Jul 27 2012 By John Woods
ILLNESS cruelly prevented Irvine Athletic Club from being the first Ayrshire team home at the popular Round Arran Road Relay Race on Saturday.
The event is organised by Irvine AC with the help of Ayrshire Harriers Club but, just when it looked as if they were in for a top two finish Mark Livingstone, who has been running well recently and was nicely positioned in second place with just over a mile to go on the North 3 leg, suddenly took ill and became so disorientated that he wisely decided to drop out and was picked up by one of the support cars.
“Fortunately the club had St Andrews Ambulance volunteers on standby and it was quickly established that Mark did not appear to be suffering from anything that required emergency treatment,” said club stalwart Andy Rennie.
“Nevertheless this is a warning to everyone involved in endurance sport.
“I you feel unwell stop right away as it might be the onset of a virus or some other illness which might have serious long term consequences if you continue to overtax your body.”
But his withdrawal meant Irvine were disqualified under the race rules since all six runners failed to complete the course.
The race is held on the perimeter road which runs round the island with the 58-mile total split into three South and three North legs.
Runners start at Blackwaterfoot and finish at Brodick with the best aggregate time determining the winner.
The event is restricted to 23 teams because of safety and transport restrictions so it was good to see all of the Ayrshire clubs represented –in the shape of Irvine AC, Kilmarnock Harriers, Ayr Seaforth, North Ayrshire AC and Troon Tortoises.
Irvine AC captain Billy Richardson put together a strong team in an attempt to consolidate the club's position as the top Ayrshire road racing club and possibly even challenge Central AC which has dominated the race in recent years, and Alex Allardyce got the Marress Men off to a great start on South 1, finishing second in 43.09 only four seconds behind Helensburgh AC.
On South 2 Billy Richardson kept Irvine in the hunt with another second place behind Central AC in 54.11 and George Irving also finished second on South 3 in 49.05 with Central retaining top spot.
On North 1, the longest leg of the race, Jamie Findlay kept up the pressure finishing third in 1.05.37 with Central well clear in first place, but Kilmarnock's best runner Iain Connell was only a mere 30 seconds ahead in second spot.
It was good to see Pat Cullinane back in action on the hilly North 2 and although he had the seventh fastest time of 1.14.23 he was for giving little away to the other Ayrshire runners.
However disaster struck when Mark fell ill on North 3, just when it looked as if Irvine would finish well clear in second place behind Central AC if they had actually completed the race.
Ironically Irvine's reserve runner Jim Sneddon ran North 3 for a composite team and his third place time of 1.05.29 would also have given Irvine second spot.