Great Bentley Ladies Storm to Second Place

Ipswich cross country race report – 

On Sunday the Great Bentley cross-country team travelled to the icy, windswept slopes of Wherstead for the 4th cross-country fixture of the season, hosted by Ipswich Jaffa.

Despite the Siberian conditions, Bentley fielded a very healthy 61 runners from a total number of 420 competitors, including both senior and junior races.

Despite being at the foot of Pool A in the league, there were some fantastic performances, particularly from the ladies’ team, who finished second behind leaders, Ipswich Jaffa, and just ahead of local rivals Harwich.  This points to a strong finish for the club in the upcoming final two races of the season.

From the field of 93 ladies, Vicky Presland continued her long reign as the club’s leading runner, finishing 11th.  She was followed with a great run from Sam Godden (18th), who improved 9 places from the previous fixture at Halstead and in turn by the ever stronger Meera Rajoo-Oakley (19th), improving 6 places.  Geraldine Springett completed the scoring team of 4 in 32nd, with an amazing 22 place advance.

There were number of excellent individual performances, the most promising of which came from fast-developing marathon runner, Caroline Searle, who returned to the cross-country scene for the first time since November, finishing 53rd and improving an incredible 45 places since her last cross-country outing at Colchester.

Belinda Palmer-Barnes (86th) also had a fantastic run, also in her first cross-country outing since November, improving 55 places.

Other big improvers were Toni Wilson (35th) and Lorna Sharp (44th), who both improved by 12 places on Halstead.  Anna Lyon (47th) and Sue Sorrell (76th) also moved up the placings, by 14 and 11 places respectively.

Solid supporting season debut runs came from Lynsey Apps (87th), Louise Upson (89th) and Helene Tyler (92nd).

The ladies race was won by Sara Bird of Ipswich Jaffa.


In the men’s race Ryan Day (29th) had a superb run to lead the team home, and was pursued to the line by the ever-consistent Dave Wright (30th).  The team’s 3 leading veterans were next in close order: Chris Warren (33rd), Russ Sharp (38th) and Mark Jasper (41st), who also moved up 2 places from Halstead.  Ben Ficken (48th) made a welcome return to the cross-country circuit, improving 7 places on his last outing at Harwich.  The scoring 8 were completed with great runs from Tom Fowler (57th), improving an enormous 27 places on Harwich and sub 3 hour marathon star, Dave Goldsmith (58th), improving 18 places.

Senior club coach Michael Simmons (62nd) showed developing strength, improving 9 places, with the ever-reliable Malcolm Jarvis (86th) improving by a great 17 places.

The run of the day came from Tim Ballard (79th), who showed an astonishing improvement of 48 places since Halstead.

Other big performances came from Rodger Alexander (126th), Jack Wicks (174th) and Darren Willet (182nd), with all improving by big double figures on their previous outing.

Jake Darkins (65th) and Royston Theobald (139th) made promising cross-country debuts for the club, with Matt Jones (117th) and Martin Owen (188th) opening their accounts for the season with good supporting runs.

The men’s team finished fourth for the fixture, improving by one place on the third fixture.

The race was won by Craig Fiddaman of Ipswich Jaffa.

The junior race saw Bentley move from 9th to 8th in the League standings.  Once again Harrison Leek led Bentley home in 37th, improving 2 places on Halstead.  Katie Presland (70th), Tommy Colsell (118th), Harry Booty (121st) and Megan Hughes (128th) followed to complete the team’s success.

Good supporting runs came from Amie Apps (131st) and Angel Jasper (138th).

The race was once again won by Thomas Abbott of Ipswich Jaffa.

Great Bentley will be returning to action again next weekend in the 5th and penultimate race of the season, hosted by Springfield Striders’ at Chelmsford.

Matthew Knowles