‘Pocket rocket’ veteran Wetherill confirms legend status

Veteran Andy Wetherill, who bounced back from illness in style for Mansfield Harriers.
Veteran Andy Wetherill, who bounced back from illness in style for Mansfield Harriers.

‘Pocket rocket’ veteran Andy Wetherill bounced back from illness in style to cement his reputation at Mansfield Harriers as something of a legend.

Wetherill had to miss his first Nottinghamshire County Cross-Country Championships for fully 48 years because he was feeling so under the weather.

But just a week later, the 60-year-old made it to the North Midlands cross-country fixture at Wollaton Park in Nottingham and proved that he can still compete at an outstanding level for his age.

In a huge field, Wetherill was placed 163rd on the day in a time of 45.28 minutes, which rewarded him with first place overall in the entire series of races in the masters over-55s’ category.

Making it a series double for the Mansfield club was Nigel Watkins in the masters over-60s’ category. Watkins has been to the fore of the age group all series, and another superb run, finishing 142nd in 44.25 minutes, confirmed his league win.

First man home on the day was Steve Capewell in 81st place with a time of 41.36 followed by Martin Fickling, who was 109th in 43.02, Adam Fairfield, who was 141st in 44.22, Jack Cooke, who was 169th in 45.41, Tim Raynor, who was 210th in 48.49, Graeme Baguley, who was 251st in 51.30, Spencer Goodall, who was 263rd in 52.05, Mark Burr, who was 280th in 54.06 and Gary Towle, who was 303rd in 62.41. The masters men’s team put in a fantastic overall team performance, finishing third.

In the U17 ladies’ race, the consistent Scott twins continued to produce terrific performances, with Amber first to cross the line in second spot and Mollie close behind in fifth position. Joel Whittaker-Naylor ran in the U15 boys’ event, recording 41st position.

Six Mansfield ladies also competed, with the first back being Kahli Johnson in 44th after clocking a time of 26.15. She was closely followed by Bev Armstrong in 62nd with 27.09. Sarah Bradbury, who enjoyed had a storming run, coming home 98th in 30.03, Karen Kowalski, who was 110th in 31.02, Angela Purdue, who was 111th in 31.23, and Maddy Collinge, who was 120th in 32.01.

Collinge and Esther Sinclair also travelled to Peterborough to race the Folksworth 15, a popular pre-marathon prep event that included three big hills. In driving wind and snow, Sinclair posted a brilliant two hours, 25 minutes, but Collinge failed to finish for the first time in her 40-year running career, pulling out at eight miles because of a back injury.