Thousands descend on Berry Hill Park for national cross-country relays

Alex Rieley, who produced a fine performance for Mansfield Harriers in his first senior championship race.
Alex Rieley, who produced a fine performance for Mansfield Harriers in his first senior championship race.

More than 50 athletes from Mansfield Harriers were among thousands of runners and spectators who descended on the town over the weekend for the National Cross-Country Relay Championships.

Berry Hill Park staged the event for the 30th time, hosting team events for all age groups, from U13 to senior level, and Harriers competed to a very high standard.

Both the senior men and women turned out the maximum three teams, and leading the way for the men was Alex Rieley, making his debut in a senior championship race.

Rieley, who has been with the club since he was an U11, recorded a terrific time of 15.49 minutes for the challenging 5K course to help the team into 23rd place. After further fine legs from Neil Cope, Jordan Boam and Dan Ellis, they eventually came home 51st, which was their best placing for several years.

The B team crossed the line in 83rd after good runs from Chris Monk, who was two minutes faster than last year, Chris Allcock, Andy Wetherill and Phil Shaw, while the C team came home 109th after solid efforts from Stuart Whysall, Gary Morley, Bret Podgorzec and Martin Fickling.

For the senior women, Natalie Yates, a former talented junior, made a big impact in her first run in Mansfield colours for many years. She clocked 10.47 for the 3K leg and helped the team finish a fantastic 40th alongside Kirsty Huntington and Kahli Johnson. The B team, led by the inspirational Bev Armstrong, were 86th and the C team 112th.