Callum Hawkins returned to his cross country roots as he raced across the mud and hills of Cumbernauld on Saturday in his first outing since his superb – but agonising – performance in the IAAF World Champs marathon ended with fourth place in Doha.
The Olympian’s presence thrilled big crowds at the Lindsays National XC Relays on a day when Central AC made it seven wins in eight years in the Senior Men’s race and Edinburgh Uni Hare and Hounds made it four-in-a-row with Senior Women’s gold.
Hawkins helped his Kilbarchan AAC team-mates to silver medals but he admitted racing only three weeks after Doha was something of a shock to the system.
‘I could have been quicker today but I’ve had hardly any running since the World Champs,’ said Callum, who clocked 12.13 for the 4k leg.
‘I set off on the first straight before the opening hill and the cold air caught me straight in the chest! It’s not what I’ve been used to recently and of course I’ve had a fair bit of down time since Doha.
‘But it was great to wear the club vest again for Kilbarchan and the noise and support out on the course for all the athletes was absolutely terrific. I thought we might have a chance of winning it but it wasn’t to be on the day with Central AC very strong.
‘I loved the support and the crowds because Scottish cross country events are where it all began for me. It’s great to see the level the events are reaching and the numbers now involved.’
On his Doha reflections now, he said: ‘It’s three weeks on and the performance feels slightly better.
‘But I think I will still always regard it as a missed opportunity to win a global medal. I’m still wracking my brain to see if there is anything else I could have done differently but, at the end of the day, it is over and I have to look ahead now.’
Cameron Milne and Conan McCaughey flew in from Holland and Ireland respectively to help Central AC’s cause, and they had their team in second at the halfway stage. Alastair Hay, a two-time National XC champion, duly pushed them into first and did well only to concede five seconds to Hawkins before Jamie Crowe brought it home for Central AC.
‘I have been in America for a couple of year so it was great to come back and be on the anchor leg,’ said Scotland international Crowe, with Central winning in 49.16 and 44 seconds clear of Kilbarchan.
‘We changed the order from the East Relays a couple of weeks ago – with Alastair Hay on the third leg this time, up against Callum Hawkins as it happened, and myself on the last leg. Derek Easton (our coach) always has a plan.
‘Seven wins in eight years is quite a record and everyone at the club is very proud of that. It starts from being tough to get in the first team!
‘Cameron has come over from Holland and Conan from Ireland so that shows you the level of commitment and the desire to wear that yellow vest.
‘The guys gave me a bit of a lead but I went off pretty hard and then worked it from there. We didn’t win at the Easts but it is all about National medals and being top of the podium with golds is a superb feeling.’
Edinburgh Uni were seventh after the opening leg from Rebecca Johnson – with Fife AC’s Jenny Selman and Eloise Walker of Glasgow Uni out in front – but Constance Nankivel brought the students into a lead they never relinquished via third leg runner Eilidh Jaffray and Holly Page.
Anchor runner Page is a GB Junior international in the steeplechase, who was ninth at the Euro U20s, and she led her team home in 58.40 and a winning margin of 79 seconds.
‘I helped Edinburgh Uni win here last year in my first year in Scotland and it’s great to repeat that success,’ said Holly, who was sixth in the English National XC in 2018.
‘It’s different names again but we’ve put in a strong team effort. I didn’t do Relays in England because my club was too small so I really enjoy this and I’m planning to race the Lindsays National XC at Falkirk this year.’
Edinburgh AC took third and Erin Wallace on the last leg helped Giffnock North to a coveted podium place.
Long before those medals were awarded, Giffnock had enjoyed a good day. The Glasgow outfit won the Young Males race with the efforts of Greg Shennan, Reuben McDonald and Harris Paterson proving decisive. Fife AC took the silvers and Central AC landed the bronzes.
Fife AC are blessed with some fine young talent at the moment – boys and girls – and that was clear in the Young Females race.
Last year, the golds were won for the first time and this year the trio of Katie Sandilands, Isla Thoms and Anna Hedley delivered a successful defence to top the podium once again. There were silvers for Giffnock North AC and bronze medals for Edinburgh AC.
The Masters golds went to Corstorphine AAC men and Bellahouston Road Runners women. The V50 titles went to Perth Road Runners (men) and Edinburgh AC (women).