Harriers’ show of force at Mansfield
ANEW record was set even before the Saucony English Cross Country Relays got underway on 4th November, with an unprecedented 1243 teams entered.
Started in 1985 in Crystal Palace Park with just three mens’ races, it has been held at Berry Hill Park in Mansfield since 1989 when the ladies’ event was added.
Over the years it has expanded and nowadays racers from the under 13 age category through to seniors can take on the course which is run through a mix of parkland and undulating woodland.
This event is ideal for athletes aiming to qualify later this month for the Great Britain team for the European Cross Country Championships so competition was particularly tough.
Since the advent of the event, all the top British cross country runners have competed over the course around Berry Hill Park, including Stockport Harriers’ own Olympian Ross Millington who was part of the winning under 15 boys team in 2003 and went on to compete in the 10,000 metre Olympic final in Rio last year.
This year Stockport Harriers AC participated in seven of the eight races and again achieved some excellent results.
In the senior competition (for those aged 20 or over) both the Stockport men and women ran very well, with the four-man senior mens’ team completing the 4x5km course to claim seventh place out of a total of 179 teams in 1h:05m:15.6s, just over two minutes adrift of Tonbridge AC who took the title.
Jack Martin was the first Harrier to take on the 5km course on this, the final race of the day, handing over to Jack Morris in 5th place after just 15m:29s, Jack took the lead with his 15m:43s leg handing over to Andy Nixon who finished 6th in 17m:14s and was followed by Jack Nixon who brought the team home for 7th place overall running his own leg in 16m:48s.
Just beforehand the senior ladies had run a spectacular race over their 3*3km course.
Elle Vernon ran the second fastest leg of the day bringing home her 3km leg in just 9m:39s, she was followed by Team New Balance athlete and Club newcomer Anna Silvander who ran 11m:09s before handing over to double international Louise Rudd who brought the team home in 10m:49s to finish in ninth position out of 128 teams with the impressive total time of 31m:38.3s.
Earlier in the day the under 13 boys team of Thomas Manton (7m:01s), Finley Mayoh (7m:33s) and Jack Catterall (7:21s) also ran a great race, building on their recent Northern Cross Country success they ran very strongly over this slightly longer 2km course and finished in an amazing 7th out of 97 complete teams in a total time of 21m:55.75s, with anchorman Jack crossing the line in a fast and furious finish just 25 seconds adrift of eventual winners Kendal Amateur AC.
At the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, the first of four fixtures of the South Yorkshire County Athletics Association (SYCAA) Indoor Combined Events Grand Prix Series for 2017-18 was held for juniors aged 8-15 years. Athletes could compete in up to three events with scores from the first three fixtures contributing towards the end of series awards.
The long jump sand pit was the source of both drama and excitement for Stockport athletes with an abundance of new personal bests being set.
In the under 13 girls’ competition Darcy Breen’s new 4.12 metre personal best landed her second place, ahead of colleague Lola Unsworth in third with 4.08 metres.
Saffron Meade also increased her lifetime best to 3.75 metres.
Darcy and Saffron also won their heats in the 800 metres middle distance event and Lola came second in hers.
In the under 15 girls competition Anya Dunne demonstrated remarkable composure when a netball rolled into the pit just at the moment she was in mid air; managing not only to land the jump safely, but also simultaneously claim a new Long Jump personal best of 3.90 metres, improving her previous best by 13 centimetres - lucky for some.
Melissa Cox jumped over four metres for the first time in setting a massive personal best of 4.20 metres and Daisy Keigher, who came out top in the Long Jump missed the 5 metre mark by just one centimetre with her new personal best of 4.99 metres.
In a remarkable display of focus and determination Rebecca Cox jumped a new personal best in every round, ending the day almost half a metre past her previous lifetime best with a jump of 4.38 metres.
Fellow under 15 competitor Amy Battle won the shot put at this fixture with an immense 11.45 metre throw, more than a metre further than the second placed athlete, and almost half a metre further than she achieved when winning the shot put at SportCity a fortnight ago.
Team mate Daisy improved on her recent shot put personal best bringing it up to 8.18 metres and Rosie Lassiter produced a good consistent series of throws just a few centimetres shy of her own lifetime record.
In the boys’ competition, not to be outdone by big sister Rebecca, Ollie Cox (U13) jumped more than 4 metres for the first time, producing a 4.16 metre personal best to finish 4th in and Arthur Kennedy threw the shot 5.39 metres to claim 5th in that discipline.
In the under 15s Jack Doodson’s 4.95 metre effort was more than enough for second place but some distance behind the 5.47 metre jump produced by Alfie Bugg of City of York AC to win.
Over the border in Wales, half a dozen Stockport Harriers took on the challenge of the Snowdonia Marathon which started just outside Llanberis.
Circling the highest peak in Wales the marathon, which is run mostly on tarmac is dramatic, spectacular and very demanding.
The course is rarely flat at any point, but there are three significant climbs along its 26.2 mile (42.2km) length, the first is a gruelling climb to the top of Llanberis Pass (Pen y Pass 1100ft) and runs from miles 2-4.5, this is followed by a long undulating descent until the about the half way point where there is another sharp climb.
The third steep uphill section starts just before the 22 mile point and climbs steeply for the best part of three miles to the top of Bwlch y Groes (1200ft) before dropping down to the finish in Llanberis itself.
Richard Suttle was the first Stockport Harrier back in the men’s over 45 age category in 3h:41m:05s, followed by Andy Titley (MV55) in 3h:50m:50s and the first of the Stockport Harrier ladies was Lesley Sinclair (FV50) in 3h:54m:14s.
Next week sees the first fixture of the North of England Athletics Association Indoor Open at English Institute of Sport in Sheffield for athletes in under 15 and senior categories and for those who fancy something longer the 9th Conwy Half Marathon will take place on Sunday starting at 10:00 am on the quayside in front of the castle.
●●Rebecca Roach and Rebecca Leather (U15) in the second heat of the 60m at the SYCAA Indoor Combined Events Grand Prix, Sheffield
●●Stephen Cole, Lesley Sinclair and Alison Duckworth at the Snowdonia Marathon