North of England XC Champs

 Holmfirth strike gold.... twice

Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships – Saturday 25th January 2014

For the first time in the clubs 107 year history Holmfirth Harriers celebrated on Saturday double gold medals at the Northern Athletics cross country championships in the prestigious senior women’s race. Katie Walshaw triumphant noeccScooping the senior women’s title with an inspiring run in a tactical race Holmfirth Athlete Katie Wlashaw demonstrated the progress she has made this cross country season.  GB cross country runners Rosie Smith and Katie Brough were left trailing in Katie’s wake as she came back from a 15m deficit on Smith at the 6km point in this 8km race to pass her  on the final hill of this undulating muddy course and surge away for victory with a 15second margin. Brough was well beaten back in tenth and the other pre-race favourite GB marathoner Susan Partridge, who had beaten Katie in to second 2 weeks previously at the Yorkshire champs, was in third, 24 seconds down and Brough back in tenth with a 2 minute deficit.

After a fast start Katie settled in to a leading pack of 7 or 8 athletes. By the 3km point of the first 4km lap the pack was starting to split and by the start of the second and final lap Katie had broken away with Rosie Smith and had gained a gap over the chasing pack which soon stretched out to75m. At the bottom of the hill on the firmer ground Smith increased the pressure and pulled away. Rather than panic Katie maintained the distance and as the course headed back up the hill reapplied the pressure and reeled her back in both athletes then neck and neck on the approach to the final incline. Katie kicked and pulled away from Smith a move that proved to be decisive as she increased her lead on the muddy descent to win by 100m, thus clinching the northern Championship. Icing on the cake for the loyal Holmfirth away supporters was the stunning performance from the other women s team members Helen Berry, Helen Fines and Claire Leaver who with Katie won the team championships and took home the team gold medals.

womens team northern cross

Gold team (left to right) Claire Leaver, Helen Fines, Katie Walshaw, Helen Berry.

The senior races came at the end of an exciting day of racing for the Holmfirth contingent with strong individual and team performances in the junior races. The highlight of these was the performance of the U13 boy’s team who won bronze medals. The team was lead home by Ollie Northern crossOllie Rees with a stunning individual run to finish in 6th place in 11:39 over this 3km course. Ollie was followed back by Nicky Farquhar 22nd (12:13), Jimmy Burke 36th (12.31) and Fionn Kerry 73rd (13:05) to complete the 4 man team. Ned Johnson was just a whisker behind Fionn in 75th (13:05) and Sam Bedingfield 102nd (13:29). In the girls race at this same age group over the same course Libby Shepherd was first back for Holmfirth 65th (13:45)her team was completed by Millie Stewart 114th (14:17), Annie Stone 131th (14.27) and Alice Shelbourne 212th (16.49).

Yorkshire bronze medalist Olivia Sykes enjoyed another tremendous race to lead the Holmfirth U15 girls team home in style  to finish 4th. Run in appalling conditions the girls raced over a 4km course battling horizontal rain and hail.  Olivia finished strongly overtaking 3 athletes on the home straight to take 4th place (15:47), she was joined by team mates Erica Byram with an excellent run in 13th (16:13), Lucy Byram running strongly in the tough conditions 27th (16:47) the team completed by Amy Kettlewell in 120th (19.51). Daisy Smith ran well to finish in 136th (21.13). In the U15 boys race also over the 4km distance Seth Waterman was first back for Holmfirth 63rd (15:48) Harry Shelbourne was next back 84th (16.07) with Isaac Shepherd and Lewis Bartholomew completing the boys team in 94th (16.25) and 109th (16.48). William Johnson and Shea Kerry also ran well to finish in 112th and 152 positions with times of 16;52 and 18:05.

The U17 mens race was of considerable interest to the Holmfirth spectators with 8 athletes competing. The first of these home for the club was Lewis Byram with a very strong run to finish in 12th position in 20:48, the other team places were filled by Alex Robinson 55th (22:29), Chris Law 58th (22.37) and Lavell Pierre 59th (22.39) the team finished 9th. Also running well were George Green 75th (23.01), Kai Sunman 85th (23.34), Eddie Hinchliffe 96th (24.17) and Joe Law 112th (25.45).

Seniors take gold

Holmfirth’s ladies continued their cross country season success by making Club history, taking home gold medals in a convincing win over fellow Yorkshire club, Leeds City.

The ladies were out in force and all ran above expectations, having been led home by Katie Walshaw (30:22).  Helen Berry had a tremendous run, gradually working through the field on the first lap to settle down in 13th place (32:47) on the second and final lap.

Katie centre with president of NOEAAFresh from warm weather training in Tenerife, Helen Fines ran well in 18th place (33:42). With Claire Leaver, now fully recovered from seasonal illness, putting in her best performance to date in these Championships in 43rd place (35:33), the team was complete with an impressive 75 points. It wasn’t until the Championship presentation that the team learnt the colour of their medals, with which they and their supporters were delighted.  Leeds took silver with 96 points and Jarrow & Hebburn from the north east were awarded bronze with 167 points.

Club stalwarts Maggie Sykes, having clocked a PB of 1:23 in the Brass Monkey Half Marathon last weekend, and Lucy Needham, finished in 56th (36:14) and 75th (37:37) respectively.

The Mayor of Knowsley (far left) with senior women medallists: Katie gold (centre), Susan Partridge bronze (left) and Rosie Smith Silver (right).

With the muddy conditions gradually getting worse, 613 athletes started the 12km senior men’s race. Triathlete Richard Anderson led the way for the Holmfirth team by finishing in 53rd (45:53), he was closely followed by Dave Watson in 61st (46:14). Philip Hewitt had an excellent run for 148th (50:07) while Alistair Rees was 151st (50:18). Dan Shaw continued his good form to finish 186th (51:22) while the final team counter, Jonny Sykes came 227th (52:36), to seal 14th place. The other Holmfirth finisher was Gareth Humphries in 256th (53:28). The overall race winner was Durham’s Dan Garbutt in a time of 41:17.

In the Junior men’s race of 8km, Peter Brookes had a strong run to finish in 28th place (30:01) while Robert Hinchliffe-Smith came 65th (36:54).


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