Bentley finish fourth as tight battle for final league positions develops

Chelmsford XC report

On Sunday 29 January Great Bentley’s cross-country team made their way to Writtle College near Chelmsford for the penultimate fixture of the winter.

Hosts, Springfield Striders welcomed the squad of 58 who are now battling to avoid relegation from Pool A to Pool B in the League, despite a second senior fourth place finish.

The Ladies team of 18 led the campaign, finishing third for the fixture.  Vicky Presland finished 10th, improving by one place on the last race at Ipswich, despite suffering from a cold.  She was followed by Anna Mills (20th), who had a great run, improving 8 places on her last outing at Halstead in December.  Meera Rajoo-Oakley (21st) followed close behind, again demonstrating her developing running strength and key status in the Ladies team.  Sophie Apps (29th) completed the scoring squad of 4 with a strong season debut.

Geraldine Springett (35th), Toni Wilson (39th) and Lorna Sharp (50th) all showed developing fitness in the strong field.

Anthea Colsell (72nd) and Belinda Palmer Barnes (84th) have shown steady and promising development as cross-country runners this season, improving this time by 3 and 2 places respectively on the Ipswich race last week.

Lyndsey Apps (86th) and Louise Upson (88th) both improved by one place.  Nina Simmons (89th) has also continued to strengthen this season, improving a place on her last race in December.

The race was won by Davina Greenwell of Hadleigh Hares.

The men’s race saw a quality squad contribute to the club’s fight to try and move off the bottom of Pool A.   They failed, but only narrowly, thus now allowing a realistic chance of survival in Pool A for next season, with one fixture remaining.

Joe Alexander (9th) opened the account with a great top ten finish in his season debut.  Adam Smith (16th) also provided much needed points with a great league debut for the club.  He was followed by the ever dependable Dave Wright (25th) with a great run, improving 5 places on Ipswich.  The V40 veteran trio of Chris Warren (35th), Russ Sharpe (36th) and Mark Jasper (38th) have provided the solid centre of the squad this season and all again ran well, with Sharp and Jasper improving by 2 and 3 places respectively in a tough field.

Marathon star, Dave Goldsmith (54th) had another very good run, improving 4 places, and was quickly followed by Paul Davidson (57th), who had the run of the day, improving by 12 places and edging into the scoring team for the first time since December.

Michael Simmons (58th) benefited from his ‘Iron Man’ Triathlon preparations, improving 4 places, whist Jake Darkins (61st) and Tim Ballard (70th) continue to show promise, improving 4 and 9 places respectively.

Malcolm Jarvis (73rd) and Rob Thorpe (87th) have both been doing specialized cross-country training this season and their commitment is clearly paying off, with Jarvis improving 13 places on the last fixture and Thorpe an amazing 25 places since his last race at Halstead in December.

There were a number of other big improvers: Recent club signing Richard Moor (75th) improved an incredible 36 places from the second race at Harwich some 8 weeks ago, with Lee Clarkson (80th), Gary parker (83rd), Paul Hollidge (110th) and Rodger Alexander (102nd) all improving by more than 20 places.

Charlie Keitch (78th) made a much welcome return to the cross-country circuit with an encouraging season debut, whilst Colin Farmer (86th) and Phil Presland (113th) both impressed with 10 place improvements.  Paul Carlisle (114th) finished close behind, improving by 5 places.

Graham Clarke (123rd) and John Booty (135th) ran strong races with both improving by 14 places, followed by a solid season’s debut from Scott Young (138th).

Harvey Lyon (177th) made an excellent return to the cross-country circuit, improving by an amazing 72 places on his previous outing at Colchester in November.  Andy Fuller (162nd) continues to make good progress, improving 9 places, with Gary Hill (170th) and David Iddon (174th) improving by 17 and 20 places respectively from their last outings in December.

Mark Crittenden (179th) impressed with an 18 place improvement, as did the closely following John Bush (180th) with a 16 place improvement.

The race was won by Paul Wain of Ipswich Jaffa.

The junior contingent produced some impressive performances in the shorter 2km race.  Harrison Leek (35th) remains the club’s leading junior, improving by 2 places.  Katie Presland (47th) made a big step forward with a 23 place advance, as did Tommy Colsell (86th), improving by a 32 position margin.  The junior run of the day came from Harry Booty (87th) who moved up 34 places from the previous fixture at Ipswich, and closed out the scoring squad of 4.

Very strong supporting runs came from Megan Hughes (88th) and Angel Jasper (94th) who improved by 40 and 44 places respectively.

The race was won by Thomas Abbott of Ipswich Jaffa.

GBRC now face a tough but winnable battle to survive in Pool A when they gather at Discovery Park for the final race of the season in 3 weeks’ time.

Matthew Knowles