Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships

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Pontefract Race Course, Saturday 24th January


The previous week’s snow had all but melted at Pontefract Racecourse, host to the 2015 edition of the North of England cross-country championships leaving the going soft, very soft in places. A good showing of Holmfirth Harriers contested the championships including a large junior contingent who seemed in the main to enjoy this tough course and achieved good results in this regional competition.

Erica Byram Olivia Sykes Northern XC 2015

Erica Byram and Olivia Sykes

The top results for the juniors came in the first few races of the day. The U17s women’s race were first off and enjoyed the best conditions of the day with the ground soft but not yet muddy. Olivia Sykes and Erica Byram who had 2 weeks previously along with Erica’s sister Lucy secured Yorkshire gold medals in the Yorkshire Championships enjoyed superb runs finishing in 8th and 9th places respectively both passing several girls who had beaten them in the Yorkshire race. Daisy Smith Ran strongly in this large field to finish in 95th place and Lucy was forced to pull out with breathing difficulties. The U20 women’s race was next off with Lucy Farquhar the sole club representative. As in the previous race Lucy had a great run beating several of the girls who had beaten her 2 weeks ago and finishing in 20th place.

Lewis Byram

Lewis Byram

The club had strong representation in the men’s U17 event. First home was Lewis Byram in 12th place. Lewis, who had missed the Yorkshire Championships having been on a training camp in Spain, was pleased with this his first race of the new year. Chris Law found his form to finish in 37th less than a minute behind Lewis over this 6km distance, Lavell Pierre and Seth Waterman both ran strongly to finish 61st and 69th respectively as did George Green and Alex Robinson in 80th and 83rd position.

Lavelle Pierre

Lavelle Pierre

The boys’ team finished a creditable 8th. The 8km junior men’s race included 2 Holmfirth athletes Joe Law and Eddie Hinchcliffe paced their races well and passed athletes on the second of their 4km laps. Joe was first back of the pair in 52nd with Eddie in 63rd place.

The U15 races both included Holmfirth representatives in the girls race 6 girls from the club lined up. Libby Shepherd was first home of these finding the course to her liking in 56th place. Genevieve Durrans was next back in 72nd place with Annie Stone just 8 seconds back in 78th. Amy Kettlewell was only another ten seconds down on Annie in 87th. Ellie Sunman still recovering from a nasty virus managed 141st with Jennifer Melia in her first Championship ran well to finish in 149th place. The girls team finished 11th.

The U13 races were the biggest junior fields of the day with 200+ athletes in each. Representing the club in the U13 boys races were Callum Durrans running strongly in 75th, Ned Johnson just 7 seconds behind 85th, Sam Bedingfield another 20 seconds behind 112th and Archie Hall with a well paced run in 163rd. The team finished in 19th. The U13 girls were represented by Alice Shelbourne 179th, and Millie and Ruby Yates both in their first Championship race finishing in 164th and 182nd respectively.

Junior Harriers will next be in action on 7th February when they take part in the West Yorkshire Schools Championships at Silcoates School.

Full junior results

U20 men

52 Joe Law 31:09

63 Eddie Hinchliffe 33.42

U20 women

20 Lucy Farquhar 21:28

U17 men

12 Lewis Byram 20:13

37 Chris Law 21:08

61 Lavell Pierre 21:57

69 Seth Waterman 22:08

80 George Green 22:41

83 Alex Robinson 22:48

U17 women

8 Olivia Sykes 18:04

9 Erica Byram 18:08

95 Daisy Smith 26:05

U15 Boys

58 Harry Shelbourne 15:11

61 Will Johnson 15:16

150 Fionn Kerry 17:16

U15 Girls

56 Libby Shepherd 17:25

72 Genevieve Durrans 17:50

78 Annie Stone 17:58

87 Amy Kettlewell 18:09

141 Ellie Sunman 20:41

149 Jennifer Melia 22:18

U13 boys

75 Callum Durrans 12:13

85 Ned Johnson 12:20

112 Sam Bedingfield 12:39

163 Archie Hall 13:36

U13 Girls

164 Millie Yates 14:34

179 Alice Shelbourne 15:19

182 Ruby Yates 15:26

Senior Women's

The course was fairly well chewed up in parts by the time the Women’s race set off over a two-lap, 8km course. Having won both the team and individual Championship titles in 2014, it was going to be incredibly tough for Holmfirth’s ladies to medal with so many athletes sidelined with injury, including last year’s Northern Champion Katie Walshaw. Only three athletes were fit to race but they all put in strong performances. Helen Berry equalled last year’s position of 13th (30:53) though in a much larger and stronger field this time. Helen Fines is regaining her fitness and did well to finish 37th (32:51) and Zoe Storr enjoyed the race with a pleasing 132nd place (37:28) in a field of almost 350. The race was won by Elle Vernon of Stockport Harriers in 28:22 and Yorkshire Champions Rotherham Harriers also took the Northern title.

Senior Men's

Mark Buckingham

Mark Buckingham

The final race of the day was the Senior Men, over 3 large laps, a distance of 12kms. Seven hundred men lined up including reigning Olympic Triathlon Champion, Alistair Brownlee, the defending Northern Champion Dan Garbutt, Nick Swinburn 2nd in the NE County Championships, Scottish International, Derek Hawkins runner-up at the Ribble Valley 10k, 2014 Yorkshire Cross Country Champion Andy Heyes and Holmfirth’s leading athlete Mark Buckingham who had run the fastest time at the Northern Six Stage Relays over 6 kms in September 2014.

Peter Brookes and Richard Smith

Peter Brookes and Richard Smith

The course was quite muddy in places, but the pace was fast from the start with a leading group of around 20 athletes, beginning to stretch the field. The early lead kept changing as the athletes jostled for position and on lap two the lead was down to ten athletes, with Brownlee starting to make a break along with two Stockport athletes. Eventually Brownlee moved into the lead with Andrew Davies of Stockport on his shoulder. As they went up the final climb to the finish Davies moved into the lead and went on to win in 37.44, with Brownlee (Bingley) 2nd in 37.50 and Patrick Martin of Stockport 3rd 38.01. Buckingham had eased off the fast pace at around 7kms, but then rallied in the final 3 kms and was able to gain one place to finish 9th in 38.29. Morpeth Harriers clinched the team title with 91 points although they only had one athlete in the top 10. Stockport Harriers took the silver medals (100 points) with 4 athletes in the first 10 and Leeds City won bronze medals. Holmfirth finished an excellent 6th team out of 58 teams, with Buckingham 9th, another superb run by 44 year-old Dave Watson 46th (41.10), Richard Anderson improving with each race 58th (41.46), Peter Brookes the youngest member of the team 76th (42.23), another solid run from Richard Smith 82nd (42.46) and the final counter Dave Turnbull returning to fitness 100th 43.15. Chris Beadle ran a great race finishing 303rd (48.56) and the oldest member of the Holmfirth team was David Williams a great performance for 393rd (51.12).


Full results:http://www.northernathletics.org.uk/results-index/results-index-2015/

Photos - courtesy of Woodentops

Senior men:

Senior women:

Junior men:

MU17, BY13, GU15, BU15:

Junior Women, WU17, GU13
Copyright Holmfirth Harriers Athletics Club 2012