Berry, Berry Good
The sunny, autumnal day made for good running and spectating at Berry Park, Mansfield and was in contrast with last year's wet, muddy and slower conditions. As a person with 40 years running, this was my first visit to the Mecca of the ECCA National Cross-Country Championships since it moved there in 1989. It was inspirational not only to witness Britain's finest talent in full flow in their various age-groups from U13 upwards but to observe their gutsy determination epitomised at the start where club Chairman and Chief Starter David Brown CBE shouted himself hoarse restraining their nervous eagerness before the gun and then haring off clamouring for positions whilst vigorously elbowing out of their way those in their path.
It was a great day for the club which has promising squads with depth and talent and coached by excellent coaches who work together in unprecedented ways.
The most successful of the day's teams were our U13 girls. They won magnificent silver medals and the trio of Aine Cunningham, Ellie Twite and Olivia Green recorded the club's best result in twenty years. Indeed, Ellie even went into the lead on the second leg! Further, the 'B' team of Claudia Cowan, Frankie Hacker-Davis and Niamh Nugent, in only her second race for the team and a year young, finished top 'B' team in 12th place that, until last year would have placed them the club's best 'A' team since the Millennium. Congratulations to all the squad for whom these silver medals were only their latest. They're already this year's Northern Relay Champions and the current Northern XC and National XC bronze medallists. Among the U13 boys, Luke Mc Kendry, Luke Chesters and Harry Brown finished 30th of the eighty competing teams. All are still inexperienced in such a classy arena but nevertheless the performances of this squad were even better than at the MACCL match at Heaton Park a few weeks earlier.
Our U15 girls are also a great little squad who'll produce some good results in the future. All six who comprised the two teams pulled out all the stops and resulted in the A' team finishing 17th; the club's best result for years and the 'B' team finished 46th from the ninety-two national teams. Ciara Lydon finished a commendable 22nd; newcomer Amber Towns is making massive improvement in only her second club race and Catherine Podmore was the all-important third counter for the 'A' team. Then, it's well done to Flora Whyte, Alice Bruce and Hannah Simeen for their 'B' team performances. The U15 boys are a similar squad of runners evidenced by the 'A' team (Adam Roden, & Adam & Jake Spilbury) finishing 37th and the 'B' team (Dylan Stanway, Dylan Birchill and Adam Kinghorn) very close behind in 46th place. Well done to all of them.
Megan Davies, Chloe Yates and Rachel Hibberd finished 23rd in the U17 women's event, an improvement on last year with Megan and Chloe also improving their finishing positions with Rachel making her debut in this age-group. Well done to these girls for keeping the club's flag flying in a difficult age category.
It's a decade since the club could boast an U20 men's squad of the calibre of the current one. This formidable and well-knit group produced the club's best position since the section last won medals way back in 1999. Ryan Moore threw done the gauntlet to finish 7th; Charlie Hulson is in superb form and took the team into the silver medal position and newcomer Luke Betts sealed the final 6th place.
Finally then, the senior men! Again, a strong squad that had confidence of winning medals that have eluded them for at least twenty years. Despite James Bailey admitting his first leg disappointment, Antony Ford followed with a very strong second leg and Simon Horsfield was even faster again on the penultimate stage. There was excitement as in-form Matt Bond speeded off that he might haul back some of the 'escaped' scalps and return us to a medal contention. He battled well sometimes even leading the following group of four but was pipped to the line in the final chase by Morpeth's Mc Cormick to give us the final (excellent!) 5th place. Belgrave AC won the Championship and interestingly, the next five teams were all Northern Clubs - Leeds, Stockport, Morpeth, Sale and Altrincham. We finished three teams with the 'B' team of Gavin Hill, Gaz Raven, Daniel Bradford and Mike Kilmartin finishing an impressive 26th for 4th 'B' team nationally. Dean Hardman (who ran 1:15 quicker than last year despite being frustrated by injury), Chris Donnelly (cruised round having finished 6th in the Preston HM the previous weekend), Steve Townley (a warm-up for the Tatton HM the following day) and Dan Whittaker, completed the 'C' team in 89th place.
(Produced by Fechin Mc Cormick. Photos courtesy of http://www.darkstarphotos.com.)
Posted 07/11/2012 19:15