Treble delight for Harriers

Saturday 14th January proved to be a busy and very productive day for the Harriers Middle Distance Squad, with 18 athletes from the squad qualifying to the next round to represent their County in the Anglian Trophy meeting, and for three of the qualifiers (Josh Coles, Liam Kirk & Matt Stewart) not content with this ran a further race within hours of finishing the County Schools to compete in the last round of the North Midlands League and proceeded to win the individual and team U17 Championship! Meanwhile, in a far away country, another Harrier was excelling on the national stage.

The County Schools held at the customary venue of Abington Park provided many of the Harriers representing North Northants district the opportunity to qualify for the Anglian Trophy being held at the Royal Hospital School in Ipswich on 4th February. First off were the Minor Girls with 6 Harriers competing. Danielle Gaskell ran a excellent race to finish 5th overall, and the first of the Harriers home, followed by Tabatha Walford who just pipped fellow Harrier Izzy Cara to 6th Position, with Izzy in 7th, Rebecca Hughes in 11th completing the 4 Harriers who qualified. Emily Manson and Freya Marlow were also competing and finished in 38th & 46th respectively. The race was won in fine style by Alison Curtis of Corby AC. North Northants were also the winners of the team competition.

In the Minor Boys race, Travis Bowley finished in a creditable 23rd position.

The Junior Girls race was eventful with the early and comfortable leader, Harrier Maisie Green suddenly struggling on the second lap and having to stop to recover and losing her lead in the process. Maisie managed to battle on over the last 600m to qualify in 10th position, which was some consolation. Running well for the Harriers and also qualifying was the steadily improving Gemma Vaughan who finished in an excellent 4th. Hannah Winstone finished in 20th, and Beth Gordon in 22nd; the race was won by Georgina Bowen from South Northants.

The Inter Girls race proved to be the Highlight for the Harriers, with Kayli Walford running an excellent race to win and secure a gold medal, with Fran Ashworth enjoying a far better race than the County Championships the week earlier supporting well to take 2nd and the silver medal. Lauren Mehmet joined Kayli and Fran in qualifying by running a fine race to finish in 9th, with Jess Gordon hopefully taking the final qualifying position in 16th. Sarina Toledo also ran well to finish in 20th position, the strong performances from the Harriers helping North Northants to take the team title. The sole KTH representative for the Senior Girls, Imogen Stokes, ran well to qualify in 11th Position.

The Junior Boys race secured the second Harriers gold on the day with Jack Hope taking the title with a fine display of front running. Also running excellent races were Ethan Mehmet in 5th, Gabrial Smith in 12th, and Ben Tierney in 14th all securing qualification.

Also running for the Junior Boys race but in the different county of Warwickshire was Josh Cara, who made an instant impact in his new adopted County by winning easily to take the Gold Medal, the third of the day for KTH.

The Inter boys race had two of the U17's who were running easily just to qualify and conserve energy for their second race later in the day, but this was quickly forgotten in the heat of the battle with Josh Coles taking the Silver Medal behind Luke Greer, and Liam Kirk finishing in a fine 5th position, to both qualify easily. Matt Stewart was the sole Harrier in the Senior Boys race, and similarly as the 3rd member of the U17 team running later in the day he enjoyed a controlled race to finish in 8th position and qualify.

Josh, Liam & Matt then quickly travelled the short distance to Nottingham's Wollaton Park to contest the final round of the U17 North Midlands XC League, with a short lead in both the individual (Josh Coles) and team U17 Championship, they needed to ensure a good finish to take the title. So it was when Josh finished an excellent 3rd with 20.12 for the 6km course behind Burton's Alex Benfield, and Derby's Terah Hooley, with excellent support from Matt in 11th (21.00), and Liam in 12th (21.04). The U17 Men ensured they secured the team title from Derby and Notts AC in fine style, with Josh Coles also securing the individual U17 men's title jointly with Burton's Alex Benfield, which was a fantastic effort from them all, and shows the strength and determination of the squad. Sian Edwards also secured the third position trophy for the senior women, despite only competing in two of the four rounds. It was good to see Andrew Clawson flying the flag for the Kettering senior men as he completed the 10K+ course in 46:04 for 129th place.

Last, but certainly not least, Sian Edwards confirmed her continuing return to top form with a superb 8th place in the latest UKA Cross Challenge race, held in Cardiff, Wales (OK, not really a far away country!). It's great to see Siam mixing it with the best in the country once again.

Well done to all the Harriers, who enjoy a weekend off from racing before the Midland Counties on 28th January.