THE 2018 Borders Schools Cross-Country Championships, organised by the Scottish Borders Athletics Development Group in conjunction with Live Borders, took place at Netherdale, Galashiels on Thursday.

Well over 500 runners from schools all across the Scottish Borders took part.

Although the soft going underfoot was not conducive to ultra-fast times, the Primary school races in the morning were run in reasonable, if chilly conditions.

But the late morning drizzle gave way to more persistent rain making for more challenging conditions for the Secondary school races in the afternoon.

The P6 Boys 2km race started the day’s proceedings and Earlston was the first school on the medal board with a strong second lap by Ross Christie moving him to the front and an eventual six second margin at the line in 8.18 minutes. The Kingsland duo of Shaun Pyman and Kieran Fulton had led the pack through half-way and they held on well for the silver and bronze in times of 8.24 and 8.26 respectively.

With team-mate Gregor Wells home in 12th that comfortably secured the P6 team race for the Peebles school ahead of Priorsford and Duns.

More medals were soon heading Kingsland’s way when Izzy Molyneux showed a clean pair of heels to her 85 rivals in the P6 Girls 2km race and crossed the line for gold in 8.52, an excellent time which was bettered by just one girl in the older P7 race and only the three medallists in the S1 race.

Izzy had a 16-second winning margin from West Linton’s Kelsey Brain with Erin Gray from Glendinning picking up the bronze in 9.15.

Good back-up from Kingsland’s Rosie McLean in 4th and Elena Lee in 6th saw Kingsland win their second team gold by twenty points from Priorsford and West Linton.

The P7 boys 2km race saw last year’s P6 winner Ross Wolfenden from West Linton again taking the gold medal in a time of 7.51, seven seconds clear of Ben Allan and Thomas Hilton from Priorsford.

The third Priorsford counter Danny Lancaster came home in 9th to secure the team gold by ten points from Kingsland and Broomlands.

The P7 Girls race concluded the morning’s proceedings and there was another repeat champion from 2017.

Burgh’s Isla Paterson coming out on top again to take the gold medal by an impressive 31 second margin in 8.34.

Howdenburn’s Amylia Temple took the silver in 9.05 with Priorsford’s Sophie Logan home a clear third for the bronze in 9.11.

The team gold again went to Priorsford, Kirsten Duncan in 9th and Jess Colledge in 12th adding to Sophie’s points for a 22-point winning margin from Kingsland and Earlston.

So with two team golds and two team silvers for each of Kingsland and Priorsford, it was nip and tuck for the overall Championship trophy with team points accrued across all four races.

Calculators were deployed and after several checks, the announcement was made that by one single point the 2018 Primary School Champions were Kingsland.

Ewan Christie from Earlston High had won the P6 and P7 championships the preceding two years and he duly made it a hat-trick of titles with victory in the S1 race, racing clear impressively from the off and finishing the 2km course unchallenged in 7.35.

That was 18 seconds ahead of team-mate Cameron Rankine who was home in 7.53 for silver and James Clare took the bronze for Peebles in 7.59. Elliot Hedley’s fourth place saw team gold head Earlston’s way with seven points, seven points ahead of Peebles with Berwickshire third on 27 points.

The secondary boys and girls races were run concurrently and Emily Carrick-Anderson from Peebles was another to secure a hat-trick of girls’ titles after her Primary race wins in 2016 and 2017. She crossed the line in 8.24, nine seconds to the good of Anna Fairclough of Earlston. Esme Minto from Peebles was home third in 8.50 and with their third counter Christina McGorum just two seconds behind in 4th, Peebles took the team win. Earlston were second and Berwickshire third again.

It was up to three laps and 3km for the S2 races which saw Gregor Collins from Gala take the Boys title in 11.30 ahead of Earlston duo Blake Hedley (12.07) and Dylan Perry (12.16).

Galashiels also took the team trophy courtesy of Collins, Evan McConnell (5th) and Iain Houston (7th). Earlston were 2nd with 17 points and Peebles 3rd on 35 points.

Hawick got on the medal able with a resounding win for Maisie Ballantyne in the Girls S2 3km race. Maisie crossed the line for gold in 13.27 with Madeline Collins from Peebles taking silver in 13.40. Earlston’s Orla Folan was third home in 13.50 to take bronze. The team contest was tight with Earlston prevailing by four points from Peebles and Jedburgh third.

In the S3 Boys 3km race Jay Coltman from Peebles stretched into a clear led early on, and despite the gap being closed over the final lap of three, he held on well for gold in 12.20. Gala’s Casey Bunker narrowed the gap to four seconds come the line and Earlston’s Andrew Berlanski took the bronze in 12.40. This time it was team gold for the Peebles team of Coltman, Maxwell Drummond in 6th and Euan Maciver in 7th. Earlston took second and Kelso third.

Not to be outdone by the boys, the Peebles S3 Girls race also swept to team gold but it was Earlston’s Ruth Farnsworth who was very impressive in taking the individual honours, crossing the line well clear in 13.17. She was followed home by the three Peebles counters, Charlotte Morrison (13.32), Hannah Little (13.40) and Eilidh Mooney. Earslton were second team and Kelso took third.

The Open races concluded the day with Peebles and Earlston again doing battle in the Open Girls 3k race.

After a ding-dong race, Katie Rourke from Earlston pulled away in the closing stages to take the title in a time of 12.20 with Ailsa Innes of Peebles second in 12.23. Beth Hobbs from Peebles took the bronze in 12.33 and a fourth place finish for the third Peebles counter Charlotte Clare saw them secure the team title from Earlston and Selkirk.

So to the final race, the Open Boys who raced over 4km in what by now were pretty dreich conditions. Earlston’s Callum Tharme was an impressive winner in 15.14 with younger brother Lewis taking the bronze in 15.56.

The Tharme brothers were split by Hawick’s Fraser Clyne who took silver in 15.26. Back up from William Taylor saw Earlston comfortably secure the team title from Gala and Peebles.

The overall team championship for Secondary schools is decided from the S1, S2 and S3 races only and again it was a case of getting the calculators out and double-checking the scores accrued across the six separate boys and girls races. This time there was a five-point winning margin with Earlston declared overall champions with 92 points to 97 points for Peebles.

Gregor Nicholson from the Scottish Borders Athletics Development Group said: “The championships saw medals being won by a good range of schools and we’ve seen more evidence at these championships of the strength of cross-country running in the Borders, not just in terms of impressive running talent but also great commitment and determination from every single one of the five hundred and twenty one finishers.

"Some might say we have also seen the natural order successfully challenged with Peebles being toppled for the first time since 2012 as overall Secondary School Champions by Earlston

“It’s an event which is made possible only with the support of many, including Live Borders, the Year 2 HND Sports and Exercise students from Borders College, Gala RFC, Scottish Borders Council and our fantastic team of volunteer helpers and marshals.

"We are very grateful to them all.”