Harriers in action at National XC Relays

There were a number of impressive performances from the Harriers at one of the most anticipated cross country events of the year, the ECCA National XC Relays, held at the traditional setting of Berry Hill Park in Mansfield. The course is one of the shortest/ fastest and most challenging in the calendar and appeals to many of the country’s top Middle distance & long distance athletes alike. Conditions underfoot on a damp day were good with recent rainfall hardly affecting the condition of the course following one of the driest summers on record.  


First off for the Harriers were the U20 women who going into the competition were expected to be the highest placed team with the core of the team part of the 5th place finish the U17 Girls enjoyed in 2021. The high expectations were matched with the team finishing in a brilliant 10th place overal in a field of 43 teams. Alice Bates who has been in magnificent form this season headed the team competing in the opening leg and she was on a mission to try and stamp her mark on the competition. Bates did this brilliantly by taking the lead after the opening 500m through the twisting section of the course before powering her way into the wooded section of the course and opening up a gap on the chasing pack. Bates held the gap throughout the remaining 2km course looking in total control and she managed to cross the line in first place, setting the fastest split of the day with 8:28, six seconds ahead of Loughborough students Megan Harris in 2nd place. Demi Locker ran the second leg and fearing that she may come under pressure from the chasing pack she ran a brilliant leg to hold off the charge dropping just 2 places over the 2.5k course to bring the team home in 3rd place in (9:44). Elsie Robinson was running the anchor leg and she ran a fine race to bring the team home with an impressive top 10 finish in 10.02, in a race which was won for the second consecutive year by Loughborough Students AC.


Alice Bates continued with her dominant form in the U20 age group


Next off were the U13B with bottom year Harry Ambery leading the team off and unsurprisingly he found the going tough in the opening leg where many of the clubs top runners are positioned. Running a good race Harry completed the 2k course in 8:24 in 62nd position. Oliver Smith was second leg, and he ran a superb leg to reel in 15 places to finish in 4th in 8:12, with Harlee Hooker in the anchor leg also reeling in another 9 placed on the final leg and top finisher in the team with 7:51 to bring the team home in 38th place out of the 72 team competing.


KTH U13 Boys team (left to right) Harry Ambery, Oliver Smith & Harlee Hooker


The Junior men also put in a highly respectable performance in finishing in 35th place out of the 73 team competing. Josh Geddes just getting settled in in his first year at Birmingham University showed that he has settled in well running the fastest time of the trio in the opening leg with 9.30 for the 3km course to bring the team home in 40th. Lucas Mansell gained a single place on the second leg with a good run to finish in 10:21, and Rio Carr was on the anchor leg reeled in another 4 places with a strong run in 9:40.


The U15 Boys trio also fared well finishing in 49th place out of 95, with Dylan Ransom setting the fastest time in the opening leg of 2.5k with 7:03 for 41st, with Evan Willis running a fine leg in 7:14 to make up 11 places, with Finley Brooker in 7:59 on the final leg.


For the U15 Girls, Maggie Gancheva ran the opening leg and found the going tough after getting blocked off on the start on the short 2k course, she recovered in the later stages to finish in 48th setting the fastest split of the team in 7:54. Iona Ellwood ran the second leg with 8:33 for 53rd place, and Chelsi Locker on anchor made 7 place to bring the team home in a respectable 46th place out of 95 teams.


Emily Williams competing for the Senior Women ran a fine opening leg to show her winter training is going well, she finished in 10:48 over the 3k course to bring the team home in 37th, with Elana Albery also running well to make 2 places in 11:29, and Stacey Barrett on the final leg running 13:26 to bring the team home in 54th place.


Emily Williams with an impressive run in opening leg of the SW race 


In the final race of the day, the senior Men’s race with x4 athletes competing over 5k distance, the Harriers put in a fine performance to finish in 94th overall out of the 198 team participating. 800m specialist Ben Brooker was on the highly competitive opening leg and he completed the course in 19:55 for 148th position, with evergreen Vet 45 Dave Locker running a brilliant second leg, the fastest leg of the team in 18:21, taking 30 places in the process to bring the Harriers home in 118th place. Both Josh Cannell (19:00) & Joe Young (19:00) on the 3rd & 4th leg respectively ran fine races to take a further 24 places between them with Josh handing over to Joe in 106th position.


Dave Locker fastest split from the SM and making a 30 place gain on his leg.


It was a fine days racing and very respectable performances from all age groups in a hotly contest National Championship. Well done to everyone who ran.