Brilliant race by league leaders

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Birmingham Cross Country

League Division Two

December 3, Northampton

The Rugby & Northampton men’s team totally dominated the second Birmingham League Cross Country fixture of the season when they hosted the division two race at Abington Park.

The squad had three runners in the top ten for the first time ever and ran out the winners by over 100 points on the day to increase their lead at the top of the league to 135 points.

The top man for the club was 18 year old Rory Grant who stormed round the four lap 10k course to finish in a superb 3rd place with a time of 35 mins 11 secs making him only the third Northampton based athlete to clinch a top three berth in this division.

Chasing him hard all the way was Chris Lamb who is in the form of his life and crossed the line in 5th position on 35.28 to improve by five places from the previous race and join five other runners from the club that have made the top five.

Stuart Nelson also advanced one place from the first race to finish in 7th spot with 35.41 and the trio were backed up by three athletes who made the top 30.

Chris Perez finished 24th in 37.18 to score in the team for the 24th time putting him in fifth place on the all time Northampton list of most times in the team.

Junior man Luke Robinson was timed at 37.37 for 26th place and completing the scoring six was veteran Greg Spellman with a two place improvement from last time in 28th position on 37.47.

The team score of 93 points was only ten short of their best ever tally.

R&N had their biggest turnout for almost six years with 25 athletes completing the course, which included some Junior athletes making their debut.

This helped the B team to win by over 200 points and in fact, their total of 318 would have put them 7th amongst the A teams.

Leading the way was Conor Hills and the 17 year old gave a good account of himself in his first Senior race to finish in 36th place with 38.18 and he was followed by his junior team mate Robert Male in 48th with 38.43.

Team manager Vince Carroll claimed another B team place in 53rd spot on 38.53 and ten seconds behind was Liam Ratcliffe in 56th position. Ben Malia was timed at 39.23 for 62nd and just three seconds and one place behind was veteran Gary Wallace who closed off the victorious team.

Another debutant was teenager William Gardner and he finished in 74th place on 39.45 to be followed by a dozen more athletes from the club.

Seb Palmer was 78th in 39.51, Terry Egan (85th in 40.09), Nigel Roberts (96th in 40.38), Brian Summers (115th in 41.16), Matt Howes (119th in 41.36), John Saw (123rd in 41.51), Neil Willsher (130th in 42.14), Nathan Smith (143rd in 43.08), Steve Dixon (147th in 43.37), Alan Mould (155th in 44.04), Bernie Myers (158th in 44.18) and Max Chippington (160th in 44.32).

The third race in the series takes place at Coventry on January 14 and Rugby & Northampton are now well on course to clinch their first ever championship as a combined club.

Midland Women’s Cross

Country League

December 3, Northampton

The largest field ever assembled for a Ladies Cross Country race in Northampton took place at Abington Park when Rugby & Northampton hosted the Midland Women’s League.

The second race in the series saw a total of 191 athletes complete two large laps and one small lap of the park covering a distance of approximately 7km.

On an unusually mild sunny day for the beginning of December it was Jo Pulsford who once again flew the flag for the R&N Ladies to bring her unbeaten run to six races in this League. She crossed the line in 29th place with a time of 28 mins 27 secs and in doing so helped the team to finish in 11th position.

Veteran Alison Cooper came home next with 29.21 for 45th spot and Angela Copson, recent winner of the W60 Home Countries International for the fourth time, recorded 29.49 in 57th place.

Daisy Melville joined Cooper and Copson in a very close Masters team competition when she finished 61st in 30.07.

The R&N team finished in third place with only four points covering the top three.

Kate Williams has done a terrific job in getting the team together as team manager and she herself performed well to complete the course in 30.22 for 65th spot.

Michelle Leach was the next lady home in 89th on 31.45 and making her debut in the league was Junior lady Lauren Byrd who ran well to record 31.54 in 106th place.

Four other veterans turned out for the club with Sue Lawrence in 113th on 33.14, Tricia Garner ( 123rd in 34.35 ), Ann Rollings ( 138th in 36.25) and Barbara Parkinson ( 156th in 37.58).

The venue for the ladies third fixture will be at Baggeridge Park, near Dudley on January 14.