Springtime Midland Extrav Yields Promising Crop
It has been a long time since Wollaton Park, Nottingham played host to the Midlands Region Cross Country Championships. Yet it was a trip well-trodden by members of Harborough AC, courtesy of its inclusion on the North Mids League circuit. And so it was that a 20-strong delegation was despatched to this year’s extravaganza.
With races ranging from 3km for Under 13s, through to the 12km Senior course, there was plenty on offer for all ages, and the town was represented in no fewer than six of the day’s events. The first race to see flashes of the Club’s yellow and black garb was the Under 20 Men’s, where Jake Watson took a combative 40th spot, with a clocking of 28:56. Just moments after he had crossed the finish line, his younger siblings – twins Niamh and Mollie – began their respective assault, in the Under 13 bracket. In a field of just under 130 finishers, it was Niamh who edged out her sister, with a time of 12:47 for the 3km course, against Mollie’s 13:31 (for 53rd and 75th spots).
With the timetable ensuring there was no let-up in the action; it was swiftly on to the Under 20 Women, and Sarah Ward and Emily Taylor. Both made short-shrift of the 5km route, with the latter taking 25th place (in 22:19), and the former securing 36th (24:32). Also garnering a position in the top-25 was Martha Clapp – who equalled Emily’s placing – in the Under 15 Girls 4km contest, clocking 16:24 in a field of over 100.
From thence it was over to the Club’s senior incumbents; with the women tackling 8km, and the men a 12km route. First home for the ladies was Hannah Eveleigh, reinforcing her recent Inter-Counties selection with a fluid run, and 33rd place in a time of 31:59. Hannah was ably supported by Nicola James, who broke the 40-minute mark to take 116th (39:14). Ensuring an overall team place of 18th were the duo of Lianne Brooks (130th, 41:01) and Marise Taylor (159th, 46:49).
It was then over to the men to round off the day’s competition, in a race that had the largest entry for both any race (412) and the Club (with seven runners). In 58th place, it was the elegant gait of Sean Fenwick that showed first for HAC, in 41:25. Also returning top-half finishes were Will Clapp (120th, 44:43), Martin Gore (136th, 45:23) and Adam Brooks (199th, 47:59). The pair of Michael Burke and Mark Cherry appear to have thoroughly enjoyed their debut season, and flourished in the cool but sunny conditions with, respectively, 214th and 236th places (48:42, and 49:30). Concluding the Harborough contingent’s participation on the day was Dave Waddington, who clocked 51:31 (for 272nd) to help cement 20th place in the Team competition.
Cross Country Captain, Will Clapp, was certainly very happy with his charges collective displays, enthusing: “The soft but generally reliable ground made for a delightful day’s racing, and everyone took to their events well. I’m especially proud of Martha and Emily for their top-25 finishes, and Hannah and Sean flew the flag brilliantly among the senior ranks!”
A week earlier, the historic setting of Droitwich Spa played host to the Masters version of the Midland Championships. Continuing their fruitful pedigrees, both Yvonne Scarrott and Karen Brooks had excellent runs, with Yvonne taking seventh in the Vet45 Category (29:09), and Karen fifth in the Vet50s (29:26) over the 6km course. Meanwhile, and as one season concludes and another begins, Chris Holliday stepped up his winter training with two runs over 60m at the Loughborough Indoor Open. His first heat saw a time of 8.70s, which he then bettered on run two, with 8.69s.
Elsewhere, the mid-week period saw the 54th annual Eric Humphries Memorial Cross Country race, at Delapre Park in Northampton. The idyllic 550-acre site proved no real distraction to the trio of Ady and Jackie King, and Nicola James, however, who all produced good, strong runs. Both Ady (Vet40) and Nicola (Vet35) secured second spots in their age brackets.
It was then back to the roads, in the guise of the 2012 Leicester Winter Road Running League. The five race Series kicked off with the Barrow ‘6’. Starting and finishing at the Humphrey Perkins School, the cold conditions proved to be of no detriment to the event, with a large turnout suggesting a bumper year for road running lies ahead! Featuring strongly amongst the 500-plus entry were a relative baker’s dozen from HAC; with three Personal Bests auguring well! Yvonne Scarrott and Karen Brooks have plainly traversed from mud to tarmac successfully, placing tenth and 24th in the Women’s race. PBs from Jackie King and Lin Farrow saw them taking 62nd and 82nd, while Ruth Bingham (91st), Jo Johnston (95th) and Linda Lawton (118th) all began their campaigns. Amid their male counterparts, Ady King ran a lifetime best for the distance, securing 43rd in the process. Exactly 100 places back, Richard Bufton suggested that he has wintered well, while Rick Brown came 233rd. Chris Loake (245th) and Nick Johnston (249th) enjoyed places inside the top-250, and Ray Lack confirmed his injury and illness travails lie firmly in his wake, taking 364th position.