Tidal Force Waves 'Au Revoir' to the Competition!
In 1954, Roger Bannister immortalised his name in the annuls of running history when he became the first person to ever run under the four-minute barrier for the mile. On that fateful day, Bannister’s chest was emblazoned with the figure ‘41’. This past weekend, a delegation of the same number made the short schlep to Corby’s West Glebe Park – for the second in the North Midlands Cross Country Series – and would undoubtedly have collectively impressed the Great Man himself!
Amid the increasingly-wintery conditions, a veritable wave of yellow cascaded across the age ranges; being most evident and prevalent in the youngest of those – the Under 11s. In that bracket, there were no fewer than 16 carrying the HAC maillot on their pre-adolescent shoulders over the 2km course. In the Boys’ race, there was a stellar debut from George Eveleigh, who showed tremendous promise to take third place, setting the bar high from the ‘off’. He was chased hard by George Lowe (15th), before Jamie Davis (28th), 33rd Luke Ainsworth (33rd), Alfie Hilton(37th), Jacob Holmes (38th), Adam Stewart (40th), Thomas Ainsworth (55th), Toby Fletcher (59th) rounded off the team, taking them to second place, overall. A seven-strong U11 Girls’ squad could not quite match the boys, but still played an admirable part, with 20th for Lizzie Clapp, 24th for Rohan Finch, 25th for Hannah Smith, 61st for Eleanor Partridge, 64th for Georgia Saleh, 66th for Olivia Young, and 67th for Isabella Hart.
Stepping up to the U13’s, there were a number of notable absentees (racing elsewhere). But the 3.1km route was still well-traversed by Scarlett Wilson (17th, on debut), Lauren Evans (29th), Georgina Wilson (32nd, debut), and Hannah Stewart (40th) – giving eighth position for the team on the day. Over the same distance, there was a wonderful showing from the quartet of Niamh Watson (fourth), Mollie Watson (seventh), Sophie Domingo (tenth), and Alice Tansey (22nd) to engineer second place for the team there. As the sole representative among the males in that bracket, Charlie Blencowe notched 27th, to improve his Series’ position to 20th after two outings, while Martha Clapp’s excellent seventh place was one up from that of race one.
Having seen her son notch up a podium-spot in his first race in Harborough colours, Hannah Eveleigh ensured the family moniker remained at the forefront through to the latter stages of the day’s proceedings. Over the 6km Women’s race, she led home the nine-strong team contingent, chalking off yet another top-ten finish (and topping the FV40 classification); with seventh place. With a further four in the top-fifty – in the shape of Karen Brooks (25th, and 1st FV50), Jacquie Hanmer (26th, 3rd FV45), Yvonne Scarrott (35th, 4th FV45), and Nicola James (49th) – the top step of the team contest looked in sight. That was then ably augmented by the efforts of Sarah Blencowe (58th), Nikki Bugla (61st), Lin Farrow (62nd, 1st FV55), and Jo Johnston (68th), ensuring that premier berth was secured for the Veteran team, both on the day and in the standings overall!
Sadly, such exploits could not be matched by their male counterparts. Somewhat depleted by injury and working commitments, their collective travails were still rewarded with top-fifty placings for Andy Robinson and Matt Driver (48th and 49th, respectively). A little farther adrift, Tom Ward took 109th, ahead of Steve Costall (123rd), Martin Hughes (163rd), and George Nolan (173rd).
Casting a watchful gaze over the action, Cross Country Captain – Will Clapp – was understandably effusive in his praise: “Wow! There’s little more that I can say, really, after such a collective performance. We had a number of debutants today, and the fact that we still weren’t at ‘full-strength’ in several of the age groups just shows how much the Club has grown over the past 12 months. I’m absolutely delighted with each and every one of them – everybody contributed, and we’re becoming a real force in the area!”
Elsewhere, the English Schools XC Regional Final took place at Castledyke Equestrian Centre. There, a number of Harborough AC’s juniors were chosen to represent their schools, evidently bringing some experience with them. Lottie Edwards led the Welland Park CC ranks, with fifth place from a field of over 60. Ursula Clapp also edged into the top-20 (with 20th), to help the team into ninth place overall. In the Boys’ race, Will Perry took a last-minute invitation to race, duly completing it in 70th.
On the Parkrun front, the twosome of Dave Waddington and Graham Laurie journeyed to Northampton Racecourse, for the 79th event held at that venue. Among an entry upwards of 200, there was a 29th-place return for Waddington (20:23), while Laurie race-walked his way to 181st (32:37).