Harriers in County Schools bonanza

The Harriers added to their best ever tally in the NAA county Championships 2 weeks ago with another Golden Bonanza in the County Schools Cross Country Championships with four of the middle-distance squad winning Gold medals, with 3 Silver medals and a Bronze from 9 races. There were also two double County Champions crowned with U11 Jess Lamb & U15 Alice Bates following up with their victories from the NAA Championships.

Three of the Gold medalists from left to right U19 Emily Williams, U15 Alice Bennett, U17 Alice bates & silver medalist U19 Amelia McMurtrie

On a cold and clear sunny day conditions were still pretty tough with much of the course saturated from weeks of above average rainfall, the scene was set for some terrific cross-country racing.

Things got off to a great start in the combined U11 Boys & Girls race which saw another superb race from Jess Lamb who dominated the race to win her second County Championship in 2 weeks, with the Silver medal also being won by Peyton Almond for the Harriers. Lamb, despite the race being miss directed by poor marshalling, kept her focus and followed the slightly obscure course mapped out by the confused leading boys to take a fine victory. Club colleague Almond also ran a fine race to make it a consecutive one two for the U11’s, with both qualifying for the next round and also securing qualification for the Northants team competing at the National primary school XC championships in March.. Also in action for the Harriers were Billie Robinson & Sophie Panter who ran well for 18th & 20th respectively.

U11 Jessica Lamb fine run to take her 2nd County XC title in 2 weeks

In the U13 Girls race Maggie Gancheva enjoyed a much better performance than the NAA Championships, sitting on the eventual race winner Ella Darby throughout the race she looked strong over the 2500m course to finish with a fantastic Silver medal in 9:55, just 7 seconds behind Darby. Ellie Separovic is steadily improving and she ran a strong race to finish in 13th place and qualify for the Inter Counties Anglian trophy along with Gancheva in 2 weeks’ time in Boston. Both make the county team competing at the National primary schools XC championships.

U13 Maggie Gancheva produced a terrific run for a silver medal

In the U13 Boys race Nathan Lamb ran well for 4th place over the 3350m course, running down the bronze medallist Dominic Button with a terrific finish in 13:48 to miss the medal by just a second and was also rewarded with selection for the County team competing at the National primary schools XC championships. Bottom year George Sharp found the going a little hard over the longer distance, but ran well to finish in a fine 14th place and qualify along with Lamb for the Anglian trophy. Other Harriers competing well were Fynn Currie (16th), Zac Scott (18th) & Finlay Brooker in 25th place (all bottom year athletes). George Sharp, Finn Currie, Zac Scott & Finley Brooker all qualified for the County team for the National primary schools XC.

In the U15 Girls race Alice Bennet ran a brilliant race to shake off the disappointment of the NAA champs where she was recovering from a virus to win her first County Schools title. Bennet stuck to her pre-race plan to sit in on the leader over the 3350m course and to take on the race over the final 500m, she executed to perfection and looked comfortable taking the gold medal in 14:12 ahead of Northampton AC's Zineb Zbirou. Bennett will compete in 2 weeks’ time at the Anglian Trophy.

U15 Alice Bennett winning her first County Schools title with a brilliant run

The U15 Boys race saw recently crowned NAA County Champion & North Midlands XC Champions Dylan White racing as a bottom year athlete, and he put in a terrific performance to take an impressive Bronze medal over the 4175m course in 15:57, with fine performances from Lucas Rogers in 7th place (16:16) & George Separovic in 13th place (16:39) ensuring that all three progressed through to the Anglian Trophy.

Dylan White (right) with a terrific run for a Bronze medal as a bottom year athlete.

The U17 Girls race saw another totally dominant performance from 14 year old Alice Bates who easily won the 3750m race with a typical front running display to win in 15:11, 30 seconds ahead of the NAA U17 County Champion Lucy Watts. Freya Batkin ran well for 7th place in 16:15 & joins Bates in qualifying for the Anglian Trophy in 2 weeks & Bates will no doubt face a stiffer challenger in her next race at the Midland Counties next weekend. Toni Robinson ran well for 15th place and will be a reserve for the Anglian Trophy.

Double County XC Champion Alice Bates with a dominat run in the U17 Girls race

The U17 Boys race saw no less than 10 of the middle distance squad in action, with most running as bottom year athletes the going was a little tougher than the NAA champs. Luke Cole was the top finisher with a fine race to finish the tough 5850m course just out of the medals in 4th place in 21:31, with a terrific battle between Harriers Idayi Jumbe & Rio Carr with the former making the most of his 400m pace to finish in 7th place in 21:39, with Carr finishing in 9th in 21:47, and Josh Geddes one place behind in 10th (21:54) & final qualifiers Josh Clutton (22:59) & Callum Cox (23:01) in 13th & 14th place respectively. Ryan Raulia (15th) Jake Nickerson (19th) Ben Brooker (22nd) and Siddharth Zumkhawala (26th) all ran well.

The final race with Harriers involvement saw another one two in the U19 Girls race over 4175m, with Emily Williams winning a superb Gold with the largest winning margin of the day in 16:30 and Amelia McMurtrie taking a fine Silver in 17:33 with a strong run. It was a bitter sweet moment for Williams running her final County Schools XC race in a career which has seen her win 5th consecutive County Schools titles (6 in total). Williams has served the county well over the country winning three international vests and storming to victory in the iconic English Schools National Championship in 2016. Williams take a temporary break from Xc when she heads to Bratislava to compete for England indoors over 1500m.

Largest winning margin on the day for U19 Emily Williams to win her 5th successive Co-Schools title

Amelia McMurtrie strong run for the silver medal in the U19 Girls race

It was a brilliant weekend with a total of 21 athletes qualifying for the Anglian trophy in 2 weeks, and with some of the squad in action at the Midland Counties Championship next weekend the cross Country season is now well and truly in full swing.

Well done to all the athletes who ran.