Andrew Butchart recently ran the fastest leg at the English 6-Stage Road Relays as Scottish club Central AC finished fourth.
He added that personal accolade to the same status from the 12-stage English Road Relays earlier in 2014 – with Mo Farah understood to be the last athlete to do that particular double some years ago.
So it really should not have been a huge surprise that Butchart, on the anchor leg for holders Central AC in the Scottish National Cross Country Relays – the first event of the Lindsays Cross Country season – at Cumbernauld on Saturday, should overhaul Inverclyde to make it three-in-a-row for his club.
A GB Senior vest at the European Cross Country Champs in Bulgaria in December is now a major target for Butchart, who did achieve GB representative honours at the Edinburgh XC in January.
‘I am in with the Seniors now for the Liverpool trial at the end for November – just missing the U23 age-group,’ said Butchart, whose 12.20 over 4k in wet and windy conditions was impressive and edged Callum Hawkins of Kilbarchan AAC by three seconds.
‘I almost wish the Trial was right now but I have to give it a bash to try and get in the Senior team.
‘I was close to selection last year and everything is going well right now. I will represent Scotland at the Leeds 10K a fortnight before Liverpool and Kilbarchan’s Callum Hawkins is a team-mate for that – I will try to hang onto Callum and get a fast time.’
Butchart led Central home for victory with his team-mates triathlete Cameron Milne, GB international Scott McDonald and current Scottish Inter-District champion Alex Hendry, Inverclyde had to settle for second with Hawkins, who represented Team Scotland in 10,000m on the track at Glasgow 2014, taking a bronze with Kilbarchan.
Andrew Butchart crossing the line for Central AC. Photo: Bobby Gavin.
That Kilbarchan team were remarkable podium occupants with Bobby Quinn turning 49 in December in his 34th season in cross country joining Commonwealth athlete Hawkins and two 17-year-olds in U20 athletes Euan Gillham and Gavin McArdle.
Quinn, a regular National title winner in his prime, joked he had more years on the clock than his three team-mates put together, but not quite. More XC miles, certainly.
It was also a joy day for Central AC women as they, too, made it three years in a row as Scottish National XC Relay champions.
Edinburgh Uni’s Rhona Auckland – another GB International with the Euro Trial in Liverpool on November 29 on her mind – gave the students a big first leg lead against U20 Kathryn Gillespie but Central’s Jennifer Emsley pulled back the deficit and anchor woman Morag MacLarty retained their title. Edinburgh AC took second with Edinburgh Uni in third.
‘I think Jenny was the one who closed the gap the most,’ said MacLarty, second fastest behind Auckland on the lap times.
‘I believe when she took it on we were maybe more than 60 seconds behind but it was only 20 when she handed to me. That’s three in a row for Central and we’re delighted with that.
‘Kathryn has stepped up in her first race as an Under 20 and I know she took here 1500m track time down significantly at the end of the season to 4.19. So that’s another really good athlete with us to add to people like Lindsay Morrison and Fiona Thompson, who were not running today – it is a good squad.
‘Rhona had a fantastic opening leg for Edinburgh Uni. She went off like a rocket.’
Rhona Auckland in action. Photo: Bobby Gavin
Laura Muir ran the second leg for Glasgow Uni – as she did the previous year – and the GB International plans to be at Bellahouston for the 4K.
In the Junior Races, with each team featuring U13, U15 and U17 athlete, Giffnock North and Edinburgh AC celebrated National XC Relay title success in the Young Females and Young Males races respectively. Kilbarchan AAC were silver medallists in both categories and Central third in the Young Females and Giffnock third in the Young Males.
Cambuslang picked up the Men’s vets title from Greenock Glenpark with Kirkintilloch Olympians taking bronze. Shettleston Harriers won the V50 men’s crown, overhauling Cambuslang, with Edinburgh AC in third.
Central AC won the Women’s V50 category from Giffnock North and Kirkintilloch with the Women’s V40 golds collected by Gala Harriers from Edinburgh AC and Kirkintilloch.