Impressive medal haul for Harriers at NAA County Championships

There were some fantastic performances at the opening 2024 fixture for the Harriers, the Northants Athletics Association County Championships, with two county champions crowned in the Senior Women’s, and Senior Men’s race, with many more minor team and individual medals taking the tally to 8 in total. There was also a healthy total of 14 athletes selected to represent the NAA County at the Inter counties meeting in March.


NAA County XC Championships - Start of the U15B/ U15G & U17W race


The course was set out in the grounds of a very wet Delepre Park and the surrounding Golf Course in Northampton, and was a true XC test with standing water in places and ground which quickly cut up resembling a mud bath in places, so the cross country purists enjoyed an excellent competition when some neighbouring Counties (Cambs) cancelled their championships due to the recent wet weather.


One of the standout performance on the day saw Harriers U13 Josh Spavins, running as a guest due to Cambridgeshire cancelling championships, totally dominate the U13 Boys race from start to finish, closely follow by fellow Harrier Rafferty Davey, also running as a guest, who finished in 2nd place, sadly with no medals to show for their efforts.


Joshua Spavins (583) impressive winner of the U13B race, closely followed by 2nd place finisher Rafferty Davey (573)


Spavins set about business from the gun surging to the front and taking charge of the race and setting a ferrous pace, with training partner Davey the only other athlete in tow. With two small loops and 3.5km to cover, by the opening lap Spavins had carved out a 50m lead, with Davey in hot pursuit. This was further extended on the 2nd lap with a superb display of front running form the bottom year athlete to win the race by almost 100m in 13:12 from Davey (13:30) for a magnificent one two. The actual NAA championship was won by third place finisher, Northampton AC Oliver Groves in 13:42.


The U13 Girls race was also over 3.5k distance and there were some terrific performances from the Harriers with Elsie Bennett securing a fine individual Silver. Bennett found the conditions tough and was just unable to stay with eventual winner R&N’s Bella Lamb, despite a valiant effort to close the gap in the closing stages, completing the race in 14:10, ten seconds shy of Lamb. Another Cambs guest runner from the Harriers, Clara Booth, also enjoyed a fine race finishing in 3rd place (14:19) with a strong run, perhaps paying for a fast start when she led the race on the opening lap. Sabrina Lawton won a Bronze individual medal with a strong run finishing behind Booth but third Northants athlete in 15:00 to win her first Count Vest. Harriers picked up a Silver team medal despite just two scorers.


Fine individual & Team Silver for U13 Elsie Bennett


In the combined SW /U20W race Alice Bates secured a superb victory as an U20 and winning the race outright to claim the impressive NAA SW trophy. Bates who has just managed to string together some sessions following a frustrating first term at University with niggles and a string of viruses holding her back, and she will hope she has turned the corner and can look forward to the remainder of the XC season, and potentially some indoor races. Bates dominated the race from the start, and cruised to an unchallenged victory over the tough 6k course in 22:00 to take her first outright NAA woman's XC title. The U17M race over the same distance saw a splendid effort from Dylan Ransom, the only Harriers competing, remaining in contention throughout Ransom finished in a fine 5th place in 20:05 to secure his NAA County vest.


Alice Bates with an outright victory in the SW/ U20 race


In the U15AG the Harriers had better representation with the boys winning a fine Silver team medal, with George Sharp heading the way over the 4km course with a good race to finish in 7th place in 16:39 and grab the final automatic qualification place for the County team. Zacahry Scott finished in 9th in 16:53, with Harlee Hooker in 10th in 17:32 the final scorer. Iona Ellwood also secured selecton for the County Team with a fine run over the same 4k course to finish in 18:02. The U17W race also over 4k saw Maggie Gancheva retire from the race after turning an ankle in the tricky uphill section, but Charlotte Jackson finished in 5th place (21:22) to grab her first County vest. Both Gancheva & Lara Turner, who was not fit to race, were also be selected for the County team.   


In the final race of the day, the senior Men/ U20 & Masters, saw some fine performances from the Harriers with a superb win for Fynn Batkin in the SM race. Batkin finished second overall behind the winner, R&N’s U20 Finley Ward, with a strong run which saw him untroubled to finish in 31:43 over the 9.3k course. There was a fine battle between the Harriers U20 contingent, with Lucas Mansell managing to pull away on the final lap to secure a fine individual Bronze in 32:22, with Geddes finishing in 4th in 33:22, with both securing NAA County Team selection. Joe Young ran well to finish in 6th place in the SM race (34:00) to claim a County vest, with Josh Cannell in 8th place (37:04)  likely to claim the final position in the County Team. Ellis  Johnson was the final U20 finisher in 13th place (39:21) also scoring for the combined mens team which won a superb team Silver medal. Tony James ran a strong race to finish 5th M50 in 39:26.      


Fynn Batkin winner of the Senior Mens race


Lucas Mansell with a fine Bronze individual medal in the U20's race


Well done to everyone who competed on a very tough XC course.