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East District Cross Country Relay Championships 2023 Race Report

Gordon Henderson

09 October 2023

With the East District XC Relay Championships taking place near Dechmont Law I decided to maximise my short trip across the Forth by attending Livingston Parkrun for a ‘warmup’ run.  The route itself is almost a complete 5k loop (with only one short, repeated section) of mixed terrain paths meandering the banks of the River Almond.  Although I did share a laugh with the chap below (Robbie) when questioning if it would be easier running in the river itself as the conditions were [cough] wild…

It was great to see fellow Harrier, Michael, at the start line sporting his 500th parkrun t-shirt and completing his 539th overall.  Surely there can’t be many boasting numbers like that!?  It was also nice chatting with Diane & Karyn of Pitreavie AAC who shared the same idea of taking in a bit of parkrun tourism before the main event.

A quick and completely pointless drying-off in my car ensued prior to a 5-minute scoot across Livingston to Deans Community High School.  Having toiled with setting-up the club tent at previous events I was determined to get this part done first.  9 minutes later and the tent was up in record time.  My thanks to Phil of Edinburgh AC for answering my cry for help.  Ha-ha.

With the tent up, declarations processed, and numbers collected, a squad of Harriers undeterred by the inclement conditions started to filter through.  First up were our ladies with 3 full teams registered!  Shelby, Kath, and Isobel led their respective teams by completing a 4k loop before handing across to Emma, Joy, and Gail for their legs, with Charlotte, Kathryn and Angie completing the terrific trios!

I was particularly buoyed by the positive vibes coming back from the ladies, or was that because they were finished and could try and find some shelter and warmth?  Either way, it filled me with confidence knowing that everyone had such an enjoyable race.  Special shoutout to those competing at their first XC event, and an extra special shoutout to Isobel who has been selected to represent Scotland in the Masters XC next month at Tollcross.  A trailblazer on so many levels.

Now was the turn of the gents.  First off in my team was Blair, a debutant to XC, but you couldn’t tell with a blistering 15:37 setting Nils on his way to an equally impressive 17:32.  Now was my turn.  Having struggled with injury and fitness of late I was aiming for a low 19s leg, so I was delighted to register 18:44.  It must have been the Brannigans that shaved a few seconds off my time!  It was reassuring to know that Steven would be anchoring our team with him clocking 16:58 whilst hunting down those teams that had passed me.  Ha-ha.

The route itself started with a grassy descent that turned back up a gravel like path splitting through the heart of the tent area.  Nothing like the cheers from your club mates to see you up the hill only to realise that you’re not at the top (!) before heading into a woodland area.  About 1.5k of the route was then spent wading through puddles, mud, and negotiating tree roots, but nothing too technical, and dare I say it, quite enjoyable.  The final 1k was almost completely downhill bar a nasty uphill hairpin at the end.

Congratulations also to Lee, Gary, Kenny, John, Brian, and Gordon for completing our 2 other teams we had registered.  Again, special shoutout to those competing at their first XC event!  I look forward to watching you all race again at future events when I’m spectating and not racing myself.

Next up in the XC calendar is a short trip across to the Lang Toun this Saturday 14th October 2023 for the East District League Race 1.  This event does not require any form of pre-entry, so long as you are a member of Scottish Athletics and have a club vest to race in.  Who’s all coming!?