The first day of League cross country running finally arrived in the format that we know before Covid made competiton like this impossible to put on. Leigh Sports Village was the scene and although the rain had thundered down over preceding days, the day itself proved to be one of enjoyment and delight to be back. The Harriers made a winning return with Individual wins in the Senior Men and U11 Boys, Individual Veteran wins in the Women’s V45, Men’s, V50, V55 and V65, Team wins in the Senior Men and Men’s Vet team, 2nd team in U13B, U15B and Senior Women, 3rd team in U13 and U15 Girls.
It was a great start for some new members of the Club, making their debuts in the blue and white over cross country and none more so than the runs by Lawrence Fairclough and Joe Bridge for the Senior Men’s Team. Lawrence led the Harriers home to a team victory with an emphatic win in a time of 33.06 and told the Harriers afterwards that he was “Really happy with today’s result.My first ever cross country Race and also first official race for Blackburn Harriers. Everyone ran and raced well.” Joe came 2nd in the race with a time of 34.06 to make it a 1/2 for the Club commenting after the race that “It’s been a great few weeks training down at the club and getting to know the lads. I really enjoyed the race and felt surprisingly strong despite a tough battle with Tom Blaney throughout who ran very well. Overall a great result for the team dominating in blue and white and I’m sure that will be a theme throughout the season!“
Just six seconds behind Joe and making it 3 out of the first four places was Tom Blaney in 4th spot overall clocking 34.12, followed by V50 Matt Nuttall in 11th place (35.36), U20 Sam Hodkinson in 12th running a time of 35.53 and Ryan Bradshaw crossing the finishing line in 15th spot (36.40), all of which meant that the six counters for the Harriers were all home inside the first 15 places in a race featuring 147 runners. Next home was V55 David Almond in 18th with a time of 37.12 with Danny Maynard in 38th (39.54), John Chaplin V65 in 51st spot (41.14), V55 Gary Pearse (43.11) in 75th, John Cookson V45 in 81st running 43.50, V55 Mark Wilkin (45.38) in 97th, V45 Allan Hartley running 45.44 (98th), Paul Smith V50 coming home in 106th position with a time of 46.50 and V45 Danny Teare in 115th in a time of 48.03. The team took the win with 45 points from Bury in 2nd place (199) and Leigh in 3rd (208) – added to which were three age category wins from Matt Nuttall (V50), David Almond (V55) and John Chaplin (V65).
L-R Mark Wilkin – Matt Nuttall – Allan Hartley – Paul Smith – David Almond – John Cookson – Tom Blaney – Ryan Bradshaw – John Chaplin – Joe Bridge – Gary Pearse – Lawrence Fairclough – Sam Hodkinson – Danny Teare
A pretty good start to the League for the Senior Women as they finished 2nd team overall behind Bury in a field of 122 runners covering 14 different Clubs. Joanne Nelson led the team with a great 3rd place (20.29) also taking the 1st V45 place – commenting afterwards that it was “A great start to the Red Rose Cross Country season for the Harriers ladie’s team with 9 women taking part. What looked like a very wet and soggy day ahead ended up being a dry and fine race. Great runs by everyone who took part, but special mention to Rachael in her first cross country race, ever and for Amy in her first race in the senior ladie’s race. Well done everyone! Looking forward to the next one!“
Katie Buckingham backed Joanne up with an impressive 7th placed finish in 21.08 followed by Amy Davies with a good performance in 12th (21.48) her first race over the senior distance, a run which also saw her take 2nd spot in the U20 Women’s results. Rachael Ashcroft was making her debut for the Harriers over the cross country and had a very good run to come home in 27th spot running a time of 23.25 followed by V45 Lindsay Davies in 50th place (25.16). V45 Jenny McAndrew was making her debut for the Harriers, but not the first time she has run cross country, finishing 64th with a time of 26.32 with V55 Jan Buckingham in 73rd (27.23) and just two seconds further back in 74th – Helen Dawson-Smith (27.25). The final debutant of the day for the Harriers in cross contry was Vicky McKinlay who placed 99th in a time of 31.24.
A flying start for another new member in his first race for the Harriers in cross country came from Jack Baranowski in the U11 Boys race which he won by a big margin of 20 seconds (7.31) from Blackpool’s Billy Kershaw in 2nd (7.51) and Bolton’s Derain Leo Moreton in 3rd (7.57) – a very impressive debut by this young lad. Also making his debut for the Club at cross country was Alex McKinlay who ran 10.16 in 47th place.
Sixty two U11 Girls covering nine Clubs made for a good race with the Harriers coming home in 6th place represented by Charlotte Smith taking 19th spot in 9.38 and supported by new member Emma Bargh in her first race placing 30th with a time of 10.04 and Charlotte Wood, also running her first race for the Club running a time of 10.21 in 34th position. Our U13 Boys missed the team win by a single point as Oliver Brown led the Harriers in with a 2nd place clocking 9.29 behind Leigh’s Thomas Amaral. Theo Robinson made it two in the first four places for the Club as he came home in 4th spot with a time of 9.34, with Callum Singleton in 9th place overall out fo the 40 strong field (10.26). Liam Benninson was next to finish in 13th place (10.50) followed by Loucas Lancashire in in 27th with a time 11.43.
It was a 3rd place for the U13 Girls out of the 49 runners and seven Clubs with our team of Agatha Taylor, Hannah Davies and Tamzin Osborne. Agatha was first home for the Club in 4th spot in a time of 10.26 which was her first ever cross country race. Next came Hannah in 12th place with a time of 11.02 and backed by up Tamzin in 21st spot running 11.43.
The U15 Boys Race featured just 29 runners and four Clubs but was a tight run affair and even with four runners home in the first ten places, the Harriers came 2nd behind Chorley with 15 points who took the team win from the Harriers(16 points). With first and second place being separated by just one second (12.08 and 12.09), Daniel Smith was first across the finishing line for the Club in a time of 12.31, backed up by Oliver Gill in 4th spot with his time of 12.42, Matthew Smith in 9th place (13.17) and Ben Livesey in 10th with a time of 10.48. Our U13 Girls team consisting of Imogen Robinson, Ellie Wilding and Isabelle Hartley were 3rd team – Imogen placing 16th in 16.40, Ellie 17th in 16.42 and Isabelle in 24th (19.55). Jack Paget-Fowler was first Harrier home in the U17 Men’s race in a time of 19.05 (4th) followed by Codie Dewhurst in 6th (19.40).
Having just been part of Blackburn Harriers U13 Boys team that won both the North West Road Relays and Northern Road Relay Championships recently – well done to U13 Sam Aspey who was selected for the London Mini-Marathon London North West Team last weekend run over a route 2.6k in length. Teams from nine regions of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales with teams also entered from the thirty three boroughs of London made up the competing fields of young athletes.
On the same weekend, huge congratulations to V45 Matt Taylor who is a 2nd claim member for the Harriers and smashed his marathon personal best clocking 3hr 16.51 – over three quarters of an hour faster than his previous best time.
At the Fleetwod Tri held recently father and son Paul and Matthew Smith were both involved. U15 Matthew and bottom of age for this event finished 4th overall and 3rd male with a combined time of 32.26 comprisong 5.03 minutes for his 300m swim, 16.23 minutes for his 8k bike ride and 9.09 minutes for his run over 2.4k which was the fastest fo the day.
Paul was part of a com petition featuring one hundred and seventy two triathletes, finishing 17th overall with a combined time of 1hr 08.42. Pauls swim of 400m took 6.45 minutes followed by a 20k bike ride (36.24 minutes) and a 5k run finished in 23.07 minutes.