Harriers deliver medals in county XC mud bath

The recent very wet weather, and near constant heavy rain throughout the day led to hugely challenging conditions for Northants 2014 county cross country championships held in a very soggy Wicksteed Park over the amended course used for the recent Charity Cup races. Despite the condition the Harriers contingent of athletes produced the goods with 8 individual medals, 8 team medals, and 19 athletes winning selection to represent their county at the Inter-Counties championships in March.

In the U11 combined race Daisy Robinson was top scorer in the girl’s race, running a fine race to finish in 5th with Emma Robinson, and Hollie Reynolds providing support finishing in 9th & 11th respectively to help the harriers to Silver team medal position. Silver team medals were also won with the U11 boys race where Hal Robinson (Twin of Emma) top scored for the harriers with a super run for 7th and Ethan Nelis (11th) and Rory Pateman (12th) also scoring for the team. It was sad to see that Dylan Bowley who had been in unbeatable form all season unable to compete due to a bout of chicken pox.

In the first of the NAA qualification races, the U13 combined race also brought Silver team medals for both the Boys & Girls. In a repeat of the exciting Charity Cup race a few weeks earlier Harrier Emily Williams was battling hard with local rival Poppy Carmichael, the two again were neck and neck throughout the 2500m course, and again it was left to the final 300m to separate the two, Carmichael just proving to be stronger in the dying stages to take individual gold, and Emily who ran a determined race finishing a close second for individual Silver and selection for the NAA team. Support for the Silver team medal was from Jenifer Robinson who ran a strong race for 9th just outside of the qualification places, and Fay Robinson (sister to U11 Emma & Hal) final scorer in 12th to ensure all the family were rewarded with silver medals! In the U13B race Henri Codling was top finisher for the Harriers with a fine run to finish just off the medals in 5th and securing NAA team selection, with Josh Cannell running a strong race for 15th, and Nathaniel Farr in 17th being the other scorers for team Silver medal.

In the U15 combined race over 4000m there were some terrific individual performances with the U15G ensuring the Harriers won team Gold. In a very close competition the Harriers just edged out R&N by a single point with Claudia Nevett who agonising finished just outside of the qualification places last year made no mistake with a superb run to finish in individual silver medal position. Sophie Moss underlined her recent improved form to finish second scorer in 5th position with a fine run, and Beth Gordon showed great character to just hold off fellow harrier Rebecca Hughes for 7th position as final scorer with All three girls securing selection for the NAA team. There were good runs from Rebecca Hughes (8th), Chloe Hearn & Amy Robinson (11th & 12th) & Hannah Winstone (14th) showing the real in depth of strength of the squad in this age group. Ex harrier Tabatha Walford was sadly injured during the race but was selected to represent the NAA team based on her tremendous from over many years. In the U15B race, Ethan Mehmet ran a much improved race to finish in the medals with a fine Bronze and earn selection for the NAA team, and Jai Sharma also ran well to finish in 13th.

It was once again the U17 men & Woman Team which bore the most fruit with two Team Gold’s & 3 individual medals over the 5000m course. The strong U17G squad again delivered with much improved Jess Gordon leading the way with a superb individual silver medal, closing the gap on winner Kirsty Goddard to just 8 seconds, this was supported with fine runs from Abigale Coleman 4th & Gemma Vaughan 5th helping to secure the team Gold, with Fran Ashworth 6th & Lauren Mehmet 7th also running well and all 5 securing selection for the NAA team. The U17M race produced the sole county champion performance of the day, and this was the standout performance for the Harriers with Josh Cara starting to find top form after missing the entire track season with an injury, leading from gun to tape to take the title with a superbly controlled race, Gold team medal was secured with a fine run and bronze medal for Jack Hope, and another quality run from Edward Cannell for 6th, with Matt Brookes also running well for 8th, and all 4 securing NAA selection.

The U20 races also produced two individual Bronze medals with Claudia Kelsall also finding her way to some form following a series in injuries running a quality race to finish 3rd and secure NAA selection. In the U20 men’s race held over 10km on ground that was now sapping the strength from the legs, it was Lewis Hayes who led the way for the Harriers, now starting to get to grips with the longer distances Lewis ran a strong race to secure individual Bronze, and Liam Kirk in 5th and twin Jed Hayes 7th both running well to earn selection to the NAA team, but unfortunately there was no team Gold as their positions count towards the SM race.

In the Senior Women’s race, ex Harrier Sian Edwards easily won the title, with Harriers packing well with Gabriella Ventura, Ann-Marie King & Barbara Fulton finishing in 12/13/14th respectively.

In the Senior Men’s race much reduced in size due to the controversial second claim ruling the Harriers performed well to finish Silver Team medal winners with the U20 contingent helping their cause with just 5 points separating the Harriers from 3rd position Silson. Top scorers were Lewis Hayes 10th, Stephen Thompson 19th, Liam Kirk 21st, Jed Hayes, 26th, Phil West 29th & Andrew Clawson 42nd.

Credit to ALL athletes who competed in extremely tough conditions, overall the results, medal return & NAA selections were very impressive.

Well done to all the helpers (Officials/ marshals/ coaches) who contributed to making this event run smoothly in particular those who braved the conditions at the crack of dawn almost until dusk, Martyn Winstone, Andrew Clawson, Adam Henley, Peter Goringe, & Paul Young, without who’s help this event would not have been possible!

Shane Smith XC team manager