As winter beckons cross country becomes the main focus for Mansfield Harriers and last weekend saw the first of four events in the North Midlands Cross Country League at Markeaton Park, Derby.
The league caters for all age groups from U11 to senior and can see large numbers of athletes from several counties compete and is probably the strongest league competition within the area.
On the day Mansfield Harrier’s had a good number of athletes compete and had great success across the age groups with some fine individual performances for early season.
Leading the way for the club was the U17 athletes, who performed superbly on the day.
In the U17 ladies race Bethany Williams ran a great tactical race staying close to the leaders throughout only to lose by the narrowest of margins in a thrilling sprint finish to come second.
May Roberts slowly recovering from illness ran at the front for most of the race until the last quarter and showed great determination to hang in to finish fifth.
In the U17 men’s race Cameron Walker had probably his best race ever on grass running strongly throughout to finish third and he was supported by Matt Buchan who put in a strong performance to finish fifth.
In the senior men’s race Mansfield’s powerful master’s team put in a strong team performance on the day.
Lead by England international and Mansfield 10k winner Mark Johnson, who ran a controlled race to finish ninth.
And, supported by Alan Smith in 26th and Paul Butcher in 39th, they showed they will be the team to beat this winter.
Next in was U20 Alex Rieley who in his debut senior performance ran a tactically sound race to finish 40th closely followed by Andy Wetherill in 42nd, Phil Shaw 92nd.
Next in was Nigel Watkin in 132nd a great run after recently completing the Loch Ness Marathon, followed by Matt Storer in his first race for the club in 187th, Jon Hardy 216th and Trevor Hiscox 236th.
The club had five ladies on the start line and first back for the club was team manager Bev Armstrong in 44th position followed by evergreen Maddy Collinge in 86th, another recent marathon runner Jackie Duers in 104th, Amanda Shaw 118th and Denise Winfield 124th.
In the under 13 age group the club had three athletes making league debuts in what was very high standard races. In the girls race Courtney Spencer put in a brave performance to finish 10th after a bad fall very early on in the race and Paige Vick had her best cross country race to date to finish a great 16th. In the boys race in his first race for the club Curtis Moss showed huge potential for the future in finishing 29th.
Away from the grass several athletes have competed recently in various road races. At the Tissington half marathon Sue Pepperday ran a huge PB of 1.47.24, Maddy Collinge 1.47.28, Diane Stewart a PB of 1.56.32 and Sarah Bradbury a new best of 2.06.16. Tina Copcutt completed the Goose Fair gallop 10k in 64.34, Diane Stewart ran in the Scarborough 10k recording 55.05 20 seconds faster than last year.
In the Great Eastern Half marathon Martin Fickling went around in 1.36.54 and in the Derby half marathon one of the clubs talented juniors Jordan Boam finished in a shade over 1 hour 22 a new best time.
Finally the clubs juniors competed at the second on the Nottinghamshire Sportshall league on Sunday afternoon and as we go to press results have not been published.
The club however had 18 juniors compete which is a fantastic turnout having struggled to get a team out for this league in previous years. U13 Tania Smith was presented with the female athlete of the match for the first match after a string of superb performances.