Kicking it off for this year’s winter season, Stirling University Athletic Club (SUAC) has been well represented at both Stirling’s own home cross-country kickoff event, and the Freshers Match at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
If these two events are any indicator of the capabilities of this year’s team, we can only look forward to the successful season ahead.
First up was the 3k Freshers Cross Country, hosted here at the university by SUAC themselves, on Wednesday October 11.
While welcome to anyone, runners and non-runners alike, teams from universities including Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian, and Dundee were invited to partake in this, the first official Scottish university XC race of the season.
Turnout was strong with 90 total participants, of which 34 were women and 56 men.
As a rather weather dependent event, spirits were high as the sun shone overhead most of the morning and afternoon. But consider it fate that as soon as the five-minute warning for the men’s heat was called, the rain set in.
Believe me when I say that it definitely could have been worse. But still, not ideal, because guess who got to go first?
The men (boys).
Having so kindly made giant muddy footprint holes for the women’s heat to sink into, you realise how incredibly important wearing the correct footwear becomes.
Both for the safety (and dignity) of yourself, as well as surrounding runners, spikes are essential in avoiding being dragged, or dragging others down the slip ‘n’ slide terrain.
With the two heats starting 15 minutes apart, the 3k route seemed to fly by as almost all the men had reached the finish by the time the women were called to start theirs.
To be exact, a total of 24 men finished with times faster than the first finishing woman; the first man coming in at 9 minutes and 34 seconds, and the first woman at 11 minutes and 19 seconds.
To total up the finishing results we had,
- Faisal Khursheed – Heriot-Watt University – 9:34
- Ruaridh Miller – University of Stirling – 9:38
- Strain Paton – Strathclyde University – 9:45
- Lauren McCulloch – University of Stirling – 11:19
- Sophie Collins – University of Edinburgh – 11:23
- Maddie Watson – Strathclyde University – 12:14
Strathclyde University brought home the overall trophy, asked to return with it in hand next year to pass along to the winning team of 2018.
Behind a successful event is a successful planner, and as this was a SUAC hosted event, that responsibility fell to this year’s cross country captain, Kirsty Irwin.
Speaking to her after the event, Irwin said, “Being on the committee as cross country captain for SUAC and organising the first race on this year’s event calender was an honour, not to mention also getting to organise my own race for the first time ever!”
“It wouldn’t have happened without the help of fellow committee members, specifically Jonnie Nisbet and Aidan Thompson, and of course all of our athletes who competed.
“With some great new additions to the club and strong performances in both the men’s and women’s races, we’re definitely set up for a great year in cross country running.”
Next up was a bit of a venue change with the Freshers Match at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on the following Wednesday, October 18.
This time, it was track & field captain Cara Steven hosting the responsibility of this week’s event. No athletes were ever at risk of being left behind under her watch, with thorough head-counts being taken at every opportunity.
Nothing to see here folks, just university athletes being accounted for, please commence your journey.
Arriving team intact at the arena, I was in awe of the overwhelming amount of seats available to watch us running in circles; thankfully, the majority of them remained empty.
Described by Steven as a “non-pressure, fun and friendly event” it made sense that the seats filled were purely by other athletes and not thousands of spectators.
“It’s an ideal competition to get athletes back into the way of racing again, as well as being a great starter competition for athletes who haven’t yet had experience racing.”
The team comprised of just under 20 athletes, competing in events ranging from 60m to 3000m.
Admiration shone from all teammates; with the sprinters praising the stamina of the endurance runners, and the endurance runners in awe of the speed displayed by the sprinters.
For a play by play of the day’s events you can head on over to the team’s Twitter account, where Steven made sure to keep absent teammates, friends and families updated.
One of the peaks of the day involved the qualification of not one but three Stirling athletes in the same men’s 200m final. Cameron Tindle, Devesh Tambade, and Callum Letham placing first, third and fourth overall.
The 200m wasn’t Tindle’s first win of the day, having already secured another first place with a time of 6.98 seconds in the 60m final that morning.
Equally strong performances came from the 200m women, with Georgia Brawley, Charlotte Moock, and Nicole Muirhead all qualifying for the semi-finals, with Brawley then going on to secure second place in the final.
In the 3000m, Rebecca Craig held her own alongside teammate Oliver Greenstein, as the men and women were grouped together for the total 15 laps around the 200m track.
Having placed third in the 400m final herself, Steven described the event as having a great atmosphere as well as range of great competitive performances, and is “very proud of how all the athletes have performed so far and how well the team have bonded as a whole.”
“I am very excited to see what the year ahead holds for this amazing team!”