Harriers perform well at English National XC

The small Harriers contingent produced some brilliant performances at the English National, with the Girls leading the charge with top performances from Emily Williams, Alice Bennett & Alice Bates the main highlights. The National held at the spectacular grounds of the magnificent 16 century Harewood Country House in an remarkably unseasonal 15 degrees of warm sunshine. The course set within the grounds of the 1000 acres of rolling countryside was as challenging as it was beautiful.

Emily Williams produced her best performance of the season in the opening race which consisted of two 2.5km circuits of the main course. Getting off to her customary great start she quickly settled into the front leading pack in the opening km but there was a ferocious pace being set by the leader, Charlotte Alexander, and Williams slipped back into the chasing pack just before the start of the second lap. Continuing to work hard, Williams remained in the main chasing pack and in the final 200m she produced a superb finish taking places through to the line to finish in a magnificent 12th place in 18:48. Williams was delighted with her return to form and she will be hoping to break into a top 10 placing in her final two races of the season in March.

Emily Williams (157) with her best XC race of the season for 12th place in the U17W

Kettering based U13 Alice Bennett, running in the colours of R&N for the final time before transferring to the Harriers, produced an outstanding performance in what was easily her best race over cross country to finish in a superb 19th place, bettering her previous year’s performance by over 90 places! Bennett got a great start, using her 800m pace to great advantage, and quickly settled into her running just inside the top 40 and in the long downhill part of the course she worked hard to take places, and produced a top quality finish over the final 300m passing athletes through to the finish in 11:33. Bennett, who has been warming to cross country over the past few races, was delighted with her run and on this performance she has firmly underlined her undoubted potential over cross country as well as track and will be a terrific addition to the Harriers squad. Also running well for the Harriers was Maggie Gancheva, who with two further years in this age group, finished in a terrific 208th (12:59) with a strong run with Izzy Brockway putting a respectable performance for 402nd out of the 418 strong field.

Kettering bound Alice Bennett with a superb race for 19th place in the U13G

Alice Bates, who had not enjoyed the best preparation with 10 days missed training with a virus, still managed to produce another top quality performance securing a top 50 placing in the 362 strong field. Bates who is a bottom year U15, also got off to a terrific start, settling into a top 20 position in the first 2km but sadly she was unable to hold the pace and she slipped back slightly over the final km. to finish in 43rd place in 16:18. With her final race in 3 weeks Bates on this showing will undoubtedly have more to offer when she returns to full fitness.

Alice Bates (2960) with a top performance for 43rd place in U15G race

There was also good support in the U15B & U13B races, and in the 4km U15B race top finisher was Josh Clutton who ran a solid race to finish in 217th place in 16:03, with Ryan Raulia recovered sufficiently from some back niggles running a good race for 266th place (16:39) & Ben Brooker finishing in a respectable 293rd place (17:15) out of the 346 runners. For the U13B, there were just two athletes fit to run, with Lucas Rogers top scoring for the Harriers with a fine race in 131st place over the 3km course in 11:37, with George Separovic in 222nd (12:07) also running well in a huge field of 408 athletes.

The final Harriers in Action were in the grueling 10km race, with Josh Cannell running well in the conditions to finish in 157th in 35:06 & Jack Watson also running well for 170th place (35:58) in a field of 200 athletes, & the sole senior representation of Ian Hearne running a very respectable race in 1606 place (56:53) out of the 2000+ field in the senior men’s 12km race!

With two major championships left for the squad (Inter-Counties & English Schools) in early March the squad will be hoping to finish on a high. Well done to all who ran.