Harwich 53-12 Cross Country

Great Bentley Move Up to joint second in Cross Country League

On Sunday 47 Great Bentley runners travelled to Harwich for the second 53-12 race fixture of the cross-country season. The boggy farmland course has always proven challenging but with heavy rain the day before conditions were particularly tough.

The combined men’s and women’s team effort over the 5 mile course resulted in the club placing as runners-up for the fixture out of the ten participating teams, behind fixture winners and league leaders Ipswich Jaffa. After two fixtures the result now places Great Bentley in an impressive overall joint second in the league, level with Springfield Striders and Colchester Harriers.

It was the women’s team that led the way in a large field of 80. A second place team finish behind Ipswich Jaffa and ahead of Harwich Runners built upon on their fourth place at the first fixture of the season at Witham.

The scoring team of four were led home by Vicky Presland in 3rd, improving an impressive 6 places since Witham. Emily Zathraeus was next in 15th, followed by Anna Mills in 18th and Meera Rajoo-Oakley in 19th, both improving by 8 places to complete the scoring team of 4. The race was won by Davina Greenwell by Hadleigh Hares.

There were a number of other great performances: Rachel Giles (36th), Lorna Sharp (42nd), Barbara Law (78th), Sandra James (79th) and Linzi Iddon (80th) all improving by 20 places or more, with Caroline Searle (60th) improving by 18 places since the start of the season.

Other strong runs came from Claire Groves (43rd), Lesley Fuller (47th), Geraldine Springett (51st) and Lyndsay Apps (73rd).

In men’s race the Bentley team did well to repeat their fourth place performance two weeks ago against strong competition and a large field of 165 starters. Club chairman Russ Sharpe led the way, finishing 20th, followed closely by Chris Warren (23rd) who also improved by 4 places from the first fixture. David Wright finished 39th, quickly followed by Mark Jasper in 41st (improving 12 places), Michael Simmons (42nd) (a 14 place improvement), Charlie Keitch (44th), Jamie Neill (56th) and Matt Knowles (63rd) to complete the scoring 8. The race was won by Jonathan Ling of Ipswich Jaffa.


One of the outstanding performances of the day was 7th club scorer Jamie Neal who improved by an astounding 43 places on his 99th position at Witham two weeks ago. Another great leap forward came from Robert Thorpe (71st), improving 40 places. Other big performances were by Malcom Jarvis (65th), running last scorer Matt Knowles close and improving by 20 places since his last cross-country outing at Hadleigh in February. Kevin James (118th), returning from injury improved by 35 places, followed by Patrick Reynolds (132nd), 16 places up, Martin West (147th), 28 places up and Frank Gardiner (156th), improving by 20 places.

In the supporting 1 mile junior race 11 Bentley runners in a large field of 118 took on the muddy conditions. They finished a creditable 8th, in the team event, now placing them 7th out of 11 clubs in the junior league standings.

Milly Presland led the way with a strong 32nd, also placing 2nd in her age category and 3rd girl overall. She was swiftly followed by sister Katie in 40th and then by Michael Oates (47th). Harrison Leek (57th) and Harry Booty (84th) completed the scoring 5, with Harry improving by 2 places on the first fixture despite a larger field of runners at Harwich. The race was won by Thomas Abbott of Ipswich Jaffa.

Promising supporting runs came from younger competitors Hallie Booty (100th), Daniel Day (104th), Megan and Annie Bayliss (109th and 111th), Amie Apps (110th) and Caitlin Hughes (112th).

Great Bentley will be looking to build on their early season success at the 3rd 53-12 cross-country fixture of the season to be held at Halstead on December 6th.

Matt Knowles