GBRC well placed at half way stage of 53-12 XC

Bentley close behind Striders and Harriers at Half-Way Point in Cross-Country Season

On Sunday 40 Great Bentley runners travelled to Halstead for the third race fixture of the cross-country season. The event was dedicated to the late Mark Furnace, who sadly passed away on 30 November. Mark, of Ipswich Jaffa, had been a strong competitor in, and supporter of the 53-12 Cross-Country League over many seasons and his memory was honoured with the largest number of runners seen at a 53-12 fixture in many years. Including juniors, an incredible 415 runners took part, with hundreds of supporters to encourage them round the course, much of which was (traditionally) made up of very muddy, wet forest tracks.

The combined men’s and ladies team event was equitably won by Ipswich Jaffa, who also retain their place at the top of the 53-12 league.

Great Bentley’s combined men’s and ladies’ team placed 4th for the fixture, also leaving them 4th in the overall league standings, just 1 point behind Springfield Striders and 2 behind Colchester Harriers at the half-way point of this season’s competition.

Once again, it was the ladies’ team that led the way in a large field of 100 with a strong 3rd place finish, just ahead of Springfield Striders and behind Ipswich Jaffa, with Colchester Harriers winning the team race.

The scoring team of 4 were once again led home by Vicky Presland in 4th, followed by Emily Zathraeus (17th), Anna Mills (22nd) and Meera Rajoo-Oakley (24th). The race was won by Davina Greenwell of Hadleigh Hares.

Among the best performances of the day were by Eileen Shadford (29th), making a 3 place improvement on her last race at Witham, with Karen Skene (54th) and Anthea Colsell (70th), both making

improvements of 8 places on the Witham fixture. There were also strong season debuts from Hein Hong (58th) and Vicky Parker (67th).

Other strong performances came from Rachel Giles (47th), Geraldine Springett (63rd) and Barbara Law (95th).

In the men’s race Bentley placed 6th against extremely tough competition, and in a field of 213 runners, (nearly 30% larger than that at the previous fixture at Harwich). The team race was won by Springfield Striders.

It was all the 3’s for Russ Sharpe who, for the 3rd time this season led the men home in 33rd. He was followed by Chris Warren (43rd), Ben Ficken (62nd), Mark Jasper (79th), Charlie Keitch (85th) and Matt Knowles (93rd). Rodger Alexander (111th) and Malcom Jarvis (120th) completed the scoring 8, both achieving league points for the club for the first time this season. The race was won by Tristan Windley of Springfield Striders.

One of the outstanding performances of the day was from Paul Carlisle (122nd), who has improved considerably over the season thus far and only narrowly missed scoring for the team, running top 40 Essex V50 Malcom Jarvis very close.

Good season debuts came from Andy Stephens (164th), Derek Greenham (175th), Matt Jones (186th) and John Bush (208th).

Among other strong performances were John Booty (143rd), Patrick Reynolds (173rd) and returning from injury, Andy Fuller (177th).

In the supporting 2 kilometres junior race the team of 5 Bentley runners did well in a field of 102. They finished 9th in the team event, now placing them 8th in the league. Michael Oates led the way, finishing in 37th and with an impressive 10 place improvement on the previous fixture. He was followed by strong runs from Katie Presland (47th) and Harrison Leek (69th). The junior performance of the day came from Megan Hughes (93rd), improving 16 places. She was

quickly followed by Daniel Day (98th) who also improved by an excellent 6 places. The race was won by Oscar Dawson of Colchester Harriers. Colchester Harriers also won the team race, placing them 2nd behind Ipswich Jaffa in the junior league standings.

There is now a long winter break of 7 weeks until the 2nd half of the season begins with the 4th fixture at Hadleigh on January 24th.

Matthew Knowles