The Nene Valley Harriers cross-country team were purring with delight as Cat Foley-Wray led them to an unexpected victory in Sunday’s Frostbite League fixture at Bourne Wood.
Not surprisingly the in-form 29 year-old was first lady home, finishing 16th in a high-quality field.
More significantly she led the Nene Valley challenge, leaving the entire men’s team trailing in her wake.
With the English National Cross-Country Championship just two weeks away, the Stamford-based speedster is in the type of form which should help to cement her growing reputation on the national scene.
The points system employed by the Frostbite League, where the first seven men and the leading trio of ladies from each club score, means that a strong ladies squad is key.
Not wishing to disappoint, Nicky Morgan, on her 46th birthday, and Chloe Pavey finished among the leading ladies - they were 74th and 144th overall respectively - adding valued support to Foley-Wray’s heroics for the Harriers.
The race winner was London-based Werrington Joggers ace Anthony Johnson in what was his last outing for the club before joining Kent AC. The departing ‘jogger’ covered the hilly, muddy and windswept five-mile course in an impressive 27:19.
That was a full 20 seconds ahead of Yaxley’s James Mogridge, who he pulled clear of mid race.
PACTRAC’S Paul Vernon won the second and third races in the series but was beaten into third place at Bourne a further 24 seconds back.
Simon Hearty of Yaxley, Werrington’s Paul Halford and Ben Heron from Eye also made the top 10, as did Bourne Town Harrier Jonathan Palmer, whose 29:23 time was good enough for ninth.
Bourne Harrier Cameron Everist in his first season of senior Frostbite running was 13th a remarkable achievement in itself but as one of those athletes who lost their footing and fell, it could have been even better. Another athlete in his first season of senior running, Scott Taylor finished in 28th place in a time of 31:19. Steven Sheppard was two places behind in a time of 31:35.
Phil Galpin finished in an excellent 43rd place and Tony Gilbert finished in a time of 33:49 in 55th position.
Phil Parker was 139th in a time of 37:27. Brian McLean broke the 40 minute barrier by finishing in 170th and a time of 39:03. Ross Bentley-Davis was just the other side of the 40 minute barrier in 202nd and a time of 40:18.
Richard Lomas-Brown and Mark Wade finished in 210th and 212th positions respectively. They were followed by Mick Bates in 253rd.
Sarah Leadbetter was the second lady Harrier in 284th and a time of 45:06. Richard Pearson was four places further back in a time of 45:25. Ayla Smith was 320th in a time of 48:02.
In his first season of Frostbite running, Roy James was 324th in a time of 48:19. David Grace capped off a great team performance in 362nd place.
Despite owing much to their ladies, the victorious Nene Valley team could not afford any slips from their men.
And they did not disappoint, with Mike Chapman, Nathan Tweedie, Lee Harthill, Drew Warnes and James McDonald grouping well for top 40 finishes.
Rachel Gibbs of Werrington Joggers was second lady home, over two minutes behind the outstanding Foley-Wray, with Bourne’s Claire Steels third.
Sarah Overington of Eye continued her fine start to the year coming home as fifth lady, two places ahead of Nene Valley’s second scorer Morgan. Nene Valley’s victory on the day cemented their fifth place in the standings, two positions behind Werrington Joggers, who were second local team in fourth position.
With just one race to go in the series, Hunts AC appear to have an unassailable advantage, but good performances from Nene Valley or Werrington could see either club in contention for the runner-up spot.