Bates Brilliant Birmingham debut

Kettering's Alice Bates opened her winter campaign in style anchoring the impressive Birmingham University U20 'A' team to victory in the National Cross Country Relays. The Harriers were also competing in other age group races and produced some terrific individual and team performances.


It was a cold & wet Berry Hill Park, the ancestral home for the competition since 1989, and the conditions were atrocious with heavy rain falling throughout the day adding to existing wet ground conditions to make the competition a true cross country test, one for the purists!


Philosophy student Bates has settled well in her first term at the University of Birmingham and despite successive bouts of fresher's flu preventing her completing a large block of training, but despite this she was in good shape on the day and the race will serve as a calibration as to what she will need to produce to be in contention of making the cut for the GB & NI team for the SPAR European cross country championships being held in in Belgium on 10th December. The trial race is in three weeks in Liverpool and Bates will be hoping she can produce the kind of form which saw her dominate the U20 British Athletics Cross Challenge in 2022.


Alice Bates (Left) part of the Junior Womans winning team (Birmingham University)


Birmingham fielded a strong team over the three 2.5km legs with World Junior 800m finalist Abigail Ives running the opening leg and bringing the team home in 11th place (8:39) with a strong run, with arch rivals Loughborough University leading the way in the opening leg. Handing over to Rose Chesterfield, also a first year fresher, Birmingham pulled back 7 places with a battling run from Chesterfield (8:38) to pull them right back into contention in 4th place after two legs.


With the race far from over Bates still had a job to do, with a 13 second deficit on Loughborough Students ‘B’, and 8 seconds on Loughborough ‘A’ team to make up. Bates had a terrific run and by the halfway point on the twisty 2.5km course she had managed to cruise pass both rival teams and then started to open up a big gap on the chasing pack eventually bringing the team home for a fine victory in 8:41 with a winning margin of 20 seconds, snatching victory from Loughborough Students who finished in 2nd & 3rd place.


Alice Bates hits the front surging ahead of Loughborough Students 'A' team


Bates was delighted with the team win on her Birmingham debut but admits she has a lot of work to do for her upcoming races over the next 5-6 weeks despite being in a reasonable place.


The first KTH team home was again the impressive U13G team who finished in a highly credible 13th place, with Tiggy Guthrie-Brown switching to the opening leg, with Clara Turner and Elsie Bennett 2ns & 3rd respectively. The performance was even more impressive as all girls had raced the day before at the English Schools cup so all feeling the effects in the tough conditions.


Harriers top finishing team was again the U13 Girls, (from L to R) Elsie Bennett, Clara Booth, Tiggy Guthrie-Brown 


Guthrie-Brown ran a fine opening leg over the 2km course and quickly settled into her running, recording the fastest split from the trio with 8:12.8 to bring the team home in 17th place and record the 31st fastest time on the day. The fast improving Clara Booth also ran a fine leg to make up 9 places and record a split just 1 second outside her team mate with 8:13.6 to bring the team into contention for a top 10 finish, handing over to Elsie Bennett, who had retired from her race the day before due to breathing difficulties, Bennett dug deep to run a strong leg of 8:26 to bring the team home in a fantastic 13th place from the 60+ teams competing.


Tiggy Guthrie-Brown fine opening leg, and fastest split from the Harriers Trio


The U17 Women also put in a very respectable performance to finish in 24th place with Magdelana Gancheva running the tough opening leg to record a time over the 2.5km course of 10:16, with the fast improving Lara Turner again putting in a great performance over the second leg with 9:45 to make up almost 30 places to bring the team home in 17th place, with Chelsie Locker on anchor running a split of 10:13 to bring the team home for a fine finish.


U17 Lara Turner with another impressive run over the 2nd leg


The U17 Men also put in a good performance, competing over 3km Evan Willis led the team off to record a time of 10:30 (63rd place) handing over to Joseph Pickering who made up nearly 30 places with a split of 10:22 to bring the team home in 35th place, with Dylan Ransom on anchor recording the quickest split of the trio of 10:16 and a 40th place finish.


Dylan Ransom with a fine run in the U17 Mens race


The U13 Boys finished in a competitive 41st place with bottom year Joshua Spavins again the quickest of the trio, in 7:48 over the 2km course, Spavins had also competed the day before so the performance to finish his leg in 26th was impressive. Harry Ambery a late substitution ran well of limited training to record a split of 9:04 (51st place), with Oliver Smith running the anchor leg in a time of 8:16 to bring the team home in 41st place.


U13 Josh Spavins fine run to finish the opening leg in 26th place


The U15 boys race saw the team finish in a very respectable 44th place with Zachary Scott in his first outing of the winter campaign leading the team off with a time of 7:44 for the 2km course (57th place) handing over to Harlee Hooker who made a number of places on the second leg to finish in 45th (7:52), with George Sharp on anchor bringing the team home with a split of 7:51.


U15 Zachary Scott fine race in his opening race of the winter campaign


The Junior Men consisting of Joshua Geddes and two Loughborough fresher’s, Ben Brooker & Rio Carr finished in a respectable 53rd place, with Geddes with a fine run completing the opening 3km leg in 9:31 (the fastest split of the trio) to finish in 40th place, Brooker ran the second leg and the 800m specialist struggled a little with the conditions to finish his leg in 11:32 (71st), with Carr putting in a strong run as anchor to bring the team home in 53rd place in 10:18.


Junior Men's Joshua Geddes with a fast finish in the opening leg


The Senior Men were the final team competing and they finished in 90th place out of the 163 team competing. Lucas Mansell showed he is settling in well at St Marys with a strong performance over the 5km course to finish his leg in 17:17 for 82nd , with Vet 45 David Locker running the 2nd leg in 19:13 (103rd), handing to Ellis Johnson 21:00 & 116th, with Joe Young also running 19:13 to make up 26 places on the anchor leg.  

Lucas Mansell with the fastest split (17:17) in the SM team over 5km  


Well done to everyone who competed in a true cross country test, with the 2nd North Midland league in a week time, the Harriers will be competing closer to home a Wicksteed park.