While last week saw the culmination of the national Cross Country season, this week heralded the equivalent, but for the English Schools Championships. In much the same way as the previous week, participation was on a County selection level, and five Harborough AC members were duly chosen for representation. Chief among that merry band – as it turned out – was Sam Edwards. Racing in the Junior Boys’ age bracket, and in the colours of Leicestershire, Sam had already secured the County title by virtue of a series of first-place finishes during the main season. And six days earlier had also finished in the top ten per cent at the National Championships. And he certainly lived up to his burgeoning calibre around the grounds of the NAS Merryfield MOD base in Ilton, Somerset, securing a fabulous 18th spot from 329 runners. Crossing the line in a time of 13:45 for the 3.75km course, Sam was first scorer for Leicestershire – helping the team to the silver medal berth overall – as well as second home for the entire Midlands region. Having already been acclaimed as the Club’s Junior athlete of 2011, Sam’s raw talent is quickly shaping into wider appreciation. Club Cross Country Captain, Will Clapp, offered: “Sam has a natural running ability, and a youthful enthusiasm for it that is really delightful to see; long may it continue to be so!”
Also running in the colours of the County were the trio of Martha Clapp, Bethany Ellis and Emily Taylor. All three have proven to be pedigree athletes across the trials and trails of cross country, and the triumvirate certainly did not disappoint here. Over the 3.12km route of the Junior Girls’ race, Martha clocked a time of 13:12, for 217th place from a field of 337. That also helped Leicestershire to 11th in the team event. In the Inter Girls’ 3.75km, Bethany came home in 241st (in 17:12) from 330, with the team in tenth place overall. In the upper age range – Senior Girls (4.25km) – Emily took 196th position (18:57), from a total entry of 307 (with the team in 29th spot overall). Meanwhile, sole Northamptonshire representative – Jake Watson – covered the 7.05km Senior Boys’ course in a time of 26:02, taking 122nd place from 311 finishers. That clocking saw him place third scorer for the county, helping them to 21st overall, and was just 20 seconds shy of the top-100.
Elsewhere, George Nolan reinforced his half marathon training with a solid outing in the 5km Braunstone Park Run. From an entry of 149, George crossed the line in 36th, with his time of 21:24 being just a solitary second off his PB! Equally as impressive – and on her first run over the course – Jacquie Hanmer stopped the watch at 21:39, for 38th spot and third overall female.
A day later, and a quartet of Club members travelled to Oxfordshire for the Banbury ‘15’. Four, however, soon became three as Yvonne Scarrott was forced out of the race with an injury. Fairing somewhat better over the notably hilly course, though, was Ady King. Eleventh place – in a time of 1:31:36 – was strong enough for third spot among the MV40 runners, and augurs very well for Ady, who will have his sights firmly set towards the Milton Keynes Marathon in a little over a month from now. Hazel Buswell secured a top-200 spot, with 2:06:48 taking her to 191st place, while Jackie King chased hard for 222nd, in 2:12:08, also offering good portent for her forthcoming half marathon outing in Reading in a fortnight’s time.
Also gearing into marathon mode was Traci Edwards, who tackled the slightly longer track of the Ashby ‘20’. Despite suffering with cramp, and amid a field of around 800 entrants, Traci’s time of 3:18:00 should certainly stand her in good stead for those additional 6.2 miles, as the final month’s tapering preparations hone into view. A little higher up the field placings were Kate Southern and Steve Foxon. Kate crossed the line in 442nd, in a time of 2:50:00, while Steve concluded his efforts a shade farther back – in 546th – with a time of 2:59:00.