Conditions were positively ‘balmy’ at Lawson’s Fields, Blackpool yesterday – January 15th – for the first Mid Lancs cross country fixture of the New Year and the fourth overall. A complete contrast with the mud and rain that greeted the athletes, marshals and officials at the Lancashire Cross Country Championships held the week before and no doubt welcomed!
First race off at 12.00 noon was the 42 strong field of U11 Girls which saw Charlotte Smith sett off like a rocket with the front runners – Blackpool’s Pollyanna Kershaw taking the honours at the end (8.03). Charlotte battled the whole way through and finished in her highest position of the season when crossing the line in 5th place in a time of 8.46 after a real battle with Chorley’s Millie Reid towards the finish who was just one place and one second behind her in 6th (8.47).
The U13 Girls race featuring 37 runners turned into a cracking battle between half a dozen girls with Agatha Taylor for the Harriers in 2nd spot and then first as she went toe to toe with Claytons Eliena Lusty, Lancasters Anna Nicholson, Blackpool pair Aimee Harling and Kristy Leach. Approaching the finish Agatha took the lead and never looked back, increasing it as she ran into the finish the winner in 9.35 with Elien Lusty in 2nd (9.41) and Anna Nicholson 3rd (9.44). Andrew Knowles, one of her training squads Coaches was delighted with her run and told the Club afterwards that he “was very proud off Aggie today, after struggling last week at Lancs XC and underperforming. She did what all athletes should do ‘put it behind you’, and she certainly did that. During the week we discussed why things did not go well last Saturday and we set a plan for today. Aggie showed great maturity and ran a faultless race.” Hannah Davies who had been struggling with knee issues came in 15th overall running a time of 10.29 and she was backed up by Lulu Sharp in 31st spot (11.56) all of which meant the girls placed 3rd in the team category.
There was another individual win for the Harriers in the U13 Boys race after a tremendous run by Sam Aspey and Southport’s William Delamere who ran virtually together the whole way. Coming into the final 60 metres, they couldn’t be separated as both of them gave everything to be first across the winning line. In the end, Sam took it by one second (11.05) to William Delmaere’s 11.06 in 2nd, Lancaster’s Ben Brassington placing 3rd in 11.29. The team race was close to as Kendal took the win (20 points) with Chorley 2nd (24) and Blackburn Harriers in 3rd, also 24 points. Theo Robinson was the Harriers 2nd counter in 8th place after a gutsy battle (11.51), with Liam Benninson our 3rd counter in 15th place (12.39), backed up by Alex Rothwell in 18th running 13.22, George Holman 19th in a time of 13.32 and Loucas Lancashire in 28th with his time of 14.29.
Thirty six girls took part in the U15 Race won very comnfortably by Kendal’s Kate Collin in 11.55, over half a minute in front of 2nd placed Erin Frost (12.26). The Harriers had three girls running who combined to take 6th place in the team race with Imogen Robinson coming home in 22nd spot (14.30), followed by Freya Nield in her first race for a very long time after coming through a series of injuries in 32nd (16.06) and Isabelle Hartley in 36th (19.14).
Our U15 Boys took 3rd place in the team race behind Kendal in 2nd and Southport in 1st – just six points separating the the three teams. Daniel Smith led the Harriers home in 7th spot with a time of 14.40 backed up by Oliver Gill in 13th place (15.18) and multi-eventer Matthew Smith in 19th running 16.16.
The U17 Women’s race produced a first and second place for the Harriers as Isabel Holt took the win in a time of 15.04 followed by Abigail Stratton in 2nd spot running 15.31 and Keira Haxton in 8th position (17.21) being the three counters for the Club who won the team event. Next home for the Club was Molly Nicholls in 15th position running a time of 18.26 with Kiera Booth in 23rd in a time of 18.46.
Six Blackburn Harriers ran in the U17 Men’s race which saw them win the team title just as the U17 Women did. For around two thirds of the race, David Holman and Sedbergh’s Daniel Richardson were running together battling for the first place – on the long run in Richardson put a burst in which won him the race (20.30) from David who had a very good run to take 2nd place in 20.52. Just one second separated Dexta Thompson and Hayden Mercer as Dexta came across the line in 7th (22.35) with Hayden 8th in 22.36 in hot pursuit. Codie Dewhurst was the next home in 11th running 23.06 followed by Jack Paget-Fowler running 23.14 in 12th. In 16th place came Saul Sharp (23.59) and it was great to see him back running just his second race since January 2020.
In the Senior Races, there was another fine run by V50 Joanne Nelson who took 6th place overall in a time of 24.46 – just three seconds behind 5th placed U20 Anna Philips form Lancaster University. Amy Davies was our 2nd counter in 18th place running 26.37 – a run which gave her 6th place in the U20 Women’s race, followed by V45 Lindsay Davies in 71st (30.44) and V50 Helen Dawson-Smith (82nd) running 32.24.
Unusually in the Senior men’s Race there were only two runners for the Harriers – David Almond and Allan Hartley. The field – featuring two hundred and eleven runners – was won emphatically by Lancaster University’s Jacob Cann in a time of 31.46 from Kendal’s Fraser Sproul in 2nd (32.42) and Wesham’s Rob Danson in 3rd (32.58). Lancaster University also won the team race with five of their six counters in the first eight places. An impressive performance all round.
V55 David Almond finished in 71st spot overall and 2nd V55 in the race with his 39.17 whilst V45 Allan Hartley came home in 188th place running 50.18 during which time he had stopped his race to help another runner who was in distress and had to be taken to hospital.
Michael Sharp who is one the Harriers Juniro Endurance Coaches – last ran a race in September 2016 – following which he had a hip replacement. At the weekend he had his first outing at the Oundle -NY – 5k where he finished in 22nd place (57 runners taking part in the race which was won by Ketterings Jack Chennell in 15.51). Michael was pleased with this first race in over 5 years and his time of 25.33 and told the Harriers afterwards “It was my first run in over 5 years, just seeing where my hip was at it terms of pushing it a touch. Really enjoyed being out there again in a running event wearing the blue and white. Hopefully see where it takes me moving forward.“