While a good portion of the country was focused on the FA Cup third round this past weekend, 13 of Harborough AC’s finest were chasing trophies of different sorts; and duly securing a hat-trick of their very own at the Leicestershire & Rutland Cross Country County Championships. Held this year at Rotherby Lodge, runners certainly benefitted from the recent improvements in weather conditions; although the ground underfoot was soft to say the least!
Dogmatic and undeterred, however, HAC’s baker’s dozen acquitted both themselves and the Club expertly; picking up three medals, and a host of impressive finishes amongst an equally imposing number of entries. Stand-out were the individual awards for Sam Edwards and Martha Clapp, in their respective U15 groups. While Edwards took a superb second-spot, significant plaudits must be reserved for Clapp, who covered half of her 4km course with only one shoe, having lost the other en route! As such, her bronze medal was a fabulous reward, also improving on her seventh place of twelve months previous.
The third trophy garnered on the day was also bronze in colour, and came for the Women’s Masters team of Jacquie Hanmer, Nicola James, Marise Taylor, and Lin Farrow (who finished in that order over the 6km event). In the longest race of the event – the Senior and Masters Men’s 10km – a further quartet flew Club colours. Matt Driver was first of that group across the line, followed by Martin Gore, Mark Cherry, and Dave Ward. Elsewhere on the programme, Lottie Edwards debuted in the competition with a commendable 11th position in the U13 Girls, with Charlie Blencowe in 14th in the Boys’ version (both held over 3km). Bethany Ellis was unfortunate to just miss the podium places, taking fourth in the U17 Women’s race, though she will have another shot next year, being in the younger half of consideration for that age bracket.
Meanwhile, across the other side of the district, a further seven were competing in the Northamptonshire version, at Abington Park. In the youngest age category, both Toby Fletcher and Emma Sleeman tackled the event for the first time; the former in 23rd place, and the latter in 26th. Emma’s older brother – Ben – then also laced up his spikes, for the 2.5km U13 race, taking 24th. In the Girls’ race for the same age range, twins Niamh and Mollie Watson ran wonderfully well, crossing the line just ten seconds apart, in seventh and tenth, respectively. Their elder sibling – Jake – then secured sixth place in the U20 10km, before Karen Brooks placed 21st in the Senior Women’s contest.
On reflection across both competitions, Club Cross Country Captain, Will Clapp, noted: “it was a fine day for Cross Country, despite the tough terrain at both venues, and I’m really proud of how well everyone took advantage of that. It’s also great to see a good crop of our junior athletes running so strongly, although the Masters Women certainly showed them how it’s done!”
On more reliable grounds, and in notably warmer climes, Dan Taylor recorded a time of 21:30 for the 5km of the South Bank, Brisbane Parkrun. That clocking gave him an excellent 13th place, from a field of over 150.