Scottish XC Championships

Scottish XC Championships


Published: 4 September

Paton and Craigie take the Elite titles at the Scottish Championsips in Kirroughtree.

Young Iain Paton (19) from Golspie was the 2012 Junior Scottish Champion, and made his first foray into the world of Elite racing at the 2013 Championships. Riding a storming race leading through the arena on lap one with an 18 and a half minute lap, to coming in home just one minute ahead of his nearest rival, the teenager picked up his first senior Scottish title. After  an hour and a half of high intensity racing, second place went to Rob Friel of Santa Cruz Cycles, already confirmed as Scottish Series winner with a resounding points margin. Unfortunately, a puncture put paid to a stronger challenge on Paton, however Friel showed his strength in an impressive chase in the latter half of the race.  Third place went to the English Joe Norledge, with Scottish rider Douglas Shearer (Innerleithen MTB Racing) rounding off the Scottish Champions podium in third place. All in all, the Elite mens race was a hard fought and exciting spectacle, with all the riders coming around the first lap within a minute of each other, with the long, technical climb splitting the pack. Another prominent feature was the last fire track stretch to the finish which favored those riders who could push a big gear, and grimace through the pain, fending off attacks of lactic acid to chase down the rider ahead.

The Elite women had also completed five laps of the same grueling course earlier in the day. It was a veritable who’s who of the Scottish mountain bike scene. The reigning British Champion, and 2012 Scottish Champion, Lee Craigie (Cannondale), lined up in her red, white and blue National jersey ready to take on her three fellow competitors. Kerry McPhee of Rock & Road Cycles was looking to make it two Championships in one weekend, having won the Scottish Cross Triathlon on the Saturday. In her first season racing cross country MTB, Kerry has been a true force, regularly placing in the top ten at the British National events. Gridded first was the series leader going into the final event Morven Brown (Dales Cycles), for whom a second place finish would clinch her first Elite Scottish title. And hoping to put a spanner in the works was full-time road cyclist for Breast Cancer Care Cycling Team, Eileen Roe, who, despite racing mostly on the road, should never be underestimated in a mountain bike race. Craigie rode away strongly from the gun, leading the race from start to finish and sailing down the technical rocky sections with all the ease that you would expect from a Commonwealth Games hopeful. McPhee, who up until 10minutes before the start didn’t have a rear skewer and had spent the morning looking for a loan bike, stayed calm to take second position. The final Scottish Championship podium spot went to Roe, who was out racing on the tough course for over two hours. A first lap puncture and an extremely long run put paid to Brown’s medal hopes.

Stuart Wilcox (Scott UK) romped home in the Junior category to take the victory with almost a 10minute margin over his nearest rival Calum Russell (Ben Wyvis CC). In 2012, Stuart had a disappointing 5th at the Championships so took full advantage of the fine form he has found at this late stage in the season. In the Junior girls category, Isla Short (WXC Racing) built on an extremely impressive victory at the final round of the British series, to claim the Scottish Championships, with lap times so fast, they would have placed her second in the Elite category.

There was last lap drama in the Youth category, as Calum Magowan, riding in the jersey of the British Champion for Team Peebles CC/Alpine Bikes, suffered a puncture. With second place, Pearce Sommerville of Rockhard MBC quickly catching him, Calum jumped back on his bike and forced the bike to the finish. Riding on a flat tyre takes extreme skill and leg effort, alongside the cost of replacing the now damaged wheel rim! However, for Calum it was worth it and he took his second consecutive Scottish Youth Championship title. Sommerville crossed the line in second, only 40 seconds down on Magowan, with Elliot Metcalfe (Nutcracker Racing) in third. Another British Champion, Erika Allen (Thomsons Cycles), did the double, taking the Scottish title in a strong race ahead of Martha Gill (Bolton Hot Wheels CC), with Ella Conolly of Ben Wyvis CC only six seconds behind Gill. The cheers from family and friends as she came into the arena spurred Conolly on to chase down Gill, and perhaps with a few more meters she could have took second.

Juvenile was the largest female category of the day, with many young riders all hoping to head home with the gold medal of the Scottish Champion. The race itself was won by Rhianna Stoves, who came in over 30 seconds ahead of second place. However, as Rhianna, who rides for Derwentside CC, was not eligible for the Scottish Championships, the race was left wide open for the Scottish girls to scrabble over the honours. Katie Allen (Thomsons Cycles) matched her sister Erika and took the well-deserved victory, after what has been a long and successful season for the young racer. Fifteen seconds later Ellie Park (Glasgow Riderz) crossed the line, who only two months ago had her arm in plaster. Third place went to Anna Kay. The Juvenile boys was an even tighter race, with all three podium spots being settled in ten seconds. Only a second separated first and second after 45 minutes of racing. Conner Johnston of Team Leslie Bikeshop took his first Scottish title after two extremely fast laps, closely followed in by Sean Flynn (Edinburgh RC). Less than 10 seconds later Steven Dent from Nevis Cycles crossed the line in third place, which as part of a season involving travel to South England for races, will be well appreciated.

The Master category has been one of the most exciting races to watch all season, with a different winner each race, and regularly five different men all capable of taking the victory. In the end, it all came down to a sprint finish for the Championship. Roger Campbell Crawford (Thomsons Cycles) and Ewan Gronkowski (Mukyriderz) have provided some excellent racing throughout the season and it was a fitting end to their season to have such a fine display at the championships. After four laps of the challenging Kirroughtree course, Campbell-Crawford seized the victory, with an impressive lunge for the line. Gronkowski had to settle for second with Alexander Paterson (Alf Jones RT) rounding off the podium only three seconds behind. Gillian Pratt, another Team Leslie Bikeshop rider, made amends for missing out on the gold at the British Championships in July to take victory in the Scottish Championships for the second year in a row. Louise Allen (Mukyriderz) was second.

Another close race in the Veterans category saw Gary McCrae open up a one minute gap of a minute over second place John McCaffery. Third place went to Damien Slorach, giving Team Leslie Bikeshop all three podium places. Anne Murray (Team Jewsons) took the female title, having spent the week previous in South Africa competing – and claiming a highly respectable fourth – at the World Masters Championships. She was followed in by Alison Rushton to complete the podium.

Gregor Grant (Moray Firth Cycling Club) made it an impressive six wins from six in the Grand Veteran category, sealing the Scottish Championships and the Scottish series. He finished an extremely comfortable 3 minutes ahead of Brian Garriock (Perth City Cycles) and Allan Laing (Velo Ecosse). John Shirley of West Highland Wheelers completed two tough laps of the Kirroughtree course to take the Championship in the Super Veteran (60+) category, proving that age doesn’t hinder a great performance! Fiona Paton (Ben Wyvis CC) set off in the Grand Veteran women category, and matched the performance of her son by also claiming the Scottish title, and showing that true mountain biking talent runs in the Paton family.

There were also some fantastic results in the under 12’s race, where kids as young as three and on push bikes with no pedals take on a miniature version of the full course. Every child who takes part is always full of enthusiasm, and as well as having great fun, also often sets out to be first across the line! The young generation are an important feature of the Scottish Championships as they develop their talent and gain inspiration from being part of such an event.

Full results can be found here