Midland Counties XC Championships Report

This was the scene that greeted the Middle distance squad who braved very harsh conditions to compete in the Midland Counties Championships at Stafford Common on Sat 26th Jan. Overnight snow and sub-zero temperatures had ensured that conditions were extreme, with 10cm of snow in places with wet ground below the snow the course was very tough on the legs and traction even with 15mm spikes at a premium.

The harries squad of 18 turned out in force and there were some excellent individual performances, pride of place went to U13 Girl Tabatha Walford who is enjoying a superb XC season finishing in a tremendous 6th position out of the 128 competitors with a typically gutsy and determined run despite missing a week’s training with a virus, also running strong races were Rebecca Hughes 45th and Sophie Moss in 50th. The U15 boys who had hopes of an individual and team medal were cruelly denied both, with Edward Cannell out of the race with a broken foot, and Josh Cara a late withdrawal due to an Achilles strain, however Jack Hope still produced an excellent individual effort to finish in 12th position with a hard fought race, supported with Ethan Mehmet in 47th, and Matthew Brookes in 59th .

More disappointment awaited the U17 Women’s two full teams when they were again denied an almost certain team medal when Kayli Walford unfortunately had to withdraw due to a sprained ankle sustained during the race, top scorer was rapidly improving Claudia Kelsall tasting a major championship for the first time, who ran superbly to finish in 12th position despite falling in the finishing straight! with Abigail Coleman running strongly over the tough 4.5km course to finish in a fine 17th position, and third scorer Jess Gordon still bravely battling on to finish in 26th despite having to stop on no less than 3 occasions during the race after turning her ankle. Lauren Mehmet and Fran Ashworth also ran well for 30 & 31st position, with the team eventually coming home in 4th place.

The U15 girls also suffered a withdrawal due to the conditions (Priscilla Wilson), but Gemma Vaughan top scoring in 35th position ran a good solid race, closely followed by Beth Gordon with a fine run in 38th, and Claudia Nevett still finding her feet in XC finishing in very respectable 54th.

Last race of the day with Harriers interest was U17 Men, with Liam Kirk following up on his fine county championship winning run with a strong run to finish in an excellent 21st position defeating former club colleague Josh Coles for the first time.

Most athletes will not face a sterner test in a Cross Country race, so well done to all who participated….Respect!

Shane Smith XC Team Manager.