Double ‘Gold’ for in form Harriers!

The Harriers Middle Distance squad produced a stunning display of team running by securing two Midland Counties Road Relay Area Championships in the U13 Girls & U17 Woman’s races, a first for the club. You must go back to 2004 which was the last time the Harriers secured a victory in the MC Road Relays. To produce two age group victories in the x6 AG races on offer is a rarity for any club and really underlines what a record-breaking season the squad are enjoying.


There were teams entered for all age groups including the senior men & women, and there were some brilliant individual and team performances on show on a fine day for racing. Held at the traditional session in Sutton Park over the 3.88km course (U13-U17) with the senior women running 4.33km and the senior men 5.84km, it was great to see this hugely popular event back on after the covid affected 2020 resulted in an inevitable cancellation.  


First off were the U13 AG with the Harriers fielding two team in each category, and the U13 G perhaps eyeing up a podium finish after a terrific track season. The Girls ‘A’ team consisting of two bottom year athletes, one of whom had just turned 11, were all competing at the event for the first time but they put is a brilliant performance.


U13G Gold Medalists left to right, Jess Lamb, Tiggy Guthrie-Brown, Jemima Davey Midland County U13 Road Relay Champions


Jess Lamb the lead athlete got off to a great start, but wisely listened to the advice of her coach and started steady up the challenging 300m hill at the start and just sat in the pack ready for make her move on the flatter/ downhill section. Lamb ran a very mature race and broke away from the pack with just Wreake & Soar’s Violet Rudkin for company in the closing stages, as Rudkin lead into the up-hill finish Lamb showed her 800m quality and went on to win the first leg with a slender 3 second margin in 14:57.


Next off was 11-year-old Tiggy Guthrie-Brown who was very nervous competing in her first Regional Championship. Guthrie-Brown also showed great maturity running a fantastic leg and only dropping 1 place against Cheltenham’s Maddie Thomson who ran the 2nd fasted leg on the day and keeping the Harriers well in the race with Jemima Davey running the third and final leg.


Davey who has broken quality 600m/800m/1500m club records in an extraordinary track season had a 24 second deficit to make up on Cheltenham AC, and she set about business in a controlled way gradually closing down the lead athlete over the first 800m to less than half the original deficit, by 1km she had hit clear air powering her way to a remarkable victory with a split of 14:01, the fastest ever time in the competition over the 3.88km course, and winning the gold medal for the fastest lap of the day. The winning margin was almost 50 seconds, with a combined time of 45:13 and should enable the team to be competitive in the National Road Relays in 2 weeks.   


Jemima Davey leading the U13G team to victory with the fastest ever leg for an U13 in this competiton

There were impressive performances from the U13 Boys ‘A’ team with a top 10 finish, with Finley Brooker (15:06) leading the way on the opening leg to bring the team home in 15th position, with Harlee Hooker making 4 places with his 15:23 leg and Ollie Smith making two places with his leg of 16:00 to bring the team home in 9th place. With all athlete’s bottom year there will be much more to come from this team.

The Respective U13 Girls & Boys ‘B’ teams also performed will finishing in 7th & 16th place respectively.


The U17 Women’s teams also had tremendous strength in depth with a fresh influx of athletes joining the club in the Summer there were two teams entered, sadly the ‘B’ was incomplete.


The ‘A’ team also had podium ambitions and following on from the success of the U13 Girls, the team was suitably fired up. Leading the team off was Alice Bates, slightly under the weather with a cold she none the less produced a fantastic opening let to set the team up, recording her fastest ever time over the course with 13:51, the second fastest time of the day, with Gloucester AC’s Jessica Hill setting the fastest split and taking the first leg over Bates with an 8 second gap.


The second leg was run by Alice Bennett who immediately gave chase on the leading athlete reeling her in and opening a tremendous gap of 50 seconds and setting a marginal PB of 15:02 to set the team up for the final leg. Two years ago, this duo had to hand over a winning margin in the U15 G race as they had no third runner, allowing Saffron to take the win. Ironically it was the Saffron Athlete who joined the Harriers in the Summer, Elsie Robinson, who was hoping to take the title this year in the red & white hoops of the Harriers.


Elsie Robinson set off on the third leg knowing she had a comfortable margin, and although not yet fully back to fitness follow a lengthy period out, she put in a fantastic run to extend the lead to an incredible 2:25 min from Gloucester AC, the largest winning margin of the day. Robinson set a split of 14:21 and powered her way to a team Gold with a team combined time of 43:13, with Bates & Robinson setting the 2nd & 4th fastest times on the day. The team will be hopeful of a good showing in the National Road relays in 2 weeks.


Two of the U17 Women's Winning Team, left to right Alice Bates & Elsie Robinson, brilliant performance with the biggest winning margin of the day

The U17 Women’s ‘B’ team also fared will over the first two legs with a respectable first ever race over this distance for recruit Demi Locker in 16:53 in 24th place on leg 1, with another of the new recruits Sophie Dunbobbin producing a scintillating run on the second leg to make up 14 places with a fantastic 14:59, the fastest leg and 9th fastest on the day.


The U17 Men also produces a sparkling performance finishing just out of the medals in 4th place. Rio Carr run a terrific opening leg to bring the team home in 8th place in 12:55, with Ben Brooker making up one place on the 2nd leg with a fine run in 13:43, and anchor Lucas Mansell making three places to bring the team home in 4th with a gutsy run in 12:52, finishing ahead of local rivals R&N who finished in 8th.     


Fine 4th place for the U17 Mens team left to right, Ben Brooker, Lucas Mansell, Rio Carr


Other notable performances, the senior women fared well with an incomplete team, finishing well inside the qualifying places after 3 legs with Indienne King (15:59) setting the team up with a fine 14th place on the opening leg, Stephanie Lawrie making her KTH debut made two places with a fine 16:51, and Elana Albery made one further place to place the team in 11th with 16:27.


The U15 Girls & Boys teams placed well in 14th & 15th place respectively, with the incomplete men’s team also running well to finish in 46th place after 5 out of the 6 legs.    


It was a record-breaking day for the Harriers and all the performances suggest their will be many fantastic results over the Autumn & Winter competition period.


Well done to all who ran