Balgownie playing fields in Aberdeen was the venue for the East District XC Champs on Saturday the 3rd but any thoughts of a pancake flat course simply looping round football and rugby pitches were soon dispelled on arrival. The tough undulating course mostly followed the extensive perimeter of the sizeable park but incorporated several twists and turns, a couple of long uphill drags, some short wooded sections and an area of scrubland. It certainly provided a true cross-country test even if, for the old die-hards, there wasn't a section of plough or any burns to traverse.
Conditions were perfect - as long as you had on enough layers - with a little give in the ground and blue skies. Despite the single figure temperature, thankfully there was hardly even the lightest of breezes, thus negating any possible wind-chill on what was a pretty exposed location.
It was a good 3-hour drive to get there, which accounted for a few absentees, but a fair few of the Moorfoot contingent drove up the day before for various lodgings in Aberdeen. (And there was no evidence of any sore heads amongst the dads on Saturday morning!) Others broke the Saturday morning drive up with a stop at Peggy Scott's services at Finavon near Forfar for a braw braw breakfast. Bobby Mooney highly recommends the Big Jock giant breakfast!
Madeline Collins was the sole Moorfoot in the U13 girls race over 3.1km. She is a first-year in the age group and delivered a good well-paced effort for 30th of 46 finishers in 13.03.
There were no U13 Moorfoot boys so next up were the U15 girls racing over 4km. Charlotte Clare had a typically gutsy run for 10th in 15.49 which will surely be enough to gain her selection for the East team for the Inter-District Championships at Holyrood Park in January. (Top eight gained automatic selection with another seven to be selected at the selectors' discretion.) Eilidh Mooney finished well for 25th in 17.07 with Charlotte Morrison just two places and eight seconds behind. That placed the U15 girls team 6th overall. Both Eilidh and Charlotte M are still in this age-group next year.
Ethan Elder continued his comeback in the U15 boys' race over the same 4km course and whilst still a little shy of his best he had a good run for 21st in 14.56. Craig Angus continued his good form just behind Ethan in 23rd in 14.59
The U17 women raced alongside the U20 women which made for some difficulty in gauging who was where during the race but Mairi Wallace, had a strong run for 11th in the U17 category, coming home strongly in 18.53 for the 4.9km course, and Fiona Grant was 22nd in 20.40. There was also a storming run by Moorfoot trained Ailsa Innes in the Lasswade vest, finishing 13th in 19.09 which with a bit of luck might just sneak her into the Inter-District team along with Mairi. In the same race but in the U20 women's category, Niamh Shaw, another Moorfoot in a Lasswade vest, was 9th U20 in 19.07. Likewise, Euan Hood raced in the U17 Men's race in the Lasswade vest and had a solid run for 22nd in 23.45 over the 6.6km course.
The senior women raced the same 6.6km course and Edinburgh University student Sophie Collins continued her excellent form to finish 11th in 24.38.
And so to the final race of the day, the senior men's race over 9.7km in which Jacob Adkin continued his gradual comeback from shin splints to finish 25th in 32.54, two places and nine seconds ahead of ex-Moorfoot Mike Reid. Home in 159th of the 187 finishers was Franco's favourite runner Alan Elder. His time of 42.02 saw him 16th M50 by my reckoning. He will no doubt add his own more poetic report of his experience