Great Bentley Finish Fourth in 53-12 Cross-Country League
On Sunday 49 Gt Bentley runners made the journey to Wherstead for the finale of this winter’s cross-country season. The event was hosted by league champions Ipswich Jaffa. The undulating course was mostly dry, but strong, cold cross-winds made the going tough.
The Bentley team finished 4th in the event and secured an excellent overall 4th place in the league for the season.
The men’s race numbered 158, with Bentley bringing out all their big hitters to ensure a strong finish to the cross-country season. As always there were several outstanding individual performances.
The club’s top four runners all ran strong races with Chris Warren crossing the line in 19th, followed in quick succession by Russ Sharpe (21st) (who also improved by 13 places on the previous fixture at Chelmsford), Dave Wright (23rd) and Ben Ficken (25th) who improved a massive 20 places on his previous race.
Mark Jasper (40th) also had a great run, improving 17 places and just ahead of Charlie Keitch (41st). The scoring team of eight was completed by Matt Knowles (64th) and Michael Simmons (73rd) returning in good form after a long injury lay-off.
The men were bolstered by a number of other strong runs with several promising debuts. Among them Richard Moor (83rd) in his first 53-12 race and Rob Thorpe (86th), improving by 16 places, with Patrick Reynolds (102nd) 22 places up.
The performance of the day came from Andy Fuller (107th) who made up an incredible 70 places on his last cross-country outing at Halstead in December. He was quickly followed by Graham Clarke (109th), improving 16 places and Barry Jarius (115th), another encouraging debutant.
Derek Greenham (122nd) had a great finish to the season, improving a huge 53 places on his last outing in December as did Brian Telford (141st), 38 places up on his last outing early in the season.
Encouraging season debuts also came from Scott Young (139th), Darren Willey (143rd), Harvey Lyon (153rd) and Luke Groves (156th).
The men’s race was won by Chris Sellens of Springfield Striders with Striders.
In the ladies’ race Gt Bentley fielded a team of 14 in a field of 69 runners, finishing 4th for the fixture.
Ladies captain, Vicky Presland topped a great season with 4th place, making it six out of six races as first club scorer. She was followed by further strong runs from Meera Rajoo-Oakley (17th) and Eileen Shadford (27th). Rachel Giles (31st) also topped a promising season, completing the scoring team of four, and was amongst the scorers for the first time.
A number of other strong performances followed: Tricia Stacey (39th), Lorna Sharpe (48th), Marion Simmons (49th) and Anthea Colsell (52nd) all made six to seven place improvements on their previous races, with Anna Lyon (55th) and Rita Page (69th) both having encouraging season debuts.
Helene Tyler (61st) showed she is one to watch for the future having moved steadily up the placings this season and with a leap 14 places in the finale.
Other strong runs came from Barbara Law (64th), Sandra James (67th) and Linzi Iddon (68th) with both making double figure place improvements on their previous outings.
The ladies’ race was won by Sara Bird of Ipswich Jaffa with the club also winning the fixture and taking the league title.
The junior race numbered a large field of 129 with 9 Gt Bentley runners taking part. The team finished 9th for the event and have finished 8th in the final league standings.
Cai Telford (40th) led the team home, followed by Katie Presland (56th) and Harrison Leek (70th). Hallie Booty (95th) and Megan Hughes (104th) completed the scoring five.
Good supporting runs came from Daniel Day (113th), Ben Iyon (119th) with a season debut, Tommy Colsell (121st) and Harry Booty (125th).
The race was once again won by Tom Rehal of Tiptree.
With the senior team finishing only one point behind third placed Springfield Striders, Gt Bentley have had a very good winter. The club will now look to continue their success in the approaching spring road racing season, commencing with the Essex Road Relay Championships at Harwich on 19 March.