England international Mark Johnson spearheaded many fine performances that raised hopes for a successful season when Mansfield Harriers had a record turnout for the first round of the Nottinghamshire AAA Summer League.
No fewer than 36 green-and-blue vests crossed the finishing line in a record field of 595 for the opening race of five, held at Hexgreave Hall in Farnsfield.
And pride of place went to Johnson, who came home ninth, which was an encouraging effort considering he had not competed for more than a year because of a recurring hamstring injury. He is now well on the road to recovery.
New recruit Sam Bradley continued his superb start for the club with 20th position, closely followed by Andy Wetherill in 23rd. A sprint for the line settled the next three positions as Jordan Boam (39th) outpaced Phil Shaw (40th) and Neil Cope (41st).
Next home were Jack Cooke in 72nd, Chris Monk in 81st, Garry Hodgkins in 95th, Alan Kemp in 102nd, Gary Morley in 137th, Stuart Whysall in 170th, Gary Towle in 175th, Colin Fell in 200th, Shaun Middleton in 205th, Mark Burr in 244th, Vikram Desai in 275th, Graeme Baguley in 279th, Dave Robertson in 293rd and Pete Copcutt in 296th. In the senior team categories, Harriers finished sixth and 24th of 26, while two veterans’ teams finished second and 17th from 35.
On the local race scene, several Harriers competed at the Longhorn event over varying distances around the grounds of Thoresby Hall, while three athletes ran in the Easter 10k at Wollaton Park in Nottingham.