Harriers enjoy English schools mud bath

Two day of heavy rain prior to the start of the English Schools Cross Country Championships on Sat 16th March in Catton Park, South Derbyshire led to conditions that were extremely challenging for the second week running, with ankle deep mud and extremely slippery conditions it was very heavy going for the 11 athletes who competed on the day.


Intermediate girls were first in action over the heavy 3700m course with Harriers in action for Leicestershire and Northants, After the gruelling and tricky start Abigail Coleman (Leics) was the first to show and she ran an excellent race to finish in 175th and 6th scorer for the impressive Leicestershire & Rutland team who finished 4th on the day. Fran Ashworth enjoyed a fine run to close her less favoured XC discipline in 208th position and 3rd county scorer to help Northants to 35th team position. Gemma Vaughan suffered a little in the conditions, and got badly boxed at the start but ensured she finished the race in 310th position. Sadly Jess Gordon had to withdraw from the race to a reoccurrence of an ankle injury.


Junior boys had just one Harrier represented, and Ethan Mehmet enjoyed a good run to finish 252nd and third county scorer in the 4200m race, but sadly there were not sufficient runners for a team finish.


Intermediate Boys were next off with jack Hope looking for a better race than the previous week over the longer 5700m course, Jack ran well and ensured he was first to score for the Northants team for a fine 133rd position, helping the team to a respectable 28th position. Matt Brookes a late substitute ran well to gain useful experience of a National competition to finish in 287th position.


The junior girls had x2 Harriers competing, and the consistent Tabatha Walford was the first Northants scorer and finished in a fine 112th position, with Beth Gordon who struggled to get to grips with the increasingly heavy conditions but battled well to finish in 271st and 6th scorer to help Northants to 40th team position.


The senior Girls with x2 Harriers also competing, was the most successful team of the day, spearheaded by Kayli walford who finished top Harrier of the day in an excellent 64th position with a well-paced race over the 4200m course, Kayli had excellent support with Claudia Kelsall completing her debut XC season with a fine run for 117th and 3rd Northants scorer. The Northants team packed well as a team with other finishers in 82/119/156/166th positions to finish in an impressive 17th position.


Final race of the day was the senior boys race which was held over 6900m and with conditions worsening by the minute and with much of the course ankle deep in mud this was a stern test for Harrier Liam Kirk who continued his fine XC season with a solid run for 181st position and third Northants scorer to help the team to a respectable 32nd.   


It was a very hard finale to a tough XC season for the Harriers who now go into their well-earned 2 week spring break, all looking forward to the track season ahead. Congratulations to all who competed.


Shane Smith - Middle Distance Coach