Blackburn Harriers Jess Warner-Judd was selected as captain of the Senior Women’s Team that headed out to Italy at the weekend – December 11th – with high hopes of getting on the Podium at the European Cross Country Championships. Jess led from the front for the British team, coming home in 8th place overall with a time of 27.27 on a course which she described as particulary tough. Great back up from the other members of the team with Abbie Donnelly (Lincoln Wellington) in 9th place and just one second behind Jess, Poppy Tank (Plymouth) 13th in 27.44, Jessica Gibbon (Reading) in 14th also in 27.44, Cari Hughes (Cardiff) finishing 22nd (28.16) and Amy-Eloise Markovc (Wakefield) in 26th (28.20) all of which led the team to a great Silver Medal. Overall it was a great day for the British athletes winning 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze Medals to head the Medals table.
Senior Women’s British Team – Silver Medalists
On the road and the Telford 10k traditionally known as a fast course with prospects of a very good competitive field and potential new personal bests for many athletes. Over a 1000 runners finished the race which was won by Highgate’s Alexander Lepretre in a time of 28.54 with fellow club athlete Jacob Allen in 2nd (28.56) and Liverpool’s Conor Bradley in 3rd (29.01). The quality of the field was shown in the fact that after the first two ran sub 29 minutes the next 30 all ran sub 30 minute times and among them was Blackburn Harriers Daniel Bebbington in 25th place running a new PB of 29.42 just over a minute faster than his previous best time. Daniel had been selected to run as part of the North of England team and was first counter along with Liverpool’s Tom Rogerson (37th), Spenborough’s Joe Sagar (41st) and Leeds Ethan Hussey (45th) and was happy with the day as he explained to the Club afterwards commenting that he was “Very happy with my run and the time as it’s my first 10k in 3 years and I took over a minute off my pb. Went out a little too fast through the first half and it showed in the second half but it’s something to learn from and improve on in my next 10k which will be Ribble Valley”.
It wasn’t the best of conditions for the latest Mid Lancs cross country fixture held at Wilson Playing Fields on Saturday December 10th, which was reflected in the reduced numbers running on the day. Once again, a huge thankyou to Norman Mitchell from Hyndburn AC who took on the thankless task of preparing and setting up the course with just a handful of volunteers doing their best in difficult cirumstances. It also highlights, even more glaringly, the need to draw more volunteers into the sport. The idea that volunteers, many of who are well into their 60’s and 70’s and even 80’s can continue to shoulder the responsibilities for organising events, staffing them, clearing up afterwards and to carry on regardless is pointing towards an existential crisis in the sport. Blackburn Harriers has already hosted a Mid Lancs cross country fixture in October, will run the Ribble Valley 10k which includes the Northern 10k Road Championships on December 27th at Clitheroe, host the Lancashire Cross County Championships on January 7th at Witton Park followed by hosting the Northern Cross Country Championships on January 28th at Witton Park.
This level of commitment isn’t sustainable without a huge increase in volunteer support and we would appeal to anyone connected with our sport, in all of the competing athletic clubs – parents, retired athletes, those who simply spectate – to ask themselves, what can i do to help; how can i get involved; how much will i be expected to do, to commit to? The answer to all of these questions is pretty straight forward – speak to your Club Officers – who are all volunteers themselves – and just have a chat to see what and how you can become involved yourself. Athletics is a beautiful sport and it isn’t always just about performance. Think of the way in which young people grow up and the positive influences they embrace as a result of being involved with a Club and a training group, as part of a team of friends competing together, as part of a community supporting each and everyone within it. Think about the values that young athletes develop and adopt – discipline, organisation, ambition, drive, solidarity, non-discrimation and most important of all, pure joy and fun. Our volunteer Coaches, Officials, Club Officers play a part in all of that. What a rewarding thing to be involved in, being part of making a difference to young peoples lives. Doing something, contributing something, actually making a difference to another human beings life – there cannot be anything more rewarding that that. Join in.
As the days races started, the runners were greeted with snow that continued to fall, albeit in patches, making running look picturesque at times but also muddy, cold and difficult too. Amelia Pacelli braved the conditions in the U11 Girls race finishing 23rd in a time 7.42 whilst in the U11 Boys race following, Finn Morrison had a great race finishing 4th out of 33 in the field in time of 5.52. The U13 Girls race featuring 34 youngsters quickly developed into a competition between Agatha Taylor and Blackpool’s Kristy Leitch which was eventually won by Agatha in a time of 8.05 with Kristy in 2nd (8.08). Evie Fort, Lyra Krige and Charlotte Rothwell backed up Agatha for the team with Evie placing 21st (9.29), Lyra (26th) in a time of 9.43 and Charlotte running 10.29 in 31st.
The U13 Boys race worked out as most predicted, in a batlle between the Harriers Jack Baranowski and Southport’s William Delaware. Once Delamere opened a lead for himself, he never relinquished it and won in 7.18 with Jack coming home in 2nd spot (7.24). Theo Robinson had another fine run on the back of his win at Marl Pits in the Red Rose League – placing 4th in a time of 7.44 with team mate Liam Bennison placing 7th (8.25) which meant the three lads counted and won the team race.
The Club had four athletes in the U15 Girls Race within a field of 29 – the race being won by Liverpool’s Holly Cross in 7.37. Hannah Davies came home in 19th spot running 9.47 with team mates Freya Neild in 20th (9.49), Tamzin Osborne (22nd) running 9.56 , the same time as Imogen Robinson in 23rd resulting in the team placing 2nd. Jack Wood and Alex Rothwell went in the U15 Boys race – just 23 runners starting. Jack continued with his strong runs in his first competitive season for the Club, crossing the finishing line in 8th place (14.16) with Alex also running well in a time of 15.06 (14th).
Only 15 athletes in the U17 men’s race, which again, turned into a race between the first two as Dexta Thompson set off well at the front of the pack. It soon came down to a race between Dexta and Lancaster’s Tom Bowman with Bowman drawing away to win in a time of 19.29 – Dexta placing 2nd in 19.38, some 25 seconds in front of 3rd placed Max Hazlehurst (Leven Valley). The Senior Women’s race had just 93 runners and four U20 women finishing in the top 6 places. Amy Davies came home 3rd spot overall – 3rd U20 – in a time of 22.40 which was another strong run from her and Lindsay Davies (V50) finished in 29th in a time of 27.55.
Unfortunately there was an issue for the Senior Men’s race following a mix up with the number of laps being run. These results are being worked out at the moment and will be released as soon as they are agreed. The Harriers had six athletes running – Ben Walmsley making his first appearance for the Harriers, Marc Hartley, Nick Gaskell, Mark Chippendale, Danny Maynard and Anton Krige.
Blackburn Harriers Jack Hindle recently won selection to compete for the RAF at the Aircom INSP XC International Championships and had a very good day as the RAF, competing against air force teams internationally – finishing 2nd team behind Poland. Jack came home in 7th position overall in the race (32.38).
Charlotte Williams who now studies at Kansas State University, was competing in the Women’s Weight Throw at her first Indoor Meeting this year, in fact her first time Indoors ever at the KANSAS STATE WINTER INV & PENTATHLON which took place on 9/10th December. With three throws over 16m and a best of 16.68m – a new personal best – Charlotte was very pleased with her competition which showed in her comments to the Harriers after the competition, saying that she “Competed yesterday, my first time doing the weight and my first time doing indoor competitions. At Georgia I got told I can’t compete for Weight because I wasn’t good enough (which I wasn’t my best was 15.60 and my average was 14.80). Yesterday I competed and got 16.68 with three throws over 16m. I know I can improve on that as it’s only December so I’m really happy with that result. First time I’ve felt satisfied with a competition since 2019″.