Hawkins urges Scottish clubs to challenge Central AC’s dominance

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Commonwealth Games marathon runner Derek Hawkins has urged Scottish athletics clubs to challenge Central AC’s recent supremacy on the domestic endurance scene.

Hawkins led Kilbarchan AAC to victory for the first time in the 40-year history of the National Road Relays at Livingston to deny silver medallists Central four-in-a-row in the Senior Men’s event.

Central were missing National XC champion, Andrew Butchart, because of his World Cross involvement in China, but could still draw on GB international Scott McDonald and another Glasgow 2014 marathon runner, Ross Houston, in their team of six.

But Kilbarchan prevailed thanks to Commonwealth duo Derek and Callum Hawkins with their squad bolstered by three U20 prospects in Euan Gillham, Gavin McArdle and Callum Matthews as well as Scott MacAulay – with Derek delighted to break the recent mould in Scottish athletics.

‘Kilbarchan have only ever won bronze at this event and that was back in 199,’ said the elder of the Hawkins duo, with Ronhill Cambuslang Harriers taking bronzes in the Men’s race and Lothian Running Club winning on home ground in the Senior Women’s race.

‘I know myself I have not won any relay either in road or cross except at county level. We have some promising U20 guys and that’s what has made the difference this time.

‘Over the past few years, we’ve only really had Callum at that age to add to the Seniors to complete the team. But this was a strong team and we’re delighted to win it. And it always helps when you have someone of Callum’s calibre on the final leg.

‘You want to see more depth in competition in athletics in Scotland in our National Championships events, so if we have contributed to that in a small way then that’s pleasing. Maybe this can spark a reaction.

‘I’m sure it will give Central a wee jolt and if may give other clubs a wee jolt, as well, and that would be better for everyone in my opinion. What I mean is: maybe others can think they can be more competitive if they can pull together their strongest team.’

Callum Hawkins was 14 seconds down on Houston for the final, long leg over 5.8 miles and the Glasgow 2014 marathon man held off the Hampden 10,000m runner initially.

‘It took me quite some time to get beyond Ross and he ran extremely well,’ said Callum.

‘I don’t really know how far it was in terms of the distance and up on the long road section I was trying to stretch it but he kept pretty close. Ross had me worried for a bit at that stage but we are delighted to win gold medals. It was a really good team effort by all six athletes.’

Houston showed a classy streak on Twitter later as he congratulated Kilbarchan. He tweeted: ‘Good day at SALRelays: tried to hang on as the Kilbarchan AAC bus drove past, but Callum Hawkins was speeding.’

Lothian Running Club were indebted to a superb last leg run from Canada-based student, Sarah Inglis, to bring them success from Fife AC and Inverness Harriers.

Sarah, who is at Trinity Western University in Vancouver, is in Scotland for five weeks and had been told in no uncertain terms some time ago that Lothian wanted her to run the Road Relays. The rest of the team was Edel Mooney, Yvonne Crilly and Jo Williams.

‘I enjoyed it because I have trained on that route often enough down a number of years,’ said Inglis.

‘I wanted to run the event and thankfully it coincides with me being home at the moment for a few weeks. When I return to Canada, I then have a four-week spell of altitude training coming up in Boulder which will prepare me for the summer season. I am looking forward to the track.’

The Women’s race also featured the very welcome sight of Freya Ross in an Edinburgh AC vest in competitive action once again. The Olympian has been running a few Parkruns recently as she recovers from injury and Livingston was another step on the road to recovery.

Ronhill Cambuslang won the Men’s Masters race with golds for: Jamie Reid, Kerry Liam Wilson, Craig Harrow, Greg Hastie, Mick O’Hagan and Stevie Wylie. Kirkintilloch Olympians were second and Shettleston were third.

In the Women’s Masters race, Gala Harriers were gold medallists again thanks to Fiona Dalgleish, Gillian Duncan, Rachal Fagan and Kate Jenkins with Bellahouston Harriers taking silvers and bronzes.

Ronhill Cambuslang added the Men’s V50 title thanks to Dave Thom, Paul Thompson, Chris Upson and Colin Feechan. Falkirk Victoria Harriers won the Women’s V50 golds thanks to Beryl Junior, Fiona Matheson and Janette Stevenson.