Scotland win SHI’s!!!
Scotland win the Senior Home Internationals in a closely fought battle over 2 days of racing on Irish open hillsides.
Ireland were the hosts of this year’s Senior Home International, which saw an 18-strong contingent from Scotland making their way across the water to compete for the overall title. We were the reigning champions having won for the last 2 years, but the points are usually pretty close so we were prepared for a tough battle.
First up were the relays, up on the open hillside, Carnawaddy. From the assembly we could see a large part of the area and it was looking fast but tricky. Men’s and women’s classes are separate with each team consisting of two 21’s and one 20, to be run in any order. In the women’s class, first up were Katrina, Kirsten and Jessica O, whilst the English were the only team to field all their 20’s on this first leg. Unfortunately, the Welsh team were without W20’s (due to the clash with the Junior Inter Regionals), so didn’t have a competitive team in the line-up. 2 English teams emerged first, with Kirsten and the 3rd English team hot on their tails. Kirsten handed over to Roz, whilst Katrina and Jessica finished just over 5 minutes behind to changeover to Jo and Rona. The English really dominated this leg, with all 3 coming in a couple of minutes apart to send off 2 WOC runners, Tessa and Sarah, along with Abi Weeds. Unfortunately we just couldn’t match their pace, and our 3rd leg runners were sent off about 10 minutes behind. The Scottish trio were also being chased down by Aine McCann of Ireland, only 1 minute behind. 2 Scottish teams stayed ahead of Aine, so the finishing score was England 1st and 2nd (the 3rd team had to stop to help an injured M20), Scotland 3rd and 4th, followed by Ireland in 5th.
The men’s race was a lot closer with Scotland deciding to send off all M20’s on first leg, although they were up against a strong line-up with other nations having different tactics. The men had a run through over the hillside we could see before heading back out again for a final loop, however with the mist coming and going it was tough to spot the blue tops of Scotland! Andrew Lindsay was our first finisher, coming in in 6th place, 7 minutes behind an impressive run from Kris Jones of Wales. After 1st leg the standings were looking good for Ireland, who were in 2nd, 3rd and 4th! Andrew and Craig both finished in touch with 2 of the English teams, whilst Jack wasn’t able to complete the course after suffering from illness. James and Will were sent off on the hunt for the teams in front. James pulled up time, to finish in 3rd, sending Murray off about 4minutes behind the leaders of England and Ireland. Will had a strong run to keep even with England’s 2nd team and overtook one of Ireland’s teams. Last leg was an exciting affair, with reports that Murray had been seen with Dave Schorah of the first English team, with Jack Millar for Ireland hot on their tails. Alasdair was also doing the business for Scotland in another battle with England and Ireland, 10 minutes behind, whilst the Welsh team were in no-man’s land inbetween the 2 closely fought battles. With 4 controls to go, Murray was in the lead, however a costly mistake with only a few minutes left of running forced him back into 2nd place, racing to stay ahead of Ireland. Dave (ENG)appeared over the hill in first, with Murray less than a minute behind and Jack (IRE) only 40 seconds behind him to decide the top 3.
We then bundled back to Carlingford Adventure Centre (stopping for blackberry picking on the way), for a good feed to get us prepared for the mountain that looms over the town where we were to race the next day. Ma Baker’s offered some local refreshments for the teams, before an early retiral for bed to mull over the job that we needed to do the next day. Currently, England were leading 26 points to 22, with Ireland on 15 and Wales 5.
On the morning walk to breakfast on Sunday, many of the team looked up at the mountain and noticed the thick layer of cloud sitting over it. To say it looked ominous would be an understatement. With a lot of strong runners in our midst, we were confident about the vast amounts of climb (800m for the M21’s!!), but the reduced visibility would add to what was already a big challenge. By the time we arrived at the assembly, there were no signs of the cloud shifting, so we had a think about how best to approach this race…with caution!!
The Scots fought hard today, knowing what was at stake. Definitely worth a mention is we were the only team who didn’t have any DNF’s! This was vital in the M20’s as we were the only nation to have enough counters, well done boys!! There were a lot of big mistakes up on the hillside today. As soon as you lost any map contact it was very difficult to relocate with the visibility possibly at about 20m. This also meant that you could pass runners (or be passed!) without knowing. As more runners emerged from the mist, the results were starting to take shape. In the W20’s, Zoe Harding (ENG) had a very impressive run, taking the lead by a big margin. Katrina kept her nerve up in the mist to finish strongly in 3rd. In the M20’s, Ireland came out on top with a win from Jack Millar. Andrew and Jack finished off the top 3 for Scotland. In the W21’s it was a case of who could keep their head, the splits certainly make for entertaining viewing. Again, it was a win for Ireland, with Toni O’Donovan not succumbing to the distractions of others just a few controls from the end. Jess finished in 2nd for Scotland, with Helen Gardner (ENG) in 3rd. Finally the M21’s class was a much closer battle at the top than in some of the others. Kris Jones took the lead for Wales, with Scotland hot on his heels with Alasdair, James and Murray in 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
England had beaten the girls in both classes (very narrowly in the W21’s); however Scotland had dominated the men’s classes, with Ireland also beating the English. This gave us enough of a margin over the English in the individual to take the overall title! Congratulations to all those in the team, you all showed impressive perseverance out on the hill on Sunday and this is where the race was won and lost.
Our thanks must go to Philip Baxter and all those who helped put on a great weekend of racing. Sunday’s event was a race that will surely go down in Home International history. We look forward to welcoming you all to Scotland in 2014!! http://www.racethecastles.com
1. Kris Jones Wales 94:10
2. Alasdair McLeod Scotland 95:01
3. James Tullie Scotland 97:36
4. Murray Strain Scotland 99:07
11. Kyle Heron Scotland 127:33
13. Ross McLennan Scotland 133:53
14. Will Hensman Scotland 135:39
1. Jack Millar Ireland 90:16
2. Andrew Lindsay Scotland 98:06
3. Jack Gomersall Scotland 110:46
5. Craig Nolan Scotland 128:55
1. Toni O’Donovan Ireland 88:09
2. Jessica Tullie Scotland 89:49
3. Helen Gardner England 92:14
7. Kirsten Strain Scotland 97:58
11. Fiona Berrow Scotland 100:06
12. Kirstin Maxwell Scotland 100:18
16. Jessica Orr Scotland 108:23
17. Jo Shepherd Scotland 117:02
1. Zoe Harding England 64:14
2. Natalie Beadle England 81:13
3. Katrina McLeod Scotland 85:06
4. Rona Lindsay Scotland 89:33
8. Roz Shepherd Scotland 113:01
1. ENG (Harding, Gardner, Rollins) 112:10
2. ENG (Jones, Holmes, Hill) 114:19
3. SCO (McLeod, Shepherd, Tullie) 123:25
4. SCO (Orr, Lindsay, Berrow) 127:12
6. SCO (Strain, R Sheperd, Maxwell) 133:57
1. ENG (Gardner, Archer, Schorah) 133:38
2. SCO (Lindsay, Tullie, Strain) 134:32
3. IRL (Short, Moran, Millar) 135:13
5. SCO (Nolan, Hensman, McLeod) 148:32
Kirsten has more photos here: https://picasaweb.google.com/100242377015840559930/28092013SHIs#