The 2019 Babcock 10K series got off to a flying start at Helensburgh last Thursday night (9 May). There was a record entry of 700 plus and the big field enjoyed a pleasant course around tree-lined residential streets and along the seafront.
Supporters around the fast and relatively flat course watched top performances in both the men's and women's races. Last year's women's champion Katie White missed the race through injury but was on hand to send the runners on their way. In her absence Annabel Simpson (Fife AC) put in a bold performance and running at inside 3.30 minutes per kilometre she was rewarded with a course record of 34.48.
Annabel was the first ever recipient of the Taylor Wimpey, West Scotland Trophy for the leading woman. Christina Rankin from Kilbarchan was just outside the old record with 35.37 and the ever green Jill Knowles (38.23) from Scottish Prisons Service impressed as first over40 in third place.
Meanwhile in the men's race Inverclyde’s reigning Scottish Cross Country champion, Adam Craig was up against Shettleston Harrier Weynay Ghebresilassie. The Eritrean Olympian was disappointed with his recent run at London Marathon despite winning the mass start/non elite race in 2:17:00. Paul Sorrie, a twice winner, and a clutch of talented youngsters from Shettleston made up the front row where they had Rio Olympian Derek Hawkins' course record of 30:28 from 2015 in mind
Craig set off at a determined sub 30 minute pace but Ghebresilassie gave no ground and ran shoulder to shoulder with the Inverclyde man for the first 6km to Kidston Park. As they turned away from the seafront Ghebresilassie moved up a gear and powered round the final 4km at well inside 3 mins per kilometre to bring him home inside his own series record of 30:11 set on Glasgow Green in 2017. His record breaking run was timed at 29:32 and his final kilometre was probably his quickest.
Craig running a controlled effort and under strict instructions from his coach not to break 30mins, duly obliged with an impressive level of precision in 30:02 also inside the Babcock Series record.
18-year-old Lewis Raeburn, part of John Mackay’s impressive stable of young talent at Shettleston surged to an impressive third place in 32.31. Shettleston Harriers with 10 points were comfortable team winners ahead of Bellahouston Harriers (19 points) and Inverclyde on (28). Dumbarton (Lindsey Currie, Nikki Lyons and Vigil Garcia) dominated the women’s team race ahead of Garscube Harriers and Scottish Prisons Service.
The mid-point runner clocked a speedy 47:42 highlighting the quality of runners throughout the field and the final runner stopped his watch on 1:36:16.
The series now moves on to Dumbarton on Thursday (16 May) where internationals Adam Craig, Luke Traynor and Sean Fontana are planning an attack on the course record of 29.40 set by Eritrean international Tewelde Mengisteab in 2009