Mixed blessings for Giffnock runners

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GIFFNOCK NORTH AAC’S cross country squad made the long trek to Sefton Park, Liverpool, and came home with tales of triumph and disappointment in almost equal measure.

GB international hopefuls Luke Traynor and Neil Gourley, in the U23 10k and U20 7k respectively, both started out to the fore in their lead groups, only to fade as some of the UK’s toughest athletes showed no mercy in the chase for places to the European Championships in Bulgaria later this month. Traynor, who has raced outstandingly in recent weeks, vowed to channel his disappointment into the imminent West District selection race for the prestigious Inter Districts event in January in Edinburgh.

Further down the age groups, fortune smiled more brightly on the southsiders. U15 Erin Wallace calmly stalked the lead bunch throughout the leafy, twisting 3k course before striking for home with 400m to go, holding off Wimborne’s Grace Copeland in the final 100 for a thrilling win.

Hamish Armitt and Heather Barnes in their U13 3k races both claimed fine bronze medals, with Annabel Ballantyne’s fighting fifth also catching the eye, while Isla Ward took silver in the U11 2k.

Giffnock contested all eight junior races, contributing significantly to a big Scottish contingent which enjoyed remarkable success on the day, taking both U23 and senior men’s titles. Scotland expects as many as six athletes to be named in Team GB for Bulgaria.