“Welcome to cross country” goes the cry! Rain, mud and plenty of it greeted the athletes at the first Lancashire County Cross Country Championships since 2019. As expected, numbers were down, but that didn’t change the atmosphere as athletes battled though the mud and the day to win individual medals, team medals and hopefully a call up for Lancashire to compete at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships.
A massive thank you to all those who go publicly unheralded. To those volunteers who set up the course on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning in the pouring rain – to the Officials who were on duty the whole day – and to all of the Marshals who gave up their day to stand at points throughout the course, ensuring everyone went the right way and were safe.
The day produced a big crop of Medals for the Harriers with 4 Individual Golds, 4 Individual Silvers & 2 Individual Bronze. In the Team competition, the Club won 4 Team Golds, 3 Team Silvers and 1 Bronze, making a grand total of 18 Medals on the day.
First race of the day saw Jack Baranowski carry on where he left off at Leigh (Red Rose League) in October and Sefton Park (Mid Lancs League) in November where he won the U11 Boys races by quite a margin each time. Today he won the Gold in a time of 6.26 – half a minute in front of the 2nd placed Billy Kershaw from Blackpool (6.56) and Northern AC’s Timothy Perry in 3rd (7.02). Jack was joined with Marco Thompson, Alex McKinlay and Zaki Haq in 4th place for the Team competition. The U11 Girls comprising Charlotte Smith, Isabelle Pawson, Hetty Green and Alexa Hunt as the four counters, also placed 4th in the team competition with Charlotte the leading Harrier in 8th (7.50) followed by Isabelle 22nd (8.39), Hetty 24th (8.44), Alexa 35th (9.18), Jenna McKinlay 36th (10.47) and Alessia Rawcliffe 37th (11.22). Congratulations to these young girls, some of whom were making their debut at cross country in the most difficult of conditions. Thanks to Ann Osborne for the Photos in early races.
Jack Baranowski Marco Thompson
Alex McKinlay Zaki Haq
Hetty Green Alexa Hunt Jenna McKinlay
The Harriers first Individual and Team Gold Medals came in the U13 Boys Race won by Sam Aspey who opened up a gap from Northern AC’s Harry Stennett as he came round on the first lap. He never led that gap decrease and in the end won the Gold Medal in 10.45 with Harry Stennett in 2nd (10.59) and Lancaster’s Ben Brassington in 3rd (11.01). Theo Robinson had a really good race too, crossing the finishing line in 5th spot (11.18) with great backing from Matt Haxton in 11th (12.42) and Callum Singleton in 12th (12.48) to take the Team Gold Medal. Good to see so many U13 Boys out in this race for the Club – Liam Benninson placing 15th (13.05), George Camara 16th (13.14), Alex Rothwell 17th (13.19), Loucas Lancashire 25th (14.35) amnd Tom Hunt 27th (15.18).
Our U13 Girls three of our starters during the race, which left just two finishers for the Club – Tamzin Osborne finishing strongly, coming home in 14th place with a time of 14.13 and Agatha Taylor who sadly fell when leading at the top of the Saucer finished in 16th spot in 14.22.
The Harriers U15 Boys team had a good battle with Preston for the Silver Medal in the Team Race which saw Preston edge it with 45 points to Blackburn’s 50 points in Bronze Medal place. Daniel Smith earned himself a top five place with a time of 13.26 in 5th followed by Oliver Gill in 12th clocking 14.26, Joel Duncan in his first season for the Club (16th) with a time of 14.52, Matthew Smith just one place further back having worked his way through the field (17th) in 14.54, Ben Livesey (27th) in a time of 16.25 and George Ramsden (17.14) placing 30th.
Daniel Smith Oliver Gill Joel Duncan
Matthew Smith Ben Livesey George Ramsden
Our 2nd Team Gold Medal of the day came in the U15 Girls Race as Charlotte Robertshaw ran a determined race to place 5th in 16.38 and backed up Imogen Robinson in 13th (17.59), Isabela Thompson (18.10) in 15th position and Isabelle Hartley in 25th (26.09).
Charlotte Robertshaw (183) Imogen Robinson Isabella Thompson
The U17 Men’s and Women’s Races have three to count for the Team placings and both set off together in one race. Seven Harriers took part in the U17 Men’s Race which saw David Holman take the Individual Silver Medal (2nd) in a time of 18.50, the race being won by Jacob Deacon in 18.05 with Clayton’s William Walker – grandson of Blackburn Harrier legend Harry Walker in 3rd (19.05). Dexta Thompson had a strong race to finish 2nd counter in 10th place running 20.32 followed by our 3rd counter – Jack Paget-Fowler in 12th spot (20.53). Hayden Mercer was one place behind in 13th running 20.59 followed home by Saul Sharp in his first race in a year (17th) with a time of 22.07, Codie Dewhurst (19th) in 22.59 and Umair Rafiq placing 22nd (24.45).
It was Individual Silver and Bronze plus Team Gold for the U17 Women in a keenly fought contest with Lancaster – the Harriers finishing with 17 points to take the Team title and Lancaster 19 points. Clayton’s Eve Hartlery won the race in 21.52 as the Harriers Isabel Holt took 2nd in 22.32 and Abigail Stratton took 3rd in 22.44. Evie Taylor in her first year at the Club was the third counter running 24.51 in 12th spot. In 13th spot Hollie Cubbon ran well with her time of 24.57 followed by Keira Haxton who suffered during the race with cramp coming home in 17th (25.43).
Evie Taylor (252)
The Senior Women’s Race produced a Silver Team Medal for the Club who were led home by Joanne Nelson in 8th place (28.08) which also won her the V50 Gold Medal. Victoria Mousley in only her second race since March 2020 had a good run to place 11th in 28.58, also winning Silver in the V40 category, with Ellen Sagar-Hesketh right behind in 12th (29.06) and Maddie Elliott who had delayed her return to University by a day, was our fourth counter in 15th spot running 30.04. Next home for the Club came U20 Eleesha Charnley in 24th place (31.22) followed by Rebecca Shorrock – just recently having her second baby who was their at the finish as she came home in 30th spot (34.09), V50 Helen Dawson-Smith in 43rd (37.29) and Victoria McKinlay in 53rd (45.33). In the Vets Team category Joanne Nelson, Victoria Mousley and Helen Dawson-Smith combined to win the Team Silver behind Accrington Road Runners.
L- R Rebecca Shorrock – Joanne Nelson – Victoria Mousley – Ellen Sagar-Hesketh – Eleesha Charnely – Maddie Elliott
The Harriers fourth Team Gold Medal came in the Senior Men’s Race in a comprehensive manner, winning with 59 points to Rossendale’s 189 in 2nd and Liverpool P&S in 3rd (221). Coming off the Saucer on the first lap it was nip and tuck between Callum Davidson and Lancaster’s U20 Rhys Ashton and it stayed that way the whole way round until the last lap when Ashton opened up a gap to take the win (33.22) from Callum in 2nd (33.33). There was a hell of battle for third place with Salford’s Gary Priestley and the Harriers Ben Fish striding out neck and neck – it was only on the turn in to the finishing straight that Ben managed to go ahead and take the third spot in 33.48 with Gary in 4th (33.53). Tim Raynes made in three in the top five for the Club as he finished in 34.18 . Rob Warner took 7th in 34.52 after a battle with with Salford’s Tom Cornthwaite followed by the Harriers 5th counter Matt Nuttall in 19th (37.49) – a run which earned him a Gold Medal for winning the V50 category to add to his Team Gold. Worth noting here that Matt finished the 2021 season ranked 7th Nationally for 10k with 33.48 clocked at the Ribble Valley 10k on December 27th. Our 6th counter for the Team Gold was Stephen Walter, in his first season with the Harriers, which was great to see (23rd) in 38.09. U20 Ben Makin was the next across the finishing line for the Harriers in 27th place running 38.46 and followed in by Marc Hartley in 34th place (39.51), V45 Chris Davies in only his second race since July 2021 In 36th 40.02), V55 Chris Balderson in 7th (46.35) and V45 Allan Hartley (106th) in a time of 53.22. In the Vets Team results, the Harrierts took 2nd place and Silver with Matt Nuttall, Chris Davies, Chris Balderson & Allan Hartley the counters.