both young females and young males, fantastic in depth performances in each. The finish to the young males race was very exciting with only 12 seconds covering the 2nd to 5th teams. VP-Glasgow dominated the women’s race with Josephine Moultrie’s last leg run a powerful piece of XC racing. The Men’s race was exciting from start to finish, the lead changing hands so many times over the 4 legs. Shettleston’s Kamil Sierecai holding off Inverclyde’s Craig Ruddy in a great finish. It was pleasing to see some good performances from the under 20s in the race too, with an exceptional first leg by Cambuslang’s Ryan Thomson and a powerful second leg by Inverclyde’s Jonny Glen. Cambuslang’s Vet victory saw my favourite image of the day, Jamie Reid showing the spirit of the event. Great shot by Bobby Gavin.

12087101_977253898985217_5594103281679207521_oI enjoyed cheering on people I have got to know over my last year of competing, seeing great running from the likes of Steven Hill, Kerry-Liam Wilson, Andy McLinden, Henry Merriweather, John Bell, David Stirling and Bobby Hill. I enjoyed cheering on the people I didn’t know, seeing the effort being put in through the field. I saw runners like Gordon Reid I used to race against in my junior days. Though consumed with jealousy I enjoyed watching all the MAC teams and was proud of their running, in particular Jim White who had a great run in his first XC race. (But don’t tell him that, we don’t want the legend in lycra’s head getting too big for his perfectly coiffured hair.) So there you have it. A different kind of day, and one we should maybe all do at some stage. These people that run all these events for us, so meticulously, will always need help, no matter how small it is (as my contribution was). Maybe next time you are unable to run pop along and give a wee hand, with the right spirit it’s a right good day. Later blogpeeps.

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