Season off to a flying start for the Harriers

John Plumridge pounds the tarmac in the Crossmichael 15-miler
John Plumridge pounds the tarmac in the Crossmichael 15-miler

THE Galloway Harriers have kicked off the summer running calendar with a bang after a number of races over the past few weekends.

Auchenmalg window cleaner, Paul Cleer, was first to race this year, crossing the channel for the Paris Half Marathon in early March. He finished a full five minutes ahead of his personal best. An excellent start to his racing season.

THe Harriers taking part in the Crossmichael Marathon

THe Harriers taking part in the Crossmichael Marathon

Local GPs David and Emer Beattie were next to set off, heading across the border and down to Blackpool for the Marathon and Half Marathon respectively. David ran an excellent marathon, with the weather thankfully being kinder to him than it has for his previous couple of marathons, finishing well under four hours in 220th place in a time of 3:56:57.

Emer ran the half marathon, providing excellent pace making skills for David at the same time, completing in 340th in 1:56:19. Jamie Devine who is training for the Manchester marathon in a few weeks time, finished the half marathon in a blistering 1:23:35, taking 15th place overall.

The middle of March saw 10 young, old and ‘middling’ Harriers take part in the third running of the Glenluce 10k FunRun in aid of Tearfund.

A beautifully scenic course was enjoyed by all. Rick Williams, (along with his dog) won the run, closely followed by fellow Harrier John Plumridge who was running his 99th 10k run.

Simon Taggart got slightly lost en route and managed to do the course in reverse, luckily his wife Ailsa had better fortune and breezed in looking fresh at the end. Emer Beattie encouraged her youngest son Ruairi around the course, with the pair finishing in a fabulous effort under the hour. Talent yet to come from this young chap. Andrea, Talitha, Max and Barnaby Williams all enjoyed the course either on foot or two wheels to complete a good Harriers line up.

The next event was the following weekend, just along the road at Castle Kennedy Gardens for the Run4Health 5k event. It was another well attended and organised Fun Run with 77 runners, held in a stunning location and with wonderful Spring weather. Ross Bark took some time off from his children’s entertainer duties and zipped around the course in a speedy 18:06, taking first place. Jamie Devine (19:05), chased by father-in-law Kevin Best (19:32), were the next two runners home and Harrier Rick Williams finished strongly in fourth place. Jemma McNeill, pushing her young son Archie in the buggy, was first female home in 23:06; Archie enjoying his first taste of racing.

The Beatties (Ruairi 26:26, Bronagh 28:55) and the Williams were well represented amongst the Junior ranks with some fabulous results from all who ran.

Sunday 23rd March saw the Sport Relief event at Newton Stewart with participation in the fun from ‘Road Runner’ Ross Bark, Peter Horsell (1st in 3 mile run), Charlie, Jemma and Archie McNeill. However, the more dedicated amongst the Galloway Harriers were at Crossmichael, participating in the reinstated Crossmichael Marathon. Four were signed up for the full 26.2 miles and just John Plumridge entered into the 15 miler. Harriers club Chairman Adrian Leach, Chrissie Vincent, Kerry Maxwell and Paul Cleer had been hard in training and ready to run this local marathon. However, they had not perhaps planned for a rather sticky 17 degrees at the end of March in Galloway.

Undeterred they set off with the small but dedicated field of predominantly local athletes. Adrian Leach was on for a good time and ran off with a pack of keen runners aiming for fast times over this renewed course. The pack thinned to three runners and then two due to a marshalling error, sending race leader at the time Dumfries’ Jacob Tangey off on an erroneous turn. Adrian left fellow athlete Les Hill at 19 miles and continued pushing for a sub-3hour race. This was not to be, with Adrian finishing victorious in a nonetheless spirited and very impressive winning time of 3:06. However, the heat of the day and insufficient fluids saw Adrian collapse over the line and be taken away by the emergency services to Dumfries Royal Infirmary where he spent the night being rehydrated. 12 litres of IV fluid and two litres orally saw Adrian’s renal function improve to acceptable standards before his discharge on Tuesday.

Fellow Harriers kept on running unaware of the dramas unfolding at the finish, with Ladies Champion Kerry Maxwell crossing the line next for the club in a brilliant time of 3:36. An impressive result for her first marathon. Equally commendable was next Harrier to finish, Chrissie Vincent, who beat her marathon PB by a staggering 11 minutes to finish strongly in 3:46. She had been accompanied for the vast majority of the course by fellow Harrier Paul Cleer who ran strongly, with the last couple of miles taking their toll but finished with a smile and a PB in 3:51. John Plumridge ran a very credible 1:58:38 over the 15 mile course.

After a busy few weeks, the Harriers are settling down into steady training and looking forward to a good summer of racing. Keep your eyes peeled for the black and white Beltie vests. For any information on the club, please go to