Harriers High 5 in County XC Champs

The Harriers enjoyed a fantastic start to the new year with 5 County Champions crowned at the weekends cross county Country Championships matching one of the best performances in recent times in 2020. There was also three Individual Silver medals and a Bronze won, with 5 team medals, 4 Silver & 1 Bronze. The Harriers also had 14 athletes selected to represent their counties at the Inter-Counties Championship on the 12th March, a proud moment for many.    


With the Harriers represented in three counties, the haul of medals was even more impressive as the number of athletes entered was well down on 2020, with some athletes competing indoors and possible affects of the surging Covid rates over the Christmas period. Conditions for the Northants XC Championships were very wet, held over a challenging West Glebe Park in Corby where grip even with the longest spikes was at a premium, conditions were ideal for cross country running.


I one of the performances of the weekend was from 14 year old Maggie Gancheva who swept away the U15G competition in a brilliant race in to win her first ever XC race, and her first County Title. Gancheva sat in for the first km, but quickly opened up a gap and once clear of the chasing pack she piled on the pressure winning in some degree of comfort over the 5km course in 20:58, nearly 40 seconds ahead of 2nd place, R&N Ella Darby. Gancheva has put in a brilliant block of training over the winter season and the performance came as no surprise to coach Shane Smith who was glowing in his summary of the performance

“Maggie has worked so hard both in the Gym and in session after session and to see her win her first XC race with such a commanding performance was a joy to watch, especially as she had a huge smile on her face throughout the race”.

Magdelana (Maggie) Gancheva first ever XC win to take the U15G County title in superb style  

In the U17 W there was also another commanding performance from Alice Bates who comfortably won her third consecutive County Title, completing the 6km course in 26:00 with the largest winning margin of the day, 2 and a half minutes ahead of Corby AC’s Ashley Waters. In the corresponding race in Leicestershire U17 Elsie Robinson ran a very controlled race over the 5km course, sitting in for the first km then upping the pace which proved too much for her competitors allowing her to control the race and win by over a minute and secure her 4th County Title in 23.49.  


U17 Alice Bates largest winning margin of the day to take her third consecutive County title


The final Gold Medals arrived the following day at the Cambridgeshire County Champs, at Priory Park, St Neots on a bright, crisp day, in stark contrast to the previous days racing.

Rafferty Davey was up first in the U11 Boys race and with a field of 32 runners over 1.7km he was eager to bring his strong winter training block to the fore. Davey who is known for his love of Cross Country attacked from the off and opened up a healthy 10m lead over the field in the opening 300m a tough, uphill section of the course. As the field started to spread out Davey was in command with a late attack never really closing the gap he had built, with 800m to go Davey put in a notable effort to pull further away from the field for his maiden County title winning by 80m in a very strong time of 6:36.


U11 Rafferty Davey fine win to take his first County title

In the U13G race the Harriers had Jemima Davey and younger team-mates 11 year olds Clara Booth and Tiggy Guthrie-Brown competing for the team medals as well. Again there was good representation with 33 runners in the field, with Cambridge & Coleridge the dominant club with 11 runners.


Davey had won the U13G title 2 years ago and was clear favourite having recently run the fastest leg at the National XC Relays in November. And so it proved, her class was plain to see and she led from start to finish to win by 20 seconds from Jasmine Christmas from C & C. The impressive victory marked Davey’s 4th successive County Title.


U13 Jemima Davey Dominated her race for her 4th County title 

As bottom year athletes Guthrie-Brown & Booth gained fantastic experience with very encouraging performances to finish 6th and 11th respectively helping the girls win a fantastic team Silver Team medal with Davey & Guthrie-Brown securing County vests.


Other medal success came with U11 Bella Lamb in the 2k U11 race, Lamb ran a fine race in a tight battle with R&N Elsie Bennett, Lamb was just unable to stay with Bennet, but with still another year in the AG, secured a fine Silver in 9.23, just 4 seconds behind the winner. In the corresponding U11B race the sole representative for the Harriers Harris Ellwood ran well for 10th place.


Bella Lamb fine run for the Silver medal in the U11G race


Emily Williams also ran a fine race to win a Silver medal in the U20W race over 6km, in 28:46. Competing to improve her winter endurance, Williams who was badly affected by the pandemic has been making great progress in training in returning to the sort of track form that saw her dominating the UK U17 & U20 1500m rankings and 2022 will be an important year on the journey back.


Emily Williams  won Silver in the U20W race and making good progress back to full fitness


The final Silver was secured by Finn Batkin in the SM race, in a thrilling battle with R&N Haydn Arnall which saw the lead constantly changing over the 10km course, Batkin was just not able to stay with Arnall over the final 800m finishing 9 seconds behind in 32.11 with a fine run. Jack Chennell ran a fine run for 8th place in 34.46, with Josh Cannell in 13th (37,24), Joe Young 15th , Phil west 19th & Rafal Buzuk 21st packing well and helping the team secure a fine Silver medal.


Finn Batkin fine battle with Haydn Arnall to take a SM Silver medal

In the U13G race, Iona Ellwood underlined her recent improvements with a fine individual Bronze medal over the 3km course in 12.08, with Jess Lamb in 4th place (12.33) battling through despite losing much fitness over the Christmas period due to illness, both athletes making the county team.   


U13 Iona Ellwood fine individual Bronze medal highlighting her much improved form.

The U13B race saw two further county team places secured with George Sharp top scoring in 11.38 over the same 3k course, with Finley Brooker in 8th (11.55). Zachary Scott ran well for 9th (12.30) securing a reserve spot for the county team, and helping the team win a Silver medal just 1 point off the Gold. Harry Embery also ran well for 16th place.


The U17M secured a team silver with Lucas rogers top scoring with a fine run for 5th place in 25.01 over the 6k course, with Lucas Mansell in 7th place 25.17 and Ellis Johnson 10th in 27.28 final scorer. Both Lucas’s making the NAA County Team.


The U15B secured a team Bronze with Dylan White & Dylan Ransom in 11th & 12th respectively & final scorer Evan Willis in 16th, with james Clutton in 20th


In the SW race there was just a single entry with Elana Albery running a fine race to finish in 5th place in 27.17, making the county team along with Emily Williams who will be a SW under the Inter-County IAAF age rules.


Indoor BMC Meeting;

Further afield, the small group of athletes competing indoors continued with Alice Bennett competing in the 800m ‘A’ race in a reduced field of 4 athletes due to late withdrawals ran virtually the same time as the week before (2:11.76) to head to an official early UK leading position in the rankings.


Alice Bennett UK leading time for U17W with 2:11.76

Demi Locker running her first indoor 800m opened with a 2:18 with a cautious start to her indoor campaign which will see her compete the Polish Championships over 1000m in mid-February, with no doubt more to come from both.


For the Boys, again over 800m, Josh Geddes Frustratingly had his race pulled forward by 25 mins and had to run his race with barely any warm up but despite this setback he still produced a 1:58.25 SB with a 1 second improvement on his opening run 1 week ago at the Lee Valley open, Ben Brooker run 2:05.93 after fading in the final 200m.


Josh Geddes a good 1 second improvement with 1:58.25 despite the organisers mix up in the start time