2 Jun

Cambuslang the Brave

Ronhill Cambuslang Harriers are no strangers to success at the UK veteran championships which are held annually at Sutton Park (Brirmingham). Cambuslang's 8-man M40 team had previously secured victory in 1999, 2003 and 2004, and the 6-man M50 and the 4-man M35 squads did likewise last year. However, it was difficult to know how this year's races would unfold as the age bandings had been changed controversially to M35; M45 and M55. Injuries resulted in the Lanarkshire club having to withdraw their M45 team and their medal hopes realistically rested on the youngest age group (M35).

The team had travelled down on the Friday and had walked around the testing course, on the Saturday morning before the race started. It was important that the newcomers and old hands acquainted/re-acquainted themselves with the early and later hills, particularly to avoid over-cooking the pace in the early stages, as can sometimes happen on this course (and did happen later on to one of the leading contenders).

The daunting and important first leg was entrusted to Alan Ramage who was making his debut, in this event. The leg was hotly contested with several clubs putting out their strongest runners. Paul Ward of Telford, the UK vets bronze cross country medallist, was first home in 15.16 with Alan coming in a creditable 25th with a time of 16.33.

This gave second leg runner, Johnny MacNamara, who had not raced since February through injury, the opportunity to charge through the field and advance the Cambuslang cause. Johnny's impressive time of 16.12 took Cambuslang to 10th spot. The momentum continued with late call up, Mick O'Hagan, taking the team to 8th place, with a time of 17.01.

Robert Gilroy, recent winner of the Lochaber marathon, made a successful veteran debut by running the course in a time of 15.28 and taking the Lanarkshire team into second place, just 58 seconds behind the English leaders, Wells City.

With Salford and Morpeth in hot pursuit, Greg Hastie, the Scottish vets 800m champion, did extremely well, not only maintaining second place but also clawing back a further 16 seconds on Wells, with a time of 16.25. With Salford only 25 seconds behind, the in-form Kerry-Liam Wilson was given the task of putting Cambuslang into the lead and the Scottish M40 marathon and cross country champion did exactly that. The Ayrshire man's time of 15.12, the third fastest leg of the day, put the club in pole position, with a healthy 1 minute 51 seconds lead over Salford, who had also caught Wells City.

The experienced Iain Campbell ran a lonely but strong seventh leg to increase Cambuslang's lead over Salford by a further 22 seconds, with Morpeth climbing to third place. The 51 year old East Kilbride man ran with the same determination he has previously shown as a junior and senior Scottish internationalist.

Going into the final leg the three leading teams had strong representatives, the pick of the bunch being Salford's Martin Cox, who had just seen his course record taken from him by Ian Hudspith. Although Cox gained 22 seconds on former Scottish marathon and 50K champion Jamie Reid, the final outcome was never in doubt as the Cambuslang captain ran a very controlled and impressive 15.33, for a 1 minute 53 seconds victory.

This was the second year in a row that the reliable Jamie had anchored Cambuslang to a UK vet relay title but all 8 runners had played their part in securing the new title for the famous Scottish club.