The true strength in depth of a running club is most clearly shown through its competitive diversity and, by such a measure of indication, Harborough AC is in for a bumper year if the past weekend is anything to go by, with the Club boasting athletes in events across indoor, road, and cross country disciplines!
Saturday had the Leicestershire & Rutland Schools Cross Country Championships taking place at Ratcliffe College, while the internationally recognised Loughborough University High Performance Centre played host to an Open Indoor Track & Field meeting. In the former of the two; Harborough AC was, as always, well-represented, with four competitors in the junior events, and one in the senior ranks. Emily Taylor followed up on her recent string of top-ten placings with a terrific bronze medal performance in the Senior Girls’ race – offering suitable reward for all her hard graft during the long winter months, and also qualifying her for this year’s National event. In the Junior Girls’ event, the medal haul was of a silver hue, as the team of Bethany Ellis (ninth), Martha Clapp (tenth), and Eleanor Rutter (37th) took second place in the combined team placings. In the Junior Boys’ race, Louis Killworth continued his march into competition with a highly commendable 22nd position, to leave Club Cross Country Captain Will Clapp enthusing: “with such consistently strong showing from the Club’s younger athletes, the future of Harborough AC looks to be rosy, and it’s great to see new faces taking to racing at almost every event!”.
Elsewhere, it was Chris Holliday flying the flag for the elder Club contingent as he took to the high-calibre synthetic of the Loughborough HiPAC. Over 60m, Chris clocked 8.66s – only a fraction down on his best performance of 2010 – in a meeting that saw the likes of Jessica Ennis, Sarah Claxton, and Robbie Grabarz plying their trade. The race also marked a welcome return to action for Chris, after a leg injury that derailed much of the later half of the previous season.
On Sunday, the Barrow Six mile race marked the dawning of the 2011 Leicestershire Road Racing League. In near perfect conditions for road running, eleven HAC members took to the undulating course. In the Women’s field, there was a distinct air of midfield domination as Lianne Brooks, Ruth Bingham, Hazel Buswell, and Jackie King placed 83rd, 84th, 85th, and 86th respectively – the latter in a new Personal Best. They were ably supported by Jo Johnston (109th), Jenny Brighton (111th), and Lin Farrow (118th) in a very promising early-season turnout! In the Men’s race, Ady King seamlessly continued his 2010 form, with a PB clocking for 54th place, while Martin Hughes, Pete Leach, and Dave Oram reinforced the auspices of the Club’s Veterans ranks.
Meanwhile, in Droitwich Spa – a burgeoning town famed for its skyline-dominating radio mast – it was the familiar gait of Karen Brooks that strode prominent and tall over the muddy conditions of the Midland Masters Cross Country Championships. Across 6km of testing, tricky underfoot field, towpath, and woodland conditions, Karen gracefully battled her way to a second place finish in the FV50 category – and eighth place overall – to underline her standing as one of the foremost athletes in the region. The event also saw the return to competitive running of husband Nev after a hiatus of a couple of years. However, this was slightly dampened as a marshalling error led to him covering a foreshortened distance. Rick Brown also produced a strong display – taking over three minutes off his equivalent time of last year – for 40th position in the Men’s 8km race. Speaking after the race, Karen said: “although some parts of the route were a bit slippy, the general race conditions were good, and I was just pleased to be in the right place throughout the race to take advantage. To be honest, it’s just nice to be running injury-free, and I’m really enjoying myself out there at the moment. Long may it continue!”.