Dale Colley gets Scotland call on bronze-winning weekend

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Runner Dale Colley had some Saturday afternoon.

First, the Falkirk Victoria Harrier was the home-town hero as he earned a podium place at the record-breaking Scottish National Cross Country Championships held in Callendar Park on Saturday.

Dale Colley (right) finished third.

Dale Colley (right) finished third.

And then, 90 minutes after receiving his bronze medal, came the second good news of the day – selection for Scotland at the home countries’ under-20 and senior cross country international in Llandeilo next month.

Colley, of Grangemouth, came third in the under-20 men with a time of 26 minutes and 53 seconds - just over a minute behind winner Ross Matheson (Lasswade) on 25.49 and silver medallist David Vernon (Glasgow), who clocked 25.52.

More than 3000 people attended the Callendar Park event, which had the largest field of entrants since 1996.

In all, 1956 runners took part, but though Wegene Tafese won the senior men’s run, it was Colley who the focus for the host club and many of the local spectators.

The 18-year-old had been targeting a top 10 finish, so a podium place outdid even his ambitions.

“This was totally unexpected and has come a couple of years ahead of schedule so I will keep working hard and see what develops over the next year or so,” he said.

As well as his call-up for the event in Wales on March 23, the Falkirk Victoria Harrier has also been selected to represent the East of Scotland at the Inter Counties in Birmingham on March 9, live on Sky Sports.

Saturday’s prize is the second national medal Colley has won in recent years, equalling Kevin Maxwell – Junior Boy silver 1978 and senior boy bronze 1980. His first came in the 2009 championship – also at Callendar Park – where he took silver in the under-15 boys’ race, after winning a sprint finish between 2nd and 3rd place.

His win is also something of a milestone for the Vics, whose last triumph – aside from Leia Glading’s under-13 girls’ silver medal in 2011 – was Kerr Johnston’s win in the under-17 boys’ category back in 1999, as it is the first individual medal in this age category which was first contested in 1950.

Glading was also in action on Saturday finishing 12th in the girls under-15 event in 16.37.

Another notable run was that of Fiona Matheson, who - at 50 years of age - notched up an impressive eleventh place finish with a time of 30.28. This is a fantastic result considering the youth of her fellow runners in the senior women’s race, encompassing every age group from twenty plus.

Falkirk Vics also provided marshals around the Callendar park course, and a club spokeswoman said: “A huge thank you has to be given to the small army of FVH volunteers who arrived at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning to set the course for the runners and act as stewards for the day. Without their assistance - and the support of Falkirk Council and Falkirk Community Trust - the day would not have been such a success.”