Bates England win highlight of a busy weekend of XC

Alice Bates put in another brilliant performance at the 2nd meeting in the British Athletics Cross Challenge series held at the traditional location of the tear drop lakes at Milton Keynes. Representing England for her first Home Countries International Bates stormed to an impressive victory to win her first International for the combined U17/U20 AG to lead England to a decisive team victory.


Fine victory for Alice Bates representing England in her first Home Countries International


Bates who has been in imperious form this season went into the race with high expectations and she didn’t disappoint. Competing for the first time in an England vest she had decided to try and run a more tactical race over the 5km course sitting in the high-quality field on the opening 3km and not push the pace too early. The Teardrop Lakes course is deceptively tough with fast flat sections, three short steep hills and twists and turns thrown in for a true cross country test.


Bates was well in control on the larger lap and with just over 1km to go she put in a significant injection of pace coming off the final steep decent to split the large front pack with U20’s Megan Harris, who she had beaten the week before at the National XC relays, and teenage phenomenon Beatrice Wood giving chase. Bates continued to push the pace over the final 300m and she powered her way to her first International win 3 seconds ahead of Wood in 17:29 with Harris finishing in third (17:34).


Alice Bates leads the high quality U20 & U17 field on rote to her first International win


Bates had run a much more controlled race, and the win will give her confidence going into the GB Juniors selection race at Liverpool in 2 weeks where places are up for grabs for the GB Juniors team to compete at the European XC Championships in Turin on 11th December.   


Coach Shane Smith was delighted with the maturity Alice showed “Alice and I had decided to run the race a little differently from the opening British Athletics Cross Challenge race at Cardiff, and to sit in and test her closing pace in the final km. This worked well, and I was very happy with the way she executed the race, she is growing in stature this winter and she has given herself every chance of nudging her way into the GB team if she continues her fine form at Liverpool”. 


Alice secured the prize money for her second series U20 win, together with a two individual medals (England team Gold & the UK cross U20 win) and a home countries winners shield as she continues to carve out a reputation as one of the top XC Juniors in the country.


Also racing well was U15 Maggie Gancheva who went into the race following a slightly disappointing performance at the National XC relays the week before, where she was severely boxed after a poor start.


Not so on this occasion with Gancheva getting a brilliant start to ease her way into the top 10, before settling down and getting into her running. With 4.4km course, 800m specialist Gancheva decided to ensure she left something for the latter stages of the race, and she certainly paced her race to perfection, taking places all the way to the finish line to finish in a superb 17th place in 17:54, a result that much more reflects the ability she shows in training.


Maggie Gancheva (4069) gives chase to the finish line to take 17th place


The final Harriers in action was U20 Lucas Mansell who ran well over the 7km course to finish in 43rd place in 24:59.


North Midland League

The second North Midland XC League was an opportunity for the Harriers to put on their XC spikes and compete in one of the toughest sports around. The 2nd fixture took placer near to home with Corby AC hosting the event at the West Glebe park, with a true test for the athletes.


The boys were out in force and the result of the day was the U17M with a fine team winning performance with 21 points. Leading the Harriers home was Dylan White enjoyed a superb race completing the two laps of the tough 3km course in 21:09 for 4th place, closely followed by Lucas Rogers in 6th place (21:19) with and Ellis Johnson in 11th (22:24) completing the team scoring.


The U15 Boys also fared well finishing second in the team event just 3 points behind Derby, with the highest individual placing on the day for Dylan Ransom who had a terrific run for 3rd place overall and completed the 5km course in 18:04. The fast improving Evan Willis was close behind in 7th place with a fine run for 7th (18:20), with the third and final scorer James Clutton in 17th place (19:40) shadowed by Zachary Scott in 18th (19:45) with Finley Brooker in 21st (20:15) the final KTH athlete.   


Dylan Ransom with a fine run for 3rd place the highest placed KTH athlete on the day


The U13 Boys finished in third place in the team event with 42 points and it was again Harlee Hooker top scorer enjoying a fine race to finish the 3km course in 11:21 for 8th place, Oliver smith who is really getting to grips with XC was very close behind in 11th (11:27) with Harry Embery final scorer in 23rd (12:15) and Samuel Philip 28th (13:35) the final Harrier home.


The senior men also ran well to finish top 10 in the teams stakes with Jack Chennell top scoring with a fine run in 28th place covering the 10km course in 33:58, with ever consistent Josh Cannell in 53rd (35:05), with solid runs from Joe Young in 62nd (35:37) Phil west 75th (36:54) and Ben Brooker 88th (37:55) all packing well to complete the scoring. Tony James (91st) Rafal Buzuk (92nd) & Steve Green (104th) all ran well.


With many competing events the turnout for the Girls/ women was very low, with just two Harriers competing. U13 Sabine Lawton making her KTH XC debut ran well for 15th place over the 3km course showing her recent training with the MD squad is starting to pay dividends. The only SW in action over the 6km course was Nicola McCann who finished in a respectable 98th place in 31:06.


ESAA Cross Country Cup


Many of the younger athletes were competing in the Schools XC cup and there was considerable success in the East Central regional final staged at the impressive surroundings of Stowe School.


Jemima Davey who is settling in well as a boarder at Millfield school started her XC campaign well with a fine 2nd place in South West Regionals with a hard fought 2nd place after twisting her ankle mid-way through the race, she helped the team with a comfortable win and she will be looking forward to the final on 03rd December 


Jemima Davey hung on with a sprained ankle for a superb 2nd place finish


For the Junior Boys Rafferty Davey headed a strong Kimbolton Contingent with a fine run for 5th place, the joint KTH highest performance on the day, to help the team finish 2nd and he will also progress through to the final in December like his older sibling.


Rafferty Davey with a terrific run for 5th place ensuring the junior boys progress to the final



In the Junior Girls race, the fast improving Tiggy Guthrie-Brown enjoyed perhaps one of her best races over XC with an impressive 7th place finish and Clara Booth also racing very well for 15th place, both competing for Kimbolton School.


Tiggy Guthrie-Brown in good form with a fine 7th place


Camille Chassaigne also competing for Kimbolton school finished in 30th place in the Intermediate girls race.


Northampton School for Boys A level students Alice Bennett & Abigail Thayanithy both competing for the Senior Girls enjoyed fine races with Bennett the highest placed athlete in the competition in a superb 5th place with Thayanithy just outside the top 10 in 11th place.


Well done to everyone who competed over a busy weekend of XC action.