RECORDS were smashed in both the men’s and women’s events as the Babcock 10K Series got off to a spectacular start in Helensburgh on Thursday night.

The third running of the Babcock Helensburgh 10k was full of promise and carried some major expectations and certainly didn’t disappoint.

There were a record 702 entries and among them two names in particular that held major ambitions for a fast race.

Inverclyde’s reigning Scottish cross country champion, Adam Craig was looking for a hard, sustained run and Shettleston’s Eritrean Olympian, Weynay Ghebresilassie, who was disappointed with his run in the London Marathon, where he won the mass start/non elite race in 2:17:00, lined up alongside one another.

Paul Sorrie, twice a Helensburgh winner, and a clutch of talented youngsters from Shettleston made up the front row, and all had Rio Olympian Derek Hawkins’ course record of 30:28 from 2015 in mind as the gun went.

Craig set off at a determined sub 30 minute pace but Ghebresilassie gave no ground and ran shoulder to shoulder with the Inverclyde man for the first 6km to Kidston Park.

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As they turned away from the seafront, Ghebresilassie moved up a gear and powered round the final 4km at well inside three minutess per kilometre to bring him home inside his own series record of 30:11 set on Glasgow Green in 2017.

His record breaking run was timed at 29:32 and his final kilometre was probably his quickest.

Craig, running a controlled effort, and under strict instructions from his coach not to break 30 minutes, duly obliged with an impressive level of precision in 30:02 – also inside the Babcock Series record.

Eighteen-year-old Lewis Raeburn, part of John Mackay’s impressive stable of young talent at Shettleston, surged to an impressive third place in 32.31. eight seconds ahead of Bellahouston’s Gregor Yates in fourth.

Jamie Burns in sixth closed out the team counters for Shettleston and picked up the first under-20 prize into the bargain. Shettleston, with ten points were comfortable team winners, ahead of Bellahouston Harriers on 19 and Inverclyde on 28.

With Katie White, the reigning series champion and winner of all three ladies’ races last year, sidelined with a niggling knee injury, and Elspeth Curran, last year’s runner-up, feeling under the weather, it was left to Fife’s Annabel Simpson to raise the bar for the women.

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Scottish international Simpson was quickly to the fore, operating just outside the top 20 overall, and running at inside 3.30 per kilometre, she was rewarded with a course record of 34.48, taking 44 seconds off Katie White’s 35.32 of last year.

Annabel was the first ever recipient of the Taylor Wimpey West Scotland Trophy for the leading woman.

Christina Rankin from Kilbarchan was just outside the old record with 35.37 and the evergreen Jill Knowles from Scottish Prison Service impressed as first over-40 runner in third on 38.23.

The women’s age group races were equally impressive, with Dumbarton’s Lindsey Currie picking up the first over-40 award as Knowles was third overall. Hot on her heels was Bella’s Ann Robin on 38.54.

Pamela McCrossan from Clydesdale was as consistent as ever, taking the over-50 award in 41.12, and Erica Christie from Achilles Heel was top over-60 on 43.43.

In the men’s age group contests, Steven Campbell of Greenock Glenpark was first over-40 in 12th place overall in 33.59; clubmate Andrew White was only just behind him on 34.05 to take the over-50 prize and Terrence Coyle was first over-60 runner to cross the line on 39.15.

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Dumbarton dominated the women’s team race, with Lindsey Currie, Nikki Lyons (sixth) and Vigil Garcia (12th) ahead of Garscube on 55 points and Scottish Prisons Service on 76, just ahead of Helensburgh, ably led by Emma Wilson, who was the first local female in eighth place on 40.06.

The first local male was Joe Barton of Rhu in 13th place overall, in 34.00, just ahead of Helensburgh’s Jason Bell on 34.36, a new personal best.

The first male runner from sponsors Babcock’s Team Clyde was Chris McClelland from Dumbarton, who finished 18th overall in 34.34, and the first Team Clyde female was Nichola Copeland, who was 26th female overall in 47.14.

Gavin Leckie, Babcock Clyde’s managing director impressed in 42.23 in 151st overall.

The series now moves on to Dumbarton tonight (Thursday) at 7.30pm, where internationals Adam Craig, Luke Traynor and Sean Fontana are planning an attack on the course record of 29.40, set by Eritrean international Tewelde Mengisteab in 2009.

Start Fitness provided the prizes and goody bags and Strathmore Water gave 2,000 bottles of water to rehydrate the runners.

*All pictures by Daren Borzynski