Outstanding cross-country debut by nine-year-old star in the making

Nine-year-old Isabel Westwood in action for Mansfield Harriers at Shipley Park in Heanor.
Nine-year-old Isabel Westwood in action for Mansfield Harriers at Shipley Park in Heanor.

An outstanding debut by nine-year-old Isabel Westwood was the highlight of Mansfield Harriers’ return to cross-country league action over the weekend.

Harriers fielded a strong squad in the third of four races in the North Midlands League at Shipley Park in Heanor, where a challenging course forced the runners to tackle mud, hills, standing water and lots more besides.

But Westwood stole the show by finishing 13th in the U11 girls’ race, even though she gave some of her rivals up to 18 months in age. She looked strong throughout and only slipped out of the top ten on the last hill to the finishing line.

Club coach Richard Massey said: “It was a phenomenal run and one that shows she has a glittering career ahead of her.”

Massey was also delighted by the superb performances of the Scott twins in the U17 ladies’ race. This time Mollie came out on top to claim a magnificent second place, with Amber close behind in fourth.

Dylan George found the conditions to his liking in the U17 men’s race, clawing his way round the strength-sapping course to earn himself a top-ten placing

in eighth. And Joel Whittaker-Naylor also put on a good show in the U15 boys’ race to finish 33rd.

In the senior ladies’ race, Bev Armstrong was another who enjoyed the course, bagging her best placing of the winter to come home in 46th, while Maddy Collinge was 95th and Tina Copcutt 115th.

First Harrier home in the senior men’s event was Gary Morley, who ran a controlled race to work through the field and come home 84th. Andy Wetherill was also in the process of a fine run until a fall not only covered him in mud but also lost him momentum. To his credit, he still managed a top-100 placing in 92nd.

Nigel Watkins continued to show that age is no barrier, finishing 121st, which was some effort for a 60-year-old, while Adam Fairfield showed terrific fortitude to place 146th on his debut for the club and in his first cross-country race. Tim Raynor had a solid run for 184th and, on his second run of the day, Stuart Whysall displayed fine resolve for 209th.

Elsewhere, Jonny Lowe avoided the mud and travelled to Sheffield to race indoor over 600m at the Northern Athletics Open Meeting, where he finished third in his heat in a time of one minute, 37.71 seconds. This was one of the fastest times in the UK this year for his age group. Racing over 60m, U15 Ben Madeley won his heat in a time of 8.11 seconds.

At the Edwinstowe 10K, Pete Copcutt produced a fantastic run to record 50.24 minutes, which comfortably beat his previous best time. Copcutt will now be focusing on breaking the 50-minute barrier in the next few months. Showing no adverse impact from their cross-country efforts the day before, Tina Copcutt recorded a time of 61.51 minutes, while fellow Harrier Michelle Baxter clocked 62.55.