Girl Power on Show, as Females Spice It Up!
This year marked the 25th consecutive occasion that Mansfield's Berry Hill Park played host to the English Cross Country Relays - an anniversary marked by two dozen Harborough AC members, who made the hour-long journey to contest the event.
Contested by upwards of 2,000 runners across all age groups - from Under 13s, through to Seniors - the event itself is one of the more prestigious on the annual domestic calendar. And the 2013 edition evidently would not disappoint, with a notable number of Great Britain internationals turning out in Club singlets, dutifully returning to their 'roots'.
In wet - and occasionally blustery - conditions, the terrain for the various routes (between 2km and 5km in distance) begin quickly to cut up, meaning those competing earlier on in the programme, and on the opening legs of each relay, held a certain advantage.
For the youngest age group, the trio of Lottie Edwards (8:20), Ursula Clapp (9:01), and Charlotte Ellis (8:57) brought the Under 13 girls' team home as the 44th 'A' team (51st overall), for the 3x2km course.
Stepping up to the Under 15s, and the standard set was subsequently bettered, as Niamh and Mollie Watson, and Alice Tansey timed a combined 24:52 (7:50, 8:15, and 8:47) over 6km, to pick off 39th position from the 'A' team contingent (50th overall).
As such, and as the day progressed from juniors to seniors, a sense of friendly intra-Club rivalry was beginning to emerge! However, not to be outdone, and retrieving that amiable gauntlet, the ladies representing the elder ranks took it up another notch! That age group also represented the largest of the HAC turnout, with no fewer than three full teams. Leading the way, the 'A' team of Hannah Eveleigh (11:38), Karen Brooks (12:42), and Jacquie Hanmer (12:38) recorded 35th position (42nd overall) - more than ten places better than twelve months previous. That triplet was well-supported by the 'C' team of Sarah Blencowe (14:08), Marise Taylor (15:48), and Sarah Ward (15:20, for 88th overall), and the 'B' team of Nicola James (14:08), Lin Farrow (15:55), and Lianne Brooks (15:54, 91st overall), all traversing the 3km distance without due difficulty.
The latter's male counterparts contested the longest of the distances on show - 5km - engineering 152nd spot overall, courtesy of the efforts of Will Clapp (21:53), George Nolan (25:38), Kevin Dinsdale (24:23), and Kenny Anderson (23:26).
In addition to the full teams, there were a number of HAC's own who ably turned out for the races, albeit in incomplete teams. Lauren Evans battled against the throng among the Under 13s, clocking 9:52. The duo of William Parry (9:22) and Euan Anderson (10:19) did the same in the Boys' Under 13 ranks (also the 2km route). Amid the seniors, David Ward and Graeme Rolfe also gave themselves a workout, registering good times of 25:21 and 22:02, respectively.
On the habitual Parkrun circuit, meanwhile, two dynamic duos applied themselves - one in Northampton, the other in Corby. For the latter - contested by an ever-growing number of entrants (88 this time around) - Adam Eales fronted a marvellous third-spot return (in 19:54), with clubmate, Dave Waddington, a little over a minute adrift, in sixth. For the Northampton Racecourse route, Suzi Neal ran herself to fifth place amongst the women (53rd overall, in 22:30), with Graham Laurie once again lacing up his walking trainers, for 207th place (33:29), from nigh-on 250 combatants.
On Sunday, Matt Driver reprised his travails further north, as he took part in the Staffordshire-based 'Flying Fox 10'. In tricky, changeable conditions, and despite picking up a niggle in his calf before the midway point, Driver was still able to break the hallowed 60-minute barrier. His Clocking of 59:34 was also enough to see him crack the top-ten; finishing in ninth position overall, from in excess of 200.