In 2006, 2010 and 2016 the 2023 Northern Cross Country Championships were held at Witton Park and this weekend – January 28th 2023 – saw their return run on a course which had some changes to it from the last time it was run in 2016. A big thankyou to Richard Taylor who designed the new course, featuring a switch back on the main showfield part of the course and the introduction of the ‘Handle’ at the bottom of the infamous Saucer for the Senior Men’s race. The changes meant that the senior men’s race was able to be run over just three laps.
A big thank you to, to all those volunteers who turned up on Friday January 27th to build the course, ensuring it was all in place for Saturday morning. Then to all the volunteers who marshaled, and officiated at the event all day long, some of whom were still clearing up in the dark at 6.00pm. Thanks also to the groundstaff at Witton Park who helped make the day run smoothly.
Last, but by no means least, a huge thank you to Northern Athletics who having had their funding taken away by England Athletics had the foreseight to put in place a Registration scheme, ensuring the continuation of Northern Athletics and its ability to hold these Championships.
Run of the day for the Harriers came from Matt Ramsden in the Junior Men’s Race. The race quickly developed into a battle between himself and Jenson Connell who came in to the these Championships in good form having won the U20 age category at the recent Scottish Inter District XC Championships on January 14th. On the last lap Matt gradually moved away, increasing his lead to 13 seconds as he crossed the line to finish as Northern Junior Men’s Champion in a time of 24.34 with Jenson Connell in 2nd (24.47) and Finlay Grant in 3rd (25.18).David Holman and Sam Hodkinson also ran well with David placing 20th in a time of 26.37 and Sam in 45th spot running 28.33. The lads just missed out on a Podium finish ending up with 66 points behind Vale Royal (58) who took the Bronze with Wirral winning Silver and Salford Gold. Speaking ot the Harriers after the Race Matt commented on his race and the day saying “It was great to have the Northern Champs at Witton Park and I am delighted with the result! It was a great race and was very tough, especially climbing the saucer. A great outing for the club, well done to everyone who competed.“
In the Junior Women’s Race Amy Davies had a good run to finish 20th in a time of 24.38 just behind Border’s Anna Mason (24.29) and in front of Chortley’s Bethany Reid (24.54) – the race being won confortably by Cleethorpe’s Ella Greenway (22.16) with Preston’s Libby Huxley in 2nd (22.26) and Harrogate’s Eve Whittaker in 3rd (22.48). In the Senior Women’s race which had 270 athletes on the start line, Becky Shorrock and Lindsay Davies were the two athletes competing for the Harriers, Becky coming home in 112th position in a time of 36.10 with Lindsay in 15th spot (38.47).
Second medal of the day came in the U13 Boys Race where the Harriers took Bronze with a total of 140 points behind Preston with 129 and Hallamshire (118) – it was a tight finiish for the Bronze as Rotherham came 4th with 143 points, just three behind the Harriers. Jack Baranowski led the lads home into Bronze Medal position with a very good run and time of 11.42 in 4th place in the 112 strong field. Theo Robinson was the next Harrier home in 25th position running 12.40, and backed up by Liam Bennison in 55th (13.24) and George Holman in 56th with a time of 13.25.
Just two athletes in the U17 Men’s race featuring 103 in total and won by Liverpool’s Liam McCay in 20.03. Daniel Smith had a very strong run and put in an excellent finish to gain another two places, placing 12th in a time of 20.50 with Codie Dewhurst in 60th position running 23.06. Evie Taylor and Keira Haxton ran in the U17 Women’s Race won by Wharfedale’s Amelie Lane (20.44) at the head of a field of 75 athletes. Evie came across the line in 32nd position with a time of 23.21 with team mate Keira in 43rd spot running 24.19.
Two athletes also in the U15 Boys race which had 127 finishers and featured another very good run from first year U15 Sam Aspey who ran a time of 15.42 in 13th place with Matthew Smith in 87th place running a time of 17.49. In the U15 Girls race the Harriers had three athletes – Charlotte Robertshaw, Tamzin Osborne and Freya Neild. Charlotte ran a time of 19.42 in 63rd spot in a field of 132 athletes, followed by Tamzin in 112th spot (22.01) and Freya in 114th place running 22.13 – the race being won by Rotherham’s Isabella Waugh in a time of 16.44 with her team mate Grace Igoe in 2nd (16.47) and Liverpool’s Holly Cross in 3rd (16.58).
The Harriers U13 Girls team saw Agatha Taylor, Lottie Hesketh, Kyra Krige and Charlotte Smith make up the team which finished in 5th place overall with a points total of 204 – Birtley taking the team title with 36, Sale in 2nd (64), Liverpool in 3rd (90) and Halifax in 4th (184). Agatha was the first Harrier home in 23rd position out of the 121 starters in a time of 13.30 with 21st and 22nd both being given the same time. Next home for the Harriers was Lottie, running her first race for the Club after joining recently, in a time of 13.43 and 29th place. Lyra was our 3rd counter in 72nd place running 14.45 and backed up by the never say die attitude of Charlotte in 80th place with her time of 14.56.
Lottie Hesketh (153)
The Senior Men’s race saw Leeds win the title with a total of 93 points, Sale take the Silver (155) and Hallamshire (3rd) with 170 points. Blackburn Harriers finished 8th overall which given the number of athletes who weren’t available, turned out to be a pretty good result. Daniel Bebbington had a fine run, taking a top 10 place with his 37.35 in 9th place. Ben Fish had another very good run too, working his way through the field in taking 18th spot overall with a time of 38.19 to give the Harriers two in the first 18 positions. Joe Gebbie having had a cracking run at Leeds the week prior had another very strong run in 64th place (40.20) alongside team mates Josh Holgate in 106th running 41.46, Chris Davies (128th) in a time of 42.32, Nick Gaskell (42.52) in 139th place, Ben Walmsley in a time of 43.52 placing 171st, Mark Chippendale finishing 236th (45.56), Anton Krige in 393rd place running 52.50, Gary Pearse (54.11) in 421st and Chris Balderson running a time of 54.51 in 428th position.
It was another great weekend for Blackburn Harriers Ben Makin. After competing in Poland in October at the UIPM Pentathlon Junior World Championships for Ireland and finishing in front of Joseph Choong, Ben was competing this weekend – January 27/28th – in Ireland iat the National Championships, and what a good competition he had as he won to put himself in contention for selection later in the year. Speaking to the Club after his weekend success, Ben told us about his performance commenting that his “Fencing results with 33 victories & 13 defeats was my best ever fencing result in competition, definitely a massive positive as this is the discipline separating me from the top places at international events. My run was a time of 11:02 – winning the run by 2 minutes on the rest of the field allowed me to have a big enough gap on the rest of the field to ease back on the swim, swimming a 2:10. Overall a really good day over at the national training centre hopefully doing enough to be selected by sport Ireland for the up coming European games squad.”