Cross Country Section
Great Harriers Performances despite the weather
The National Cross country relays championships held annually in November at Berry Hilll park Mansfield has often been compared to Glastonbury for its festival feel, and colourful atmosphere, this year the comparison was truer than ever with heavy rain which started during the first races and continued throughout the junior programme turning the course and it’s surroundings in to a sea of mud, staying on your feet the major challenge of the day.
The U13 and U15 age groups raced over the same 2km course with each age group race contested by around 100 teams of 3 from around the country. Three teams of U13 girls had travelled down from Holmfirth to race, many of the girls racing for the first time at this level of competition. Olivia Sykes, Erica Byram and Lucy Byram were the first team home for the club finishing in 18th position in a close race, the B team of Daisy Hinchcliffe, Amy Kettlewell and Genevieve Durrans both of the later new to this event running strongly in 68th and the C team of Olivia Battye, Olivia Blackburn and Caitlin Smith finishing in 83rd place, all first timers at this level of competition and with another year in the U13 age group. In the boys race the Holmfirth team of Seth Waterman, Andrew Farquhar and Lewis Bartholomew ran well in the mud finishing in 24th position.
With the rain lashing down it was the u15 turn to take to the field. The boy’s team of Aaron Arthur, Aaron Kettlewell and Lewis Byram finished in 38th position, Aaron Arthur running despite a broken hand. Eddie Hinchcliffe ran a 1st leg for the B team and coming home in 75th position on the fast first leg. The girls team of Lucy Farquhar, Sophie Williams and Sophie Spencer also performed strongly coming home in 74th position.
A number of athletes from the club also ran in the longer U17 and U20 races. Max Kaye and Max Lawton in the U20 men’s race unfortunately unable to finish a complete team the boys ran well and were in 42nd position after 2 legs. Both Robert Hinchcliffe and Ruby Sykes ran in the U17 age group races in incomplete teams. Robert coming home 85th on leg one and Ruby in the girls race 51st.
Holmfirth’s leading cross country ladies were out in force with an impressive three teams competing in the 3km, 3-leg course. With all 3 teams finishing within 61 places out of 105 complete teams, the only team to have three teams finish higher was Aldershot, Farnham & District, whose ‘A’ team took silver medals. Warming up for the race felt more like taking a shower for the ladies, as the heavens opened an hour or so beforehand and did not relent until shortly before the gun. On leg one, in which a huge field 122 athletes started, Katie Walshaw set off for the ‘A’ team and ran her usual determined race to finish in an excellent 20th place in 10:55. Claire Leaver had a very good run for the ‘B’ team, with a time of 11:42 in 44th place and Debbie Hall, who found such a short race tricky to pace, did well to finish leg 1 for the ‘C’ team in 72nd (12:37). Leg 2 was lead off by Helen Berry for the ‘A’ team, who felt strong throughout and managed to pick up a few places to handover in 14th place, in 11:35. Jacqui Khoueiry showed no signs of tiredness after a half-marathon the previous weekend, running a good time of 12:09 and moving the ‘B’ team up to 37th place. The ‘C’ team gained one position 71st place thanks to a solid run by Cara Penfold (13:28). The anchor leg runners, who were keen to get on with their race having even longer to wait in the damp conditions than most, all did well to improve the final standings. Kath Farquhar had a steady first half and a fast, gutsy second half to bring the ‘A’ team home in 20th place (12:04) in an overall time of 34:35.. Maggie Sykes, another team member with a long road race in her legs after the Holmfirth ‘15’ 6 days prior, ran well in 12:25 and finishing for the ‘B’ team in 36th place in an overall time of 36:17 . Zoe Storr in her first cross country race of the season had a super run for the ‘C’ team, gaining a number of places to finish in 61st place (13:02) in an overall time of 39:08. The gold medals were awarded to the Charnwood AC ‘A’ team who finished in a time of 31:05 and whose final leg runner, Gemma Steel, recorded the fastest leg of the day in 9:49.
In the men’s race the Holmfirth men’s team of Dave Turnball, James Little, Richard Smith and Matthew Pierson ran well despite the terrible state of the course for this the last race of the day. With 200 athletes lining up the first leg in the senior men’s race is always fast and furious. Dave Turnball was tripped in the mêlée at the start but managed to regain his feet and handed over to Richard Smith in 53rd position in a time of 17.14, Richard ran well coming home in 43rd in 17.45. James also managed to gain places handing over to Matthew on last leg in a time of 18.04 in 41st. Matthew ran round in 17.18 gaining a further 13 places the team finishing an excellent 28th place overall. The race was won by Stockport Harriers with Steve Vernon of Stockport running the fastest leg of the day in 15.26.
The real heroes of the day for the club were the hardy band of supporters who travelled down to cheer on and support the Holmfirth athletes and who were completely drenched by the end of the racing. Their next opportunity to support the Holmfirth teams will be at the next cross country league fixture on Sunday 20th November in Shipley.