Great start to 2023 for the Harriers

The Harriers have started 2023 brightly as they competed in the NAA XC County Championship, and athletes from the middle distance squad were also in action at the indoor BMC meeting in Sheffield with some fine opening season performances, and one athlete was involved in the Bulgarian Indoor National Championships and securing a Silver medal!  


Bulgarian born Harrier Maggie Gancheva who has dual Nationality competed in the Bulgarian U18 National Indoor Championships, racing for the first time in her country of birth. Although nervous of her unfamiliar surroundings and despite being seeded in the slowest heat due to her being completely unknown by the Bulgarian Athletic Confederation she produced a brilliant performance to finish with a Silver Medal.


Maggie Gancheva superb run in the Bulgarian National Indoor Championships for a Silver Medal


Gancheva had to race in what was an effective time trial in the slowest heat, and she did a great job despite preferring to race with the best athletes in a conventional race environment. Well ahead after just 200m lap Gancheva continued to pace her race superbly, winding up her final lap to finish in a SB of 2:22.27 to finish almost a lap ahead of her rivals and making an immediate impact. The later heats knew the target and just one athlete managed to run a faster time to snatch the gold, and in future years Gancheva will now hope she can be seeded in the fastest heat now she has a performances in her home Country Championships.


Gancheva caused quite a stir and her family home based Athletics club were delighted that she made such an impact for them. Gancheva will look to secure possible qualification to represent her country over the coming years.      


Indoors, bottom year U20 Alice Bennet produced the performance of the day at the Sheffield  BMC open meet with a brilliant season opening 800m in the Womans ‘A’ race, producing a 2 second indoor PB of 2:09.7 and head to an early UK leading position with a terrifically paced race. Finishing 4th overall Bennett showed she has wintered well and with her sights set on the Commonwealth Youth games in Trinidad & Tobago in the summer she will hope to achieve the 2:08 qualification mark this season. Bennett will be in action at the upcoming London Games at Lee Valley and then onto the England Athletics U20 indoor championships in early February.


Great opening 800m for Alice Bennett, and indoor PB  an early UK leading time


Emily Williams was also in action in the Womans ‘A’ 1500m and she ran well in her season opener to finish in 5th place with 4:38.35 which considering the tactical first lap of 78 seconds was a very decent opening performance. Ben Brooker and Josh Geddes were competing over 800m and the former ran a respectable 2:00.06 particularly as the first lap was sedate, while Geddes who was recovering from a virus ran as well as could be expected in 2:01.21, both will compete again indoors in the coming weeks and will be looking for an improvement.


In the County XC Championships (Northants/ Cambs/ & Somerset) the Harriers struggled somewhat to repeat the successes of recent years, with just one County Champion, U15 Jemima Davey who competed and won the Somerset County Champs a few weeks ago.


The most prominent positions on the day for the Harriers were three Silver & Bronze individual medals and a team Silver for the U15B.


In the U13B race Harlee Hooker & Oliver Smith had superb races finishing in 2nd/ 3rd respectively in a very wet race over 3000m, Hooker & Smith will both earn County vests for the Inter-counties race in March. Also earning a vest was U15G Iona Ellwood who enjoyed a fine race to finish in third place for the Bronze.


Harlee Hooker with a great run in the U13B to grab a Silver Medal


In the U20/SM race over 10,000m Fynn Batkin had a superb run and was prominent througout the race but narrowly missed out on a Gold when he was reeled in over the final 50m by R&N Hayden Arnall, while Lucas Mansell who enjoyed a fine run, also had to settle for Silver in the U20M race behind Banburys Skip Snelson. Both will also receive a County team call up.


Fynn Batkin Superb race to finish in Second place


U20 Lucas Mansell with a fine run for the Silver medal


The U17M & U15B although out of the individual medals both secured team medals with the U17M a team Bronze (Lucas Rogers 8th, Dylan White 10th & Ellis Johnson 13th). The U15B grabbed a team Silver with Dylan Ranson top scoring in 9th with Zac Scott & Evan Willis in 10th & 12th respectively.


The squad hope County Schools XC will bring more success  in the coming week.


Well done to all who ran.