The weather forecast wasn’t wrong when it predicted strong winds as can be seen from the photo here at the beginning of a race. Still, it was great to see the Northern Cross Country Championships back on at Pontefract and despite the very, very windy conditions, there was some fine racing and competition throughout the day. Once again, we cannot say enough thank you’s to all of the Officials who set out the Course, officiated and marshaled on the day – a very long one for every one of them.
Blackburn Harriers athletes did themselves really proud with some very good performances throughout the age groups. U13 Sam Aspey is having a cracking start to his 2022 season. He won the Lancashire County Championships on January 8th and followed that up with a win in the Mid Lancs League a week later at Blackpool in a very closely fought race, decided over the last 50 metres. At the Northerns, the competiton was pretty fierce which saw Salford’s Evan Grime take the win (10.26) with Sam making the top ten in his first Northern Cross Country Championships with a time of 10.53 (10th) – worth noting hear that places 7 through to 14 were seperated by just 5 seconds. Liam Benninson had a solid run taking 79th spot overall in 12.20 along with Alex Rothwell taking on his first Northern Championships in 95th (12.53) as was George Holman who came across the line in 101st running 13.12 and Loucas Lancashire in 116th position (14.13).
One hundred and seventeen runners lined up for the U13 Girls Race won by Rotherham’s Grace Igoe (11.27) which had just two runners in from the Harriers – Hannah Davies and Tamzin Osborne. Hannah finished with a time of 14.27 in 94th place as Tamzin ran 15.20 in 107th. All credit to the girls for running in the conditions.
The Harriers U15 Boys finished 8th team on the day in a race which was won by Vale Royal’s Robert Price (13.56). Daniel Smith led the team home with a very strong run to take a top 20 place in the one hundred and thirty two strong field, running 15.06 in 18th. He was backed up well by Ben Stratton in 43rd spot (15.39) – finishing like a ‘sprinter’ to pull back a number of places in the run in and Oliver Gill in 82nd position, running 16.24 with Joel Duncan – another Harrier running his first ever time at the Northerns and his first outing at this competitive level – in 99th (16.56) along with George Ramsden in 123rd place (18.25).
Three Blackburn Harriers lined up for the U17 Womens race of just short of a hundred athletes – Isabel Holt, Abigail Stratton and Evie Taylor – Leven Valley’s Jess Bailey taking the Gold Medal in 17.32. All three had run at the Lancashire Championships finishing 2nd, 3rd and 12th and had won the Team Gold. Isabel had a really good race to be just two seconds outside a top ten place as she ran 18.37 in 12th with Abigail also having a strong run in 15th position running 18.48 telling the Club after the race “the Race was fast and the winds was horrendous but I am happy with my overall result” and Evie taking 62nd place running a time of 21.09. Lindsay Davies was the only runner in the Senior Women’s Race who came home in 201st place with a time of 46.21.
After achieving qualification for the English Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships by taking Silver at the Lancashire County Championships in January, David Holman had set his sights on the Northern Championships at Pontefract – and he ran really well taking 12th place in a time of 21.47. Afterwards, David spoke the Harriers about this race saying “It was very tough conditions but I ran one of my best races today. I came into the race with an ambition of top 20 and finished 12th. Many more things to come.”
The Junior Men’s Race resulted in a runaway win for Leeds athlete Josua Dickinson in a time of 28.43 with Lancaster’s Rhys Ashton in 2nd (29.08) and Middlesborough’s Max Creasy in 3rd (29.19). Dickinson had already won the Yorkshire Championships and took 3rd spot in the Scottish Inter-District Championships alongside which he has 3000m time of 8.15.95 and a 5000m time of 14.17.97. Matt Ramsden has been in very good form, winning the Northern Indoor 3000m title earlier in the month after a bout of Covid. Matt placed 7th overall in a time of 29.37 and finished strongly, commenting to the Harriers after the race that “The conditions made the race a huge challenge for everyone. I struggled on the first lap and I wasn’t as high up as I would’ve wanted. But As the race went on I eventually found my rhythm and managed to make up a few places. Well done to everyone that ran!”
The Senior Men’s Race had over five hundred runners with the Harriers having a number of athletes missing on the day which certainly made a diffetrence to the final team positions as the lads placed 12th in the team rankings – Derby’s Hugo Milner winning the race (41.43) from Sale\s Nigel Martin in 2nd (41.50) and Matlock’s Daniel Haworth in 3rd (42.17). Callum Davidson led the team home in 12th position with a fine run in a time of 43.39, telling the Club after he finished that “The North of England cross country is always a prestigious event and this year was no different. 12km of tough technical work on the grass is hard enough, let alone it actually being 13.5km! The race itself was 3 laps and with the wind racing tactics ultimately played a large part. I sat in and sheltered as much as I could on the first lap however as the field split, gaps quickly developed and I had to hold on for dear life for the last 2 laps. I worked through the field well picking off very high profile athletes the whole way and ultimately was very pleased to finish 12th. Well done to the rest of the team and it was great to see so many BBH doing the vest proud”. Just three places further back came Ben Fish with another very good and well judged run to place 15th in a time of 43.55, after which, he commented that he was “very pleased with how the race went. It was a very fast start, but I was able to work through and get in the top 20. Great run by Callum who fought hard and was just outside the top 10, great effort by Tim in 21st. I think it’s possible to have 5 of our guys in the top 20 next year if everyone is 100%“
Tim Raynes was the next athlete through the finishing line for the Club in 21st place in a time of 44.38 which gave the team at that stage, three in the first twenty one places. Tim spoke to the Club saying that he “Went into the race hoping to better my finishes from the last two Northerns. Ended up being a bit of a grind from a lap into the race, and had to battle to stop people passing me. I managed to hold it together, and then rally a bit on the last lap to take back some places. Well done to all the other lads, and particularly to Cal and Ben (who seemed to judge his race to perfection, making up a lot of ground in the middle parts of the race).” There was a strong run from Stephen Walter running is first ever Northern Cross County Championships as he placed 130th in a time of 49.58 followed home by Mat Nuttall in 246th spot (54.01), Danny Maynard (354th) in a time of 58.15, Chris Balderson (61.15) in 413th and Allan Hartley (490th) in 69.48).
Track & Field – Welsh Senior Indoor Championships
It was a return to the Track – Indoors over the weekend – for Maddie Elliott and over 1500m. Maddie clocked 4.55.48 on January 23rd at the Cardiff Met GP 2 New Year Non-Thomas Open, the week before the Welsh Championships and it turned out to be a good day for her as she koocked over five and half seconds off the time she had run the week before to clock 4.49.13. Speaking to the Harriers afterwards Maddie told us that she is “Slowly getting back to where as was before – had more in the tank too so hopefully can get a PB at BUCS indoors“
Blake Fell Race
Helen Leigh is going from strength to strength on the Fells as she demonstrated on her latest outing at the Blake Fell Race last week run over 9.5k and 429m of ascent. 132 runners started the race resulting in a win for Keswick’s Mark Lamb in 37.38.
Helen had a cracker of a race to take 33rd position overall (47.15) and 2nd Woman behind Keswick’s Holly Wootten (28th in 46.47). At the end of the race Helen told us that she took on the “Blake Fell Race, between night shifts but it was my local hill so I couldn’t say no. Feeling stronger and was 30seconds off 2nd Holly Wootten who I’ve been minutes behind in previous races so was really chuffed with that.”
Helen On the start line 2nd from Left