Gold rush at the County XC Championships

Athletes representing Kettering Town Harriers enjoyed one of the best performances in recent history by winning 4 of the 6 age group categories in the U13-17 (Kayli Walford U17, Tabatha Walford U13G, Josh Cara U15B, Liam Kirk U17M) were all crowned County Champions, with further success in the Senior Men’s race for Matt Almond who won the Men’s title.

There was also further success in the teams events with Gold medal Team performances for the U17W, U15B, Silver medal team for U13G, U15G, U11G & Senior men, with Bronze medal team for U17W & U11 Boys.

There was also a excellent total of 17 athletes selected to represent the County for the Inter-Counties Championships in Birmingham in March.

First race was a mixed event with U17W & U15 Boys competing in a unsurprisingly heavy course in Abington Park venue over 4200m. Josh Cara & Jack Hope were first to hit the front, as the pair dominated the opening lap, Josh forged a 50m lead at the start of the second lap and cruised to a comfortable victory in 16:19, with Jack settling for runner up spot and equally comfortable finishing in 16:34. Edward Cannell saw off a late challenge from Corby AC’s Harry Freeman with his customary strong finish to clinch 7th position 1 second ahead of Freeman. All 3 were selected for the County team and secured a team Gold. Ethan Mehmet just missed out on selection in 9th place.

The strong U17W team were even more dominant by taking all three medal positions with Kayli Walford continuing her excellent XC form. She led from start to finish and was never troubled in cruising to a superb victory in 18:28. Silver medal was taken by the improving Claudia Kelsall who looked comfortable after carving out a small lead from the following pack on lap 2 to finish in 18:47. Third place was a much tighter affair with Abigail Colemen being chased down by the fast finishing Bethan Goddard over the last 400m, but Abigail showed her experience by just managing to hold off Goddard to complete an remarkable 1-2-3 for the Harriers and an obvious Gold Team medal. There was more good news in this age group with a close fought battle between Fran Ashworth who looked comfortable in 6th position (19:13) and Jess Gordon battling hard to finish in 7th (20:10), and Lauren Mehmet securing the last qualification spot to ensure all 6 U17W Harriers were selected finishing in 8th position (20:46) and secure a Team Bronze medal.

The next race saw the younger Walford Sister, Tabatha easily winning the U13G race over 2500m with an imperious victory which saw her beat all but 6 of the U13B also running in the same race, and leading throughout to finish in 10:37, 35 seconds ahead of second place Alison Curtis in one of the biggest winning margins of the day. Rebecca Hughes had a gutsy run to finish just out of the medals in 5th place in 11:25 to secure selection, with Danielle Gaskell and Sophie Moss finishing in 11 & 12th position respectively having to be content with being reserves. The Harriers won Team Silver (Tabbs, Rebecca & Danielle). In the U13B race just one Harrier managed to secure selection in 8th position: Travis Bowley in 10:58, with Oliver Winstone & Joshua Cannell finishing in 17 & 18th respectively, all being rewarded with a Bronze team medal.

The U15G race over 3000m saw Gemma Vaughan enjoying an excellent race to finish in third spot in 14:07 behind Kirsty Goddard & Lily Carmichael from R&N, with Beth Gordon also running well to finish in 6th position in 14:37 with both securing automatic selection. Claudia Nevett was agonisingly just outside of the selection spots in 9th position, but enjoyed a strong race and will be first reserve; all three were rewarded with Silver team medals. Priscilla Wilson & Hannah Winstone also secured reserve spots by finishing in 11 & 12th position respectively.

The mixed U11 boys & Girls race over 1700m meters saw further individual & team success for the Harriers with Henri Codling finishing in an excellent 5th position with Dylan Bowley in 7th, and Sam Cooper in 8th securing team Silver medals for the Harriers. Also running was Rory Nevett in his first ever race finishing in a fine 13th position, along with Zac Winstone (16th) Ethan Nelis (18th) Luke Sheppard (24th). In the Girls Race Emily Williams got off to a slow start but ran strongly over the last 1km to secure an excellent third spot for individual bronze, with Fay Robinson (10th) & Jennifer Robinson (12th) helping to secure a team Bronze medal which was promoted to Silver due to R&N taking the first two team positions and a ruling which prevents a single club winning more than 1 team medal if there are other clubs fielding a full team.

In the U17M race Liam Kirk enjoyed one of his best races for the Harriers to secure the title with a dominant display of front running finishing the 5km course in 20:07, 24 seconds ahead of second place Jack Murphy.

Many of the Youngsters will be in a buoyant mood before competing in the County schools in 2 weeks where they will be looking to secure selection for the Anglian Trophy & English Schools; we wish them the best of luck.

Senior athletes
Kettering’s senior men’s team came agonisingly close to taking the much sought-after team prize. Led home by Matt Almond, who trains regularly at the Kettering track, the Harriers were actually ahead of Corby AC at the halfway stage of the four lap race, but a strong finish by our neighbours saw them end up just five points better off.

Matt was in fine form, moving clear just before halfway to repeat his 2010 victory for KTH at Wicksteed Park. Damian Carr was third home, two places better than last year, taking a well-deserved Senior silver, whilst just outside the medals was Dave Green, who came 5th (4th senior). The Kettering team was completed by Mick Hager (still running strongly as a V60) in 11th, Phil West (20th) and Matt Fowler (21st).
David Edwards took a perhaps unexpected Junior Bronze - his first County XC medal after many years of perseverance – well done! Dan Thompson was 4th Junior. Also competing in a strong Harriers turnout were Stephen Thompson (22nd), Kemal Mehmet (38th) and Anthony Poncia (51st).

It was no surprise to see two former Kettering athletes dominating the Ladies’ race, as Sian Edwards (now representing Swansea) and Nicole Roberts (Birchfield) took the top medals. The Harriers ladies had a very intense private battle of their own, with Babs Fulton (25th) just coming out on top, from Amanda Marlow (26th), Anne-Marie King (28th) and Jill Tierney (32nd).

Congratulations to all who took part!

A link to the results on the Rugby & Northampton website is HERE