CROSS COUNTRY: Rugby & Northampton AC

Rugby and Northampton AC’s young athletes travelled up to Mansfield for the National Relays Cross Country, one of the biggest events for the young athletes during the winter.

The club was well represented throughout with 13 teams entered, but unfortunately with some late withdrawals two of the teams were incomplete. The other 11 teams competed well and did the club proud.

The club was delighted to be able to field three U20 teams and all approached the race with enthusiasm at being able to race over a much shorter distance than usual for their age group.

Two ladies teams were first off with A team Gabriella Moriarty, Emily Waugh & Charlotte Inwood knowing it would be an uphill struggle with recent injuries to repeat their bronze medal success of two years ago and the B team of Lauren Byrd, Mary Hughes and Eleanor Barnes keen to chase them hard around the fast hilly course. In a highly competitive field the A team finished 13th overall and the B team 18th. All these ladies have another year to compete in this age group.

The under 17 ladies team done well to finish 40th out of 48 teams, in this high class competition with Tilly Lea taking the first leg, in a bustling start, finishing in 49th place with a time of 10 minutes 28 seconds, the second leg was ran by Lauren Dams, running in her first competition for the club in possibly the toughest race of her season, and only losing two places to finish her leg in 51st place with a time of 11 minutes 18 minutes 18 seconds.

Old faithful Click Blake ran the third and quickest leg in 10 seconds passing several other athletes on the way to bring the team back up to 40th place. All these girls did the club proud, holding their own against very tough competition.

The U20 men faced some of the best junior XC runners in the country and the race was fast & furious from the start. Sam Turnell led the team out well and responding to the challenge finishing his leg in 10mins 17 seconds, he was followed by the youngster of the trio Jack Hall who chased down the opposition and finished leg 2 in 10mins 18 seconds, the experienced Robert Male chalked up the fastest leg for the team with 10 mins 9 seconds. The team finished overall in 44th place.

The U17 men finished in a credible 39th place, running the 3 legs in a combined time of 30mins 50seconds. First leg runner Jacob Allen gave the team an excellent start as he was up with the leaders for the first half of his leg. The initial very fast pace eventually had an impact towards the end of the leg but he dug in to finish in 10 mins 01. Harry Hughes took over for the second leg and worked his way through the field and finished an excellent run in 10 mins 34. Tom Charteress who is more at home on the track, took on the challenge of the final leg and fought his way past several competitors and finished with a remarkable burst of speed in 10 mins 13. A very satisfactory performance against some high quality opposition.

A young U13 girls’ team ran well together to produce an excellent performance finishing in 36th place for R&N out of 85 National teams. Lead runner Lily Carmichael ran a strong, solid leg to bring the team home in 24th position in a time of 7:56.50, handing over to Millie Mason who covered the 2K course in 8:52.25 with a very fast finish. Last up for the team was youngster Georgia Willix who had a fine run covering the muddy course in 8:43.05.

U13B- a young team performed well in a large field of 75 teams to come home in 31st place. The A team started with new athlete Michael Bailey who ran the first leg in 8.05, followed by Cameron Roberts 7.59 and star performer Haydn Arnall who had a very strong finish in 7.38. James Kirk and Ewan Roberts also ran good legs of 8.06 and 8.03 but unfortunately due to a late drop out couldn’t field a second full team.

U15G- in the largest field of the day with 95 teams, Rugby and Northampton put in 3 teams who all performed well in a fast 2k race. First team home was Alison Inwood (8.45) Layne Wray (8.53) and Natalie Goddard (8.40) in 63rd place. The second team of Katie Clubb (8.56) Megan Exley (9.04) and Kirsty Goddard (8.53) finished 75th and the third team of Katie Williamson who was the fastest of the Rugby and Northampton girls (8.33), Flora Courtney(9.39) and Emily Byrd (9.14) were 82nd.

The day was drawing on, the rain was getting harder and reports that the course was cutting up were filtering through from those that had run their race, were now changed and ready to go home. With two late withdrawals from this age group, the remaining four warmed up and stripped ready for action. Perri Dando and Ben Musgrove were the first to go for the team, a sprint start and off they went into the distance, not to be seen until they came up the steep final stretch to the change over position. Being the teams were made up of three runners, Ben drew the short straw and ran as an individual clocking in at an impressive 7mins 32 secs and finishing his leg in 51st position.

It was Perris first cross country race for the club and clocked in at a respectable 7min 42secs in 72nd position before handing over to Isaac Davis who stormed out of the holding pen and off down the course. Although only his second race for the club, Isaac pushed on and gained valuable positions bringing the team up to 59th as he crossed the line, passing over to the experienced Adam Wright. The rain had eased, the crowds gathered at the finish line and Adam had a job to do. Running his leg in 7mins 36secs, Adam stormed over the line bringing the team home in a final position of 50th out of the 79 complete and finishing teams. Considering the inexperience of two thirds of the team, 50th was a fair result and one that the whole team should be pleased with.