English Schools XC Championship

The Harriers contingent of school age athletes had the privilege of being one of the only major sporting events taking place over the weekend as most events had fallen victim to the ever increasing number of cancellations as the effects of Coronavirus. The English Schools XC event is the showcase event in a long season, and would surly have been cancelled if it was being held even days later. Liverpool’s beautiful Sefton Park hosted the event, and as usual the organisation was terrific and the event run like clockwork, and with conditions much improved the course although wet in places did justice for such an important event for athletes of school age.

There were some outstanding performances from the Harriers in all the age groups and four performances of particular note with performances inside the magical 100 mark.

The Senior Girls (U19’s) saw two top class performances including the final appearance at English Schools over the Country for the 2016 Champion Emily Williams, who was top finisher on the day with a fantastic race to finish in 38th place in 17:16 over the 4400m course to cap a brilliantly consistent 6 years of competing in all the AG with huge distinction including 3 International vests. Williams looked slightly leggy after the Inter-County race the week earlier, and after a long winter season, but she put another class performance and will certainly enjoy the benefits of a productive XC season once her Track season starts.

Emily Williams final appearance in ES over Cross Country with a fantastic race for 38th

Amelia McMurtrie also running in the Senior Girls race as a bottom year athlete enjoyed a brilliant race to finish in 88th place (18:04) easily her highest ever placing over the past 5 years by 135 places, McMurtrie suffered a fall during the race resulting in some minor cuts & Bruises but as is typical with the 16 year old she picked herself up and just got on with the job. This is easily McMurtrie's best ever XC season since joining the Harriers in the summer, and she is keenly waiting to start her Track season with English Schools track qualification times her main focus.

Amelia McMurtrie best ever performance over ES with a 135 place improvement

Inter Girl’s (U17)Alice Bates ran a terrific race as a bottom year athlete, finishing in 59th place with a strong run in 13:37 over the 3800m course. Bates had a much more consistent race looking strong through to the finish and she also now eyes up possible ES quali times on track as her main focus going forward with the cancellation of the Virgin Mini Marathon race & East Midlands trials now not an option. New addition to the squad Abigail Thayanithy, a Northampton based athlete, also enjoyed a strong race with her best placing by 62 places at ES in 230th place in 14:51 and she now looks to settle in the squad over the next few months and assess her options on track in the summer. Freya Batkin also ran well to finish in 272nd place (15:08) while Charlotte Lund, who is also Harriers bound, ran well despite not being 100% fit for 289th (15:18) still a small improvement on her 303rd in 2019.

Alice Bates terrific race for 59th as a bottom year athlete

Junior Girl (U15) Alice Bennett, making her English Schools XC debut, put in a great performance to finish in 100th place over the 3000m course in 12:23 to top score for the County Team. Bennett is slowly warming to XC and she will look to reap the benefits of and increased endurance base before commencing her track season which saw her ranked 8th & 11th in the UK over 1500m & 800m respectively as a bottom year athlete.

Alice Bennett making her ES XC debut with a fine run for 100th place

Dylan White also making his English Schools XC debut as a bottom Junior Boy (U15), ran a fine race over the 4400m course for 166th in 16:26 and 2nd top scorer for the County Team, capping a hugely consistent XC season

There were three Harriers in action in the In the Inter Boys race over 5500m, with bottom year Luke Cole improving his position from the previous year by 63 places to finish in 249th in 21:15 with Top year Josh Geddes also improving his position by 35 places for 260th (21:31) & Callum Cox making his debut in 273rd (21:31) all packing well.

Dylan Dowley, still short of race fitness ran well in the Senior Boys race as a bottom year for 281st in 25:49 over the 6700m course.

Well done to everyone with some great performances, and all now enjoy a short break before commencing their track season campaign, which looks likely to be affected by the Coronavirus outbreak and restrictions on races/ open meeting looking likely.