Mansfield Harriers open cross-country season with a bang

HAPPY HARRIERS -- members of the Mansfield Harriers team who competed at Retford.
HAPPY HARRIERS -- members of the Mansfield Harriers team who competed at Retford.

The new cross-country season opened with a bang for Mansfield Harriers as their U11 girls swept to success in the first Nottinghamshire Mini-League at King’s Park, Retford.

In previous years at these events, Harriers have struggled for numbers. But on this occasion, they fielded as many as ten young athletes, and while all ran well, pride of place went to the quintet of Beth Hamilton, Grace Manson, Alex Foster, Ava Blake and Emma Greasby.

Hamilton finished third, Manson fourth and Foster fifth in a superb performance that steered them to the team prize. They were backed up by Blake, who came home 19th, and Greasby, who finished 34th in a field of 40 starters, proving that the U11 girls’ department has great strength in depth for the winter ahead.

Harriers also paraded an U11 boys’ team and although the final team positions have not been released, their terrific efforts suggest they would have made the top three comfortably. Jake Orr led the team home with a fantastic seventh place, closely followed by Matthew Young in ninth, Alistair Holmewood in 15th and Ellis Blake in 21st.

The tenth Harrier to compete at the Retford event was Sam Bentley, racing in the U15 boys’ category. The diminutive Bentley ran a superbly judged race, on the back of a big training session the previous day, and came home 14th.

Elsewhere, veteran Jonny Lowe covered himself in glory at the National Masters Championships, which were held at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. It might have been one of the last track events of the season but for Lowe, it was only his second for more than 30 years, having made his comeback earlier in the season. So to finish eighth in the over-50s’ race was some effort. He also clocked a time that was six seconds faster than his previous best and bodes well for a successful summer of running next year.

Meanwhile three Harriers also competed on Sunday at the Plonton Plod, a trail race on the Lincolnshire/Leicestershire border that featured more than 200 metres of climb and comprised three distances of 12 miles, 17 miles and 27 miles. Maddy Collinge recorded a time of three hours, 21 minutes in the 17-mile event, while Jackie Duers clocked three hours, 23 minutes over the same distance. Teammate Diane Stewart ran the 12-mile event, crossing the line in two hours, 24 minutes.