English National Cross Country Relays – 6th November 2021 – race report

The Saucony English Cross Country Relay Championships was held in Berry Hill Park in Mansfield on Saturday 6th November, on an undulating and spectator-friendly course.  Attracting all standards of athlete, from grassroots to the elite, runners get to compete alongside international athletes.  Around 1,000 teams were entered across the 10 races of the day, with 128 entered in the Senior Women’s event and 172 in the men’s.

There was only one junior race in which Holmfirth Harriers was represented and the U17 girls performed very well on the national scene. Isabel Richardson led off on the 2.5km course, coming home in an impressive 7th place of 68 starters in 9:09.  Elena Inch ran well on the second leg, dropping to 16th and clocking a good time of 10:20.  Annie McLean put in a brilliant performance on the final leg, picking up 5 places to bring the team home in 11th place in 9:24, which was the 6th fastest on leg 3.  The race was won by Vale Royal AC.

The Senior women’s race was the penultimate of the day and was held over a 3km course of three legs. Holmfirth Harriers had three teams in this ever-popular event. In a packed start, Katie Walshaw led off for the A team, spending the first few hundred metres up with the leaders before settling in and finishing in 28th place (10:43).  Erica Byram took over on leg 2 and picked up 9 places to 19th (11:02).  With in-form Julia Jagger on the final leg for the A team, she picked up a further 3 places to 16th (10:46).  There was little to differentiate between the Holmfirth teams and with Helen Haigh leading off for the B team (48th in 11:13) she was closely followed by Helena Croft for the C team (57th in 11:32).  Ruby Sykes ran strongly on leg 2 for the B team to bring the them up to 31st position (11:21). Zoe Storr also pulled up some places for the B team, finishing 50th (11:58). Claire Leaver-Hewitt took on the anchor leg for the B team, and feeling a little below par dropped five places to 36th (12:12).  Meanwhile, Cara Inch, a student at Loughborough University and Captain of their Cross Country team demonstrated how well her training with the team has been going as she lifted the C team on the final leg up 20 places to finish 30th (11:00) and ahead of the B team.  The women’s race was won by Aldershot Farnham & District.

The Harriers had just one senior men’s team taking part in the 4x5km relay event. Kai Sunman started led off and ran well in 64th (17:09) in a field of 172 starters.  Damian McQueen had the unenviable position of taking over amongst such strong runners and did well to finish in 102nd (20:45).  Phil Hewitt had a strong run and lost just one place on leg 3 (20:04).  Chris Beadle was a late stand in and gave his all to bring the team home in 107th (22:45) in a total time of 1:20:44. The race won by Shaftesbury Barnet AC in a thrilling final leg, as they overtook both Highgate Harriers AC and Aldershot Farnham & District, in total time of 1:02:58.

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