53-12 XC Harwich – Race report

Bentley up the Pace at Harwich

On Sunday 5th November 45 GBRC runners competed in the second cross-country fixture of this season’s 53-12 League competition.  The venue was the muddy tracks and fields of Ramsey and hosted by Harwich Runners.

419 athletes took part in the contest which totalled 211 men, 97 ladies and 111 juniors.

The weather was somewhat kinder than in other years at this venue – a bright sunny day greeted the athletes, although rain the day before made the going heavy.

The ladies’ team improved on last weekend’s 5th place, claiming the 4th spot, whilst the men repeated 5th.  The current pace of improvement in both teams already suggests a mid-table finish this season is possible.

In the ladies’ race Bentley’s leading athlete, Vicky Presland finished a clear 6th, and was followed by Meera Rajoo-Oakley in 19th with a remarkable 8 place improvement on the opening race.  Eileen Shadford (25th) achieved an amazing lifetime best finish, improving 10 places, whilst Geraldine Springett (26th) opened her account for the season with a strong run to complete the scoring team.

There were several other big improvers in the Bentley contingent; Sarah Fletcher (34th), improving 14 places on her last outing with Hein Hoang (44th) stepping up by 11 spots.  She was closely followed over the finish line by Tricia Stacey (49th) with an improvement of 6 places.

Maria Batista-Fractuoso (50th) made a welcome and strong return to the cross-country scene, whilst debutant Amy Young (55th) made a promising start to the winter season.

Anthea Colsell (67th) and Louise Upston (92nd) followed with improvements of 4 and 12 places respectively on their last outings.  Barbara Law (94th) and Sandra James (97th) also returned with improved runs by 6 and 10 places respectively.

The race was won for the second time this season by Rachael Sweatt of Witham Runners.

The men’s race showed that both strength and depth is growing in the squad.  Clun chairman Russ Sharpe (32nd) led the team home with a 5 place improvement on last weekend.  He was followed by Dave Wright (39th) and Adam Smith (46th) who produced a great run with a 17 place improvement on the first fixture.  Mark Jasper (65th) and Paul Connell (69th) also continued their strong starts to the season improving by 11 and 8 places respectively.

There was a much welcome return to the field by Simon Day (70th), who demonstrated his usual toughness and resolve in his first cross-country race for several years.

Matt Laverack (78th) had a great run, improving 15 places, whilst promising debutant Dan Clapton (83rd) claimed the final scoring place in his first league race.

Robin Oakley (105th) is another debutant, showing big potential.  He was followed by strong finishes from Paul Hollidge (107th), Phil Presland (109th) and Paul Carlisle (117th), all of whom improve their positions.

Peter Benton (125th) continued to build on his great start to the season with an amazing 30 place jump on last weekend, with the closely following Patrick Reynolds (126th) making a 10 place jump.

Mark Ross (156th), John Booty (159th) and Matt Knowles (166th) all made significant improvements on their last outings, as did Scott Young (173rd) and Martin West (202nd), moving up 7 and 6 places respectively.

The race was won by Angus Holford of Colchester Harriers.

In the junior race, the team moved up to 8th place due to strong performances from all four runners.  Newcomer Lucas Southerward (47th) made a great start to cross-country racing, finishing 9th in his category.  Tom Colsell (51st) also ran very well improving 6 places and finishing 11th in category.

Harry Booty (77th) had another strong run to finish 19th in age group, whilst Angel Jasper (91st) moved up 8 places to a very promising 13th in category.

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

The Great Bentley team will be making the short trip to Abbey Fields, Colchester on November 26th for the third fixture of the season, with the club poised to overtake its near rivals in the league.

Matthew Knowles