National cross-country relay races run in Berry Hill Park mudbath

Ella Kennedy, who ran the opening leg for Mansfield Harriers' U13 girls.
Ella Kennedy, who ran the opening leg for Mansfield Harriers' U13 girls.

Conditions were as heavy as anyone could remember in the 28-year history of the English Cross-Country Relay Championships at Berry Hill Park, Mansfield after rain turned the course into a mudbath.

However, they didn’t faze Mansfield Harriers, who locked horns with thousands of runners from across the country to turn in some excellent team performances at all age groups.

For the U13s’ races, which comprised three 2000m legs, the girls placed 47th thanks to Ella Kennedy, Isabel Westwood and Jemima Waller, while the boys were 60th after fine runs from Edward Sankey, Adam Hursthouse and William Sankey.

Jake Greenhalgh showed terrific courage in the U15 boys’ 2000m race because he was badly spiked at the start but carried on bravely to record a good time of 7.14 and help the team into 40th, alongside Jake Orr and Sam Knott.

The U15 girls fielded three teams, with the B team coming home before the A team, courtesy of Grace Manson, Caitlin Dodds and, enjoying the best run of her athletics career so far, Sophie Toyn as they placed 40th.

Two places behind came Ruby Milnes, Beth Hamilton and Olivia Hare for the A squad, while Ava Blake and Alex Foster had cracking runs for the C team, followed by Elizabeth Sinclair, as they placed 78th.

Jenson Connell unleashed a superb first leg in the U17 men’s event, recording 9.16 minutes for the 3000m course, which was one of the fastest times in the age group. Connell was supported by Sam Bentley and Harry Cocking as the team finished 36th.

The only age group that Harriers couldn’t field a full team in was the U17 ladies. However, Lauren McNeil still produced one of the fastest times over the 2500m course, coming home in 9.09, while Nancy Britton also performed well.

The U20 teams placed highly, with the men 21st, led home by Luke Duffy, who ran one of the best times of the day on the 3000m loop. He was backed by Ben Burnham and Dylan George. The U20 ladies, comprising Louise Cocking, May Roberts and Mollie Scott, placed 18th.

In the senior races, Harriers’ men’s teams finished 71st, 86th and 124th over four legs of 5,000m, while the ladies’ squads were 54th, 80th and 99th over three 300m legs. The best times were registered by Neil Cope (18.58) and Natalie Yates (11.14).