On Sunday 39 Gt Bentley runners travelled to Chelmsford for the penultimate fixture of the cross-country season. The race was hosted by Springfield Striders at the new venue of Writtle College. The course comprised a good mixture of hills, mud tracks and lakeside trails.
The combined men’s and ladies’ team achieved 5th place out of the 12 competing clubs, placing them 4th overall in the league with one fixture remaining.
The ladies’ race numbered 85 with the Gt Bentley team finishing 3rd, one place up from the previous fixture at Hadleigh. The scoring team of 4 were once again led home by Vicky Presland in 3rd, who also improved by one place on the previous fixture. She was followed by Anna Mills (21st) and Eileen Shadford (25th) who both improved by 4 places on their previous outings. The scoring team was completed with another great run from Chusa Bautista (30th), improving by 9 places. The race was won by Laura Thomas of Ipswich Jaffa, with her club also winning the team event.
There were a number of other big performances from the ladies’ team: Rachel Giles (32nd), Caroline Searle (65th) and Linzi Iddon (78th) all made double figure place improvements. Tricia Stacey (46th) improved by a superb 9 places on her last outing at Harwich with Marion Simmons (55th) and Barbara Law (66th) both improving by 3 places on their previous performances. There was also a strong season debut from Laura Green in 77th.
The men’s field numbered 180 runners and despite the 15% larger field than at Hadleigh there were some big place improvements from many of the Bentley team.
Chris Warren ran a very strong race to finish 17th (a 6 place improvement). He was followed by Dave Wright (27th), Russ Sharpe (34th) and Ben Ficken (45th).
The performance of the day came from Roger Alexander (55th) who, from his last performance at Hadleigh improved by a superb 25 places and from 8th to 5th Great Bentley scorer. Mark Jasper (57th) was chasing close behind with another strong run and a 15 place improvement. Matt Knowles (62nd) showed a welcome return to form, improving 31 places on his last finish at Halstead and just behind fellow veteran Mark Rutter of Harwich after a sprint finish. The scoring team of 8 was completed with a promising debut from David Burrows in 70th. The race was won by Andrew Rooke of Ipswich Jaffa with Springfield Striders winning the team event.
There were a number of other very strong runs with Paul Carlisle (95th) and Rob Thorpe (102nd) improving by 11 and 12 places respectively. Patrick Reynolds (124th) also ran well, improving by 4 places as did John Booty (129th) with a 14 place improvement. Mark Ross (136th) made a strong season debut. He was followed by Frank Gardiner (150th) and John Bush (163rd) who improved by big margins of 54 and 45 places respectively.
In the supporting junior race Gt Bentley fielded a team of 6 runners, finishing 8th in the team event; one place up on the previous fixture and retaining 8th position in the league.
Michael Oates (32nd) led the way, improving by 11 places on the previous race. He was followed by Katie Presland (54th) and Harrison Leek (56th) who also improved by 9 places and moved from 19th to 14th in his age category. Strong runs also came from Megan Hughes (78th) and Tommy Colsell (80th) who both showed double figure place improvements and were quickly followed by Harry Booty in 82nd.
There is now one 53-12 league race remaining this season, to take place at Wherstead and hosted by Ipswich Jaffa on 28 February. Ipswich Jaffa remain top of the senior league with Colchester Harriers in second. Great Bentley are within striking distance of third behind Springfield Striders. The final contest for third place in the league this season is likely to be close between Springfield and Gt Bentley.