Cara leads the charge at the National!

Josh Cara was the standout performance in U17 men’s race with a magnificent 21st place in the iconic Saucony National Cross County Championships held at the magnificent venue of Parliament Hill, at London’s Hampstead Heath, and it was a day to remember for all of 24 athletes representing Kettering Town Harriers who participated. With Heavy rainfall the previous day ensuring that the tough course was a total mud bath, and although conditions were treacherous all athletes can take pride in completing the course and can take great satisfaction in having competed in one of the greatest races in the UK calendar. This race and venue is steeped in history and summed up by the quote from The Telegraph “It was like a scene from medieval battlefield. Beside the course, hundreds of tents were pitched over a churned hillside, banners unfurled, bearing the colours and crests of running clubs from across the country. What the walkers caught by chance is one of most magnificent sights you can watch in running, and arguably in all sport”.

There was a full complement of parents/ coaches & supporters who braved the cold & wet 07:30 start to take the coach journey down, and a superb day was had by all.

The U17 women’s race was first off with a good field of 235 athletes competing over the 5km course. It was a welcome return for Claudia Nevett, racing for the first time on XC since early December after sustaining a foot injury and she faired very well in her first outing in 2015 with a fine run to finish top Harrier in 110th in 23:16. There was an intense battle between the remaining three harriers competing with Hannah Winstone having a great race & proving to have left just enough in the tank to pass Elana Alberry in the last 100m and fight off the fast finishing Ella Palmer to finish in 150th (24:21), with Elan Alberry perhaps feeling the effects of her recent cold settling for 152nd (24:22) and Ella Palmer continuing her fine debut season in 154th (24:27) to ensure the team finished in a very respectable 12th place.

U17 Women's 12th place team

The U15 boys were next off, with three Harriers in action, Jake Trent was top scorer over the 4.5km course finishing in 228th with Thomas Jawad in 316th after losing his shoe in the race, and Josh Cannell in 360th struggling with the big field and the conditions. There was 371 athletes competing.

The junior women were without Claudia Kelsall (foot injury) but still had a strong team, and they managed to match the U17 women’s team position with a fine 12th place with Jess Gordon continuing her dominance with a fine run for 79th over the two lap 6km course in 28:47, with Fran Ashworth managing to run a remarkable race despite losing both her soles (including the 15mm spikes!) in the treacherous mud from her now vintage 5 season old spikes, finishing in 95th place (29:52), and Abigail Coleman running a solid race in only her second XC outing of the season finishing in 109th (30:59).

Junior Women fine 12th place team

The U13 girls race over 3km was headed by Emily Williams in only her second outing this year and she enjoyed a fine race after struggling on the trickly start, was finishing very strongly in the closing stages to finish in a fine 58th (13:59) and Jennifer Robinson sporting some ferocious war paint finishing in a very respectable 233rd (15:22) with younger sister Daisy struggling to get to grips in the very large field of 433 athletes finishing in 358th (16:42)

The U17 men’s race provided the two best individual performances of the day, with Josh Cara and Jack Hope both making excellent starts, and getting into prominent positions in the opening lap. Josh maintained a top 20 position throughout the race and looks to be getting back to top form with a magnificent 21st place in a strong field of 280 athletes to complete the 6km course in 21:41, with jack Hope also running a superb race finishing in 38th (22:09) and the ever dependable Edward Cannell finishing in 235th.

Josh Cara highest place Harrier in 21st

The U15 girls race there was some good performances with the rapidly improving Chloe Hearne perhaps enjoying her best ever XC race finishing in a very respectable 122nd over the 4km course in 17:54, and Sophie Moss also running well in the large field of 379 in 202nd (18:49).

In the penultimate race with Harriers interest the U13 boys lines up with x3 Harriers competing over the 3km distance. Dylan Bowley still bottom year in the age group ran a superb race to finish in an excellent 56th place in 13:18 and finish ahead of Henri Codling who suffered a fall in the race, & got spiked in the process, recovering well to finish in a fine 88th (13:35), and Harry Darnell also running well in the large field of 395 athletes to finish in a very respectable 211th (14:27)

In the final race of the day it was the superb spectacle of the senior men’s race with an incredible 2005 athletes competing over the gruelling two full lap 12km championship distance, with the course now heavily churned up there was good runs from Andrew Clawson finishing in a respectable 1528th 61:33, and Paul Young 1843rd 69:01

All in all there were some very tired legs making their way back to the coach, but all enjoyed what was a superb days racing, and for many a lifelong memory!

Well done to all the athletes, and thanks to all the coaches, parents and supporters.

For many of the Juniors there is a week rest before the Inter-Counties championship in Birmingham on 07th March, and then the final race of the season English Schools in Blackburn on 14th March.