Mairi Wallace, Beth Hobbs and Corran Carrick Anderson made the trip to the slopes of Colsnaur in the Ochil Hills above Menstrie on Sunday for the final round of the Scottish Athletics Junior Hill Running League which doubled as the U17 and U20 Scotland trials for the Junior Home International in September.
In what proved to be a select and hotly contested Under 17 trial race, on a hill significantly less steep than the forthcoming International venue, Mairi found herself a bit tapped for toe over the 3.1km/300m uphill only course by recent converts to the hill running scene the McKenna twins from the endurance breeding ground that is the Giffnock North club.
Scottish cross-country runner-up Lynn McKenna (hidden above) was first to cross the line in 16 minutes 54 seconds with twin sister Charlotte (also tucked in at the back above) only six seconds behind. Scottish hill running champion Grace Whelan from Moray was third in 17.15 just getting the better of Mairi who was a close 4th in 17.21. It was then a 44 second gap back to her nearest challengers, Scottish Schools champion Nuala McCheyne from Inverclyde and Scottish steeplechase bronze medallist Zoe Nicholson from Pitreavie, both of whom Mairi had vied with at the Cademuir Rollercoaster when Zoe prevailed on the downhill finish.
With the McKenna girls securing the two automatic selections for the Scotland U17 team for the Junior Home International, it's an anxious wait for Mairi to see if she is selected for one of the two remaining places in the team of four. Hopefully she will gain her third Scotland vest in the Junior Home International which takes place on 17 September on the slopes of Skiddaw near Keswick in the Lake District.
Gregor says "It's been a bit of a risk to prepare Mairi for Skiddaw's average 20% gradient rather than specifically for the trial (10% gradient) and fingers crossed clear 4th will be good enough for her to gain selection for what would be her third Scotland vest. Otherwise I might be getting the boot."
Beth and Corranwere racing in the Under 15 hill league (non-trial) and both ran very well for second place in their respective races. That was enough to secure the Under 15 Girls league title for Beth to go along with her Scottish Championship win back in May. Corran was having his first race of the summer following a busy and successful season on the bike, demonstrating a good cross-over between mountain biking and hill running. Both were delighted with their prize of a chocolate orange!