A string of superb performances from Mansfield Harriers was spearheaded by Olivia Barrett at the second of the Nottinghamshire Cross-Country Mini-League events at King George V Park in the town.
Harriers fielded their highest number of athletes (19) for several years, giving a clear indication of their improving fortunes across all age groups. And Barrett led the way with a stunning display in the U13 girls’ race, defying her inexperience and storming through the field to finish an impressive third.
Also finishing third was Beth Hamilton in the U11 girls’ event, in which Harriers had a seven-strong team. Beth was closing all the time on the front two in the 1700m race.
Not far behind was the improving Alex Foster, who came seventh, just ahead of Mia Beardall, who was an amazing ninth on her first run for the club. Another cross-country debutant, Tammy Smith, ran a well-judged race to move through the field on the second lap and finish 11th, while two others making their first appearances for Harriers, Jemina Waller (25th) and Zoe Spencer (26th), also showed plenty of promise. The team was completed by the ever-reliable Emma Greasby, who crossed the line in 36th place.
For the U15 girls, Harriers’ trio showed terrific team spirit, with Jess Lake running a controlled race to finish 17th, overtaking teammate Holly May Spencer (18th) in a sprint finish, with Abi Kemp coming home 26th.
The U11 boys also produced a fine performance, led home by the gutsy Matthew Young in seventh, ahead of Jake Orr in 12th, Alistair Homewood in 16th and another debutant, Daniel Ulik, in 34th. And a four-strong U15 boys’ team heaped more credit on the green-and-blue vests as the much-improved Sam Bentley finished 14th, Tom Beardall 18th, even though he’d played football that morning, Joel Whittaker-Naylor 24th and Jakub Ulik 25th.
Harriers have also been busy on the roads, most notably the evergreen Maddy Collinge, who was first home for the club in the Tissington Trail Half-Marathon in Derbyshire, clocking a time of one hour, 46.03 minutes to win the over-55 age category.
She was followed home by Diane Stewart in 1.55.26, while both Jemma Arbon (1.58.00) and Sarah Bradbury (1.59.37) ran new best times and cracked the two-hour barrier for the first time. Jo Walker also ran a new best time of 2.09.44, followed by Lindsey Stevenson in 2.19.14, Caroline Rye in 2.19.19 and then two more personal bests from Latia Renshaw and Sally Walker, who crossed the line in 2.31.16.
Harriers’ latest ultra runner, Matt Bradbury, put in another solid race in the Yorkshire Marathon at York on Sunday to clock 3.48.27. At the Derby Half-Marathon, Craig Linacre recorded 1.28.39 and Garry Hodgkins 1.36.54, while five athletes took part in the Goose Fair Gallop 10k at Kimberley, with Collinge again taking the spoils in the over-55 category, clocking 52.45.