Bourne Town Harriers athletes mingled with Olympians and World Champions when they competed at the English Cross Country Championships held at Wollaton Park, Nottingham on Saturday.
A record of 4,686 athletes competed in the seven races which make up this prestigious event.
Although the day was fine and clear, there was a strong wind and conditions underfoot were extremely muddy. Coupled with the undulating parkland course, the event was a challenge to athletes of all levels and entirely befitting such an important event.
Beth Howells was the first Bourne Town Harrier to run when she competed in the Under-17 Women’s Championship. Beth finished her 5k race in 177th place out of a field of 211 in a time of 24:09.
The next race was the 4.25k Under-15 Boys Championship. Cameron Everist and Scott Taylor representedBourne Town in a field of 346. Cameron finished in an excellent 163rd place and a time of 16:19 followed by Scott in 231st in a time of 17:04.
Elin James was the next Bourne runner in the 3k Under 13 Girls Championship. Elin in her first National Championship finished in a time of 14:57 and a race position of 331st in a record field of 432.
Molly Bennett was the next Bourne Town Harrier, competing in the Under 15 Girls Championship. In a large field of 355 runners, Molly finished the 4.25k race in a commendable 315th place and a time of 21:17.
The final junior Bourne Town runner was Toby Everist in the 3k Under 13 Boys Championship. In another record field of 385 runners, Toby finished in a time of 14:48 in 348th place.
The highlights of the day were the two senior races. In the Women’s Senior Championship, Claire Steels and Karen Clark represented Bourne.
Claire, in probably the performance of the day finished the 8k race in 34:40 and in 170th position out of a huge field of 708 runners. Karen finished in 423rd place in a time of 39:37.
The 1,657 athletes who took part in the Men’s Senior Championship included the Olympic triathlon bronze medalist Jonathon Brownlee.
The Bourne Town were represented by a strong compliment of runners. They were led home by Matthew Grace in a time of 43:00 and 335th place. Matthew was followed by Shaun Hill in 866th place in a time of 49:18, Tony Gilbert in 909th place and a time of 49:49 and Mick Howells in 920th place and a time of 49:56.
The Bourne Town Harriers contingent were completed by Tim Wigley in 948th position and a time of 50:18, Phil Galpin in 1,072nd place and in a time of 51:54 and also breaking the hour barrier, Richard Houghton in 1,405th place ant a time of 57:39.
The Bourne Town senior men’s team finished in 73rd place out of 127 competing teams.
Bourne based Nene Valley Harrier Alex Hampson had a storming performance in the Under-17 Boys’ race, coming 32nd out of a field of 272 in 20.55.
Two Bourne based athletes represented Grantham AC in thee championships.
In the under 13 boys race Aaron Hunt finished 98th helping the Grantham team to finish in 27th place, and Saskia Hunt finished 292nd in the under 15 girls race.
Both Saskia and Aaron will be representing Lincolnshire in the inter-counties championships at Cofton Park, Birmingham on the 8th March
At just 15-years old, Hampson is still at the bottom of his age group, further underlying how impressive his run was in the biggest cross country competition of the year so far.
Hampson was followed in by James McCrae (95th in 22.03), Cameron Marshall (125th in 22.26) and Bradley Spurdens (178th in 23.24) to complete the team and come 11th overall. Another result of note came from Jake Richardson in 43rd position in 21.15. The race marked his last outing for his old club, Grantham AC, before swapping his vest for the white, red and blue colours of NVH.
Another age group to complete a team was the U15 boys, led in by Austin Herbert in a credible 103rd position in 15.45, closely followed by Oliver Bowling (124th in 15.55), Will Baker (139th in 16.05), and Nathanial Taylor (221st in 16.59).
Emily Brand followed up her top 100 result from the Southern Cross Country Championships with an excellent 134th in the U17 girls’ race. Crossing the line in 22.32, she was just one minute off another top 100 performance. Annie Gray (184th in 24.49), Amy Gibbon (188th in 25.13) and Leigh Ann Rose (199th in 26.01) ensured the Harriers closed another strong team.
Matt Green headed up the senior men’s team in 489th place, covering the 12km distance in 44.59, with good support from Sean Beard in 569th (46.01), James McDonald in 817th (48.42) and Nigel Dickens in 1482nd (59.40).
Megan Ellison showed great improvement when finishing 120th in the U15 girls’ race in 17.55, with team mate Imogen Woodard also fighting hard for her position in 283rd (20.29).
The youngsters in the U13 boys and girls did their best in their 3k races, but found it tough going over such a short distance. Amber Park was first in for the club in 185th (13.59), and Kelsi Ellis (226th in 14.15), Josephine Fortune (236th in 14.20) and Ellie Piccaver (303rd in 14.46) did well to make up the team. Keilin Spurdens was 172nd in 12.53 in the boys’ race, closely followed by Harry Burchnell (190th in 13.00), Ollie Smith (227th in 13.15) and Ollie Oakley (231st in 13.17).
Other NVH performances
U17 boys: Kurt Smyth (188th in 23.33), Dan Corrigan (252nd in 25.35)
U15 boys: Bradley Allen (308th in 18.22), Edwin Flack (313th in 18.29)
U13 girls: Paula Naylor (380th in 15.28), Libby Burchnell (430th in 20.51)
U13 boys: Ethan Ellison (264th in 13.26), Charlie Bamford (296th in 13.51)