At 8.00am on the morning of the Race, Richard Taylor and a group of Blackburn Harriers volunteers set out on the finish off the Race Course for this years Lancashire Cross Country Championships in a deluge of rain – part of it being set up on Friday afternoon. By 9.30am it was till pouring down and the outlook looked bleak. But as race time – 11.00am – came nearer, so too did the rain start to ease off until we were left with what might be called good conditions for cross country running.
A massive shout ourt to all of those who volunteered setting up the Course, marshaling all day long and then taking down the Course at the end also to the many Lancashire Officials who oversaw the Championships throughout the day. These are the unsung heroes of these events. What an inspiration to, seeing legends of the sport Harry Walker and John Calvert not only being there, watching the Championships and standing at Marshaling Points, but also carrying back parts of the Course at the end.
The Harriers senior men’s team had won the County title at the last two championships – in 2022 from Rossendale in 2nd and Liverpool, Pembroke & Sefton in 3rd; 2021 was cancelled for Covid and in 2020 the Harriers took the title from Rossendale again in 2nd and Preston Harriers in 3rd. This year the Club was looking to make it a hat-trick of consecutive wins, which they did with all six counters finishing in the top 20 places to earn them 68 points in front of Rossendale Harriers in 2nd (91) and Preston Harriers in 3rd (250). Overall the Harriers had a very good day securing 6 Gold, 8 Silver and 2 Bronze Medals.
Daniel Bebbington set his stall out right from the off and hit the front on the first lap and never looked back, having a fine run to finish with a winning time of 31.46 some 39 seconds in front of 2nd placed Chris Livesey (Salford) in 32.25 and LPS athlete Ross Harrison in 3rd (32.46). Having won the Lancashire indiviudal title in 2018 and 2019 this was Daniel’s 3rd Lancashire title. V40 Ben Fish – winner of the individual title in 2020 – was the next home for the team in 5th spot (32.48) and backed up solidly with Joe Gebbie sticking in for a 9th place finish in 34.47, Joe Bridge in 16th spot (35.37), U20 David Holman running his first Lancashire Championships as an U20 in 18th (35.42) – 3rd U20 on the day for the Bronze Medal – and V50 Nick Gaskell in 19th (35.43) and 1st V50 with another fine run, starting off in 2023 as he has gone on in 2022 and demonstrating that age is not a barrier to good performances.
Ben Walmsley made his debut for the Club in a Championship event, just missing out on a top 20 finish, coming home in 24th spot (36.10) followed by V45 Chris Davies in 26th place running 36.17 and 2nd V45, U20 Sam Hodkinson in 31st spot with a time of 36.42, Marc Hartley finishing 34th (37.15), V50 Matt Nuttall 36th and 2nd V50 on the day running a time of 37.33, V55 Gary Pearse in 80th (45.13), V50 Anton Krige in 86th position (46.05) and V55 Chris Balderson (47.16) in 92nd place.
In the Vets competition there were more Titles and medals with the Harriers winning the vets team race with a total of 26 points from Rossendale in 2nd (63) and Preston in 3rd (65) – Blackburn Harriers four counters being Ben Fish, Nick Gaskell, Chris Davies and Matt Nuttall. Individually Ben won Silver in the V40’s, Nick won Gold in the V50’s, Chris won Silver in the V45’s as did Matt in the V50’s.
First races of the day revolved around the U11 Boys and Girls – 37 in the Boys race and 30 in the Girls. Blackburn Harriers Finn Morrison had a really good run coming home in 4th place with a time of 6.34 as did Theo Addy who ran a time of 7.09 in 14th place, both of the lads in their first year for the Club and first time for both in the Championships. Another young lad running his first race for the Club was Charlie Turner running a time of 8.17 (36th). Amelia Pacelii and Jenna McKinlay ran in the U11 Girls race with Amelia finishing in 11th place in a time of 7.37 alongside team-mate Jenna in 19th (8.23).
Jack Baranowski was a comfortable winner of the U13 Boys race winning by six seconds (10.15) from Henry Stennett (Northern (I.O.M) Ac (10.21) and Preston’s Samuel Ridgway in 3rd (10.22). Theo Robinson running 11.26 in 11th spot, George Holman in 16th (12.02), Liam Bennison in 18th (12.11) and Zak Tobin-Bennett (32nd) running a time of 13.33 made sure that the lads finished with a Silver Medal (46 points) behind winners Preston Harriers (32).
George Holman (68)
Seven U13 Girls took part for the Club in their race which saw them finish 4th overall in the team race. Emma Robertshaw led the way home with a great run crossing the line in 5th place (11.47) the first four places all being taken by young athletes from Blackpool who ran away with the team title. Next home for the Harriers came Evie Fort in 19th place running 13.05 with team mates Lyra Krige in 21st (13.25), Charlotte Smith (22nd) in a time of 13.30, Eleanor Woodford (14.47 placing 34th, Charlotte Rothwell in 35th spot (14.49) and Hetty Green finishing in 36th place (14.55).
The U15 Boys race saw another six Blackburn Harriers line up resulting in a 3rd place finish in the team race and a Bronze medal for the lads behind Preston in 2nd and Lancaster in 1st spot. Matthew Clark was a very comfortable winner running 12.08 with Oliver Gill in 2nd spot (12.51) and Sam Aspey in 3rd (12.54) both having really good runs. Jack Wood in 14th position running 13.56 and Matthew Smith in 15th (14.11) alongside team-mates Alex Rothwell in 21st (15.13) and George Ramsden in 22nd running 15.23 completed the results for the Harriers. The U15 Harriers Girls secured the Silver Medal with 70 points behind Blackpool (60) – the only two Clubs with complete teams of four – Isabella Pacelli leading the Harriers girls home in 12th place running 16.53 with Hannah Davies in 17th (17.13), Freya Neild 20th in a time of 17.30 and Lily Green in 21st (17.52).
In the U17 Men’s race featuring just 24 athletes our U17 Men’s team with six athletes lining up at the start, finished with identical points – 21 – alongside the Northern (I.O.M) A C team – the title being awarded to Northern on countback and team Silver to the Harriers. Daniel Smith led from the front for the Harriers having one of his best runs to place 2nd in a time of 18.10 and backed up by Dexta Thompson in 7th place (19.04), Jack Pagett-Fowler in 12th running 19.48, Jack Lamb in 14th position with a time of 20.43, Codie Dewhurst (16th) in 21.04 and Umair Rafiq in 18th place with his time of 21.44.
With 1st ,2nd and 6th places in the U17 Women’s race – an even smaller field of just 16 athletes – the Harriers secured the title with Isabel Holt winning the individual title by over a minute and half in a time of 21.08 from team-mate Evie Wright in 2nd place (22.42) with Keira Haxton placing 6th in a time of 23.37. The Senior Women’s race had just 61 finishers – Ellen Sagar-Hesketh coming home in 17th place overall with a time of 29.03 and V50 Linday Davies finishing 37th in 33.31.
More recent results……….at the Podium 5k held on new Years Day – (RESULTS) – Ben Walmsley started off the year with a good run to place 2nd in the B race clocking a time of 16.04 with U15 Oliver Gill having a really good run in 8th place clocking 16.35 and new PB by over half a minute. Matt Nuttall just four days after running the Ribble Valley 10k ran 16.40 in 11th position with U17 Codie Dewhurst placing 23rd in a time 18.08 after starting off very fast and paying the price later on.