It's a 5 star start for the Harriers!

The Harriers made a brilliant start to the new millennium with Five County Champions crowned from the Middle Distance Squad over the traditional County Cross Country Championship held during the opening weekend of the new year. There was some fantastic performances supporting the five individual Gold medallists with the Harriers returning a total of 10 individual medals (x4 Gold, x3 Silver & x3 Bronze) and a total of 8 Team Medals (x2 Gold, x4 Silver & x2 Bronze), which equals their best ever result from recent years.

Action from the U15 B & G race which produced two County Champions for the Harriers

The championships were hosted by Wellingborough & District AC, and the course was at times brutal, set up at the traditional Croyland park the course was set up with 4 significant climbs on each of the 2.5km loops, and with conditions still wet underfoot it was difficult to get into any sort of rhythm.

Jessica Lamb made a dream start for the Harriers in the opening 2km U11 mixed B&G race winning a Brilliant Gold medal. Taking to the front from the off she never looked troubled, and glided to an effortless win beating 16 of the 22 boys in the process. Lamb won the race by 26 seconds in 8:12 to take her first County title, ahead of fellow Harrier Peyton Almond who made it a brilliant one/two for the Harriers. Almond started steady but grew into the race and she looked strong in the latter stages finishing ahead of R&N’s Claudia Terrell in 8:46 to take a terrific Silver medal. Both girls along with Billi Robinson who ran well for 8thplace helped the girls to an excellent team Gold medal. In the corresponding boys race Zachary Scott was top finisher for the boys in 6th place (8:03), with goo support from Finlay Brooker in 7th & Liam Nuqui 22nd helping them to a fine team Bronze.

Jessica Lamb (31) leads the U11 race on route to a fine Gold Medal, with Harrier Peyton Almond (32) taking the Silver Medal

In the next races (U13 B&G) Dylan White improved on his Bronze in 2019 with a fantastic front running performance leading from the gun to win his first County title by 8 seconds to snatch the Gold. White looked in control throughout the 3km race which he finished in 13:00 ahead of Northampton AC’s Ollie Walls. Also running a fine race was club colleague, Nathan Lamb who worked hard to stay in medal contention and had to fight off a late challenge from Northampton AC’s Benjamin Alexander to claim the Bronze medal in 13:15, just a second ahead of his challenger. James Clutton ran well to finish in 15th place to help the Harriers to a fine Team Silver medal. The girls also secured a team medal, a Bronze with a gutsy run from top Scorer Magdelena Gancheve who finished in 4th place in 14:31, with good support from Ellie Separovic finishing in 15th place, and Charli Robinson in 18th place.

Gold Medal for U13 Dylan White with his first Country Title

The MD squad XC results were not confined to Northants, with the Davey siblings (Jemima U13G & Rafferty U11 B) living a few hundred metres short of the county boundary they were competing at the Cambridgeshire XC Championships at Priory Park, St Neots on the Sunday. Older sister Jemima Davey was making the step up and racing as a bottom year U13 and aiming for a hat-trick of XC county title. Davey got off to well sitting in 2nd place behind Mardon (2 years her senior) of Hunts AC & Mardon led by 20m after the opening 1.5km with Davey struggling with a painful stitch,  Davey dug in over the next 200m and started to close down Mardon and with this momentum she put in a strong kick just before the start of a 200m long downhill section to pull 10m clear. Mardon dug in to stay in contact with Davey but she pushed on and  gradually opened up a sizeable gap from Mardon to win by 20s and take a memorable 3rd title. Younger Sibling Rafferty also enjoyed a fine race in the U11 race, finishing in an impressive 6th place from 32 runners, the youngster who still has 2 more years in the age group, has been working very hard in training and it showed with tremendous form and determination to finish the 1.7k course in 7:10.

Gold Medal for U13 Jemima Davey with her third successive County Title

In the U15 Boys & Girls race over 5km, the Harriers dominated with two further County Champions confirmed, with outstanding performances from Luke Cole & Alice Bates who both ground out a huge winning margin of 37 seconds! Cole set off at pace and within the first km he had opened up a significant lead, and any doubt of a recent virus affecting his performance was soon dispelled with a brilliant display of controlled front running, winning his first County Title/ Gold in 18:19 with a significant improvement on 6th place in 2019. The Boys secured a Team Bronze With good performances from George Separovic in 12th place & Ben Brooker in 13th place, and Ellis Johnson in 14th.

Impressive Gold Medal performance from U15 Luke Cole winning his first County Title

Alice Bates come into the race as defending champion and has also been laid low with a virus over Christmas, but she soon set about the task at hand with a typical front running display. Bates had also opened up a useful gap after the first km and she continued to drive on with impressive pace securing her second successive title/Gold in style in 20:08 beating half of the male field in the process. Helping the Girls to a team Silver was Alice Bennett who was also recovering from a virus, but put in a battling display to finish in 7th place, with Josie Crick also running well for 12th place.

Defending champion U15 Alice Bates (135) with a 37 second winning margin taking the Gold Medal

In the U17 AG the Men & Women had a tough 6km distance to cover and Amelia McMurtrie won a terrific individual Silver, with a strong race to finish in 25:00 behind the winner, host club’s Lucy Watts. Freya Batkin enjoyed a fine race to secure a Bronze medal, and together with Toni Robinson wo finished in 9th place to win the second team Gold medal on the day. The Men struggled a little in the conditions but managed to win a fine team Silver with great packing from Iday Jumbe in 7th, Josh Clutton 8th & Josh Geddes in 9th who all enjoyed a fine battle with Jumbe producing another extraordinary sprint finish over the final 150m to narrowly miss finishing in 6th place ahead of R&N Matthew Everett who shared the same finishing time of 21:46. there were decent performances also from Siddarth Zumlingwala who was running as a guest so finishing unofficially in 11th place, just ahead of Ryan Raulia who finished (Oficially) in 11th place (24:12)

U17 Men & Womens Medal Winning teams from left to right, Toni Robinson, Idayi Jumbe, Freya Batkin, Josh Geddes, Amelia McMurtrie, Josh Clutton

In the U20/Senior Men’s race the Harriers put in a terrific display but were defeated for the team Gold by a very strong R&N team. Best individual performance was from medical student Josh Cara who enjoyed a fine race and no doubt benefiting from a sustained training block without any injury niggles, which seem to have hampered his progress over many years. Cara was unable to sit on the impressive pace being set by GB international athlete Josh Lay who won impressively, but he proved too strong for the chasing pack finishing the tough 10km course in 32:28. Also running fine races for the Harriers were Jack Hope who finished in a fine 5th place in 33:16, with Fynn Batkin in 6th (33:36) who finished 2nd U20 behind Lay, 4 times SM county Champion (2016-2019) Jonathan Goringe who was also recovering from a recent illness, in 8th place (34:42), Luke Myers in 14th (37:07) and Josh Cannell 17th (37:36) completing the scoring for the team. Also running for the U20/SM were Jack Watson in 24th (38:17), Tony James 29th (39:21), Andy Batkin 33rd (40:39), Bill Robinson 41st (43:35) & Bruce Whitehead 42nd (44:23).

Start of the U20/ SM race with Josh Cara (301) winning an individual Bronze and leading the team to a fine Silver Medal

For the U20/SW race, there was just Harriers in action with Elana Albery top scoring with a fine run for 5th place in 33:29 for the 7.5km course, with Millie Caffull in 12th place ((38:57).

This was a stunning start to the new year from the Harriers who have other big guns who could have returned further individual/ team medals missing through illness and Holidays, and this hopefully sets the scene for a successful 126th year in the Harriers history!

Well Done everyone who competed, regardless of a medal winning performance or not!