G.M.A.A. Annual Cross Country Championship 2014,Leigh Sports Village

A change from the norm today as football took a back step and with racing being under siege from the weather it was a case of draw up the stumps and have a change of sport.

Today it was a visit down the road to the Greater Manchester Athletics Cross Country Championship races held at the Leigh Sports Village just behind the main rugby stadium at Leigh Harriers home of New Madely Park where runners of all ages and ability turned out to take part.

The course was a mixture of three types,A small lap which began at the main field arena where the start and finishes occur with a small lap of a field before heading out into the country which went on old roads and tracks towards the A579 before turning back towards the start finish area,a medium lap which went into Pennington Flash and was on grass with a larger lap that was used only for the men’s senior contest.

It was a ten race event which got underway at 10.45 but due to various events I missed the first three races but thankfully the results were easy to obtain.

Ground wise the grass in the start area seemed to look heavy and had a fair amount of wear and tear as the afternoon progressed,with some of the road and track going out into the country was very muddy with puddles in places,as for the grass out in the Flash I have no idea as I decided to stay firmly routed at the start and finish area.

Below,Course Map.

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The first of the races which I missed where the U13B race over about 2.75km and 44 went to post with Marcus Dey of Bury AC taking the opener with a time of 9.10 mins and had an eleven second lead over Ethan Glasgow Labad of Oldham and Royston AC in 9.21,Ben Forrest was third for Bury on 9.24, In the team event this meant the Bury A side won with 10 points,Stockport A second with 26 and third spot to the local side Leigh Harriers who got 42 points.

In the U13 Girls which had 52 over the same CD it was Leigh Harriers very own Keely Hodgkinson winning in 9.39 and hung on from second placed Chantelle Johnson in 9.45 and places 3-5 were filled by three Manchester Harriers athletes Alice Stiles,Eleanor Kenny and Grace De Compso which in turn helped them win the team event with 12 points.

Next race which was occurng just as I worked my way onto the venue was the U15B over 3.5km, 22 faced the start here and coming home down Victory Lane was Sam Tarry,the Manchester Harrier had a winning time of 11.59,the race for second was a battle between Sale Harriers Manchester athletes Jake and Adam Spilsbury in which both were separated by one second with Jake getting the upper hand (Are the SHM version of the Brownlee Brothers?) This gave Sale the team event with 13 points.

36 began the first race I saw,the U15G over 3.5km, this was a near domination from Stockport here who had 12 in the line up forming A,B and C teams and of their contingent they filled up seven of the first ten places with a dominant win by Katy Whiteoak in 12.42 with a huge gap to Beth Barlow in the runners up spot in 13.16 with third and fourth both close from Juliet Downs and Lucy Donaghy in 13.27 and 13.29 respectively. Team wise it was Stockport AC’s A team who demolished the opposition like a Fred Dibnah chimney job with 8 points from a remote second of Stockport’s B team who ammased 23 points.

A field of 17 faced the starters pistol for the U17 Men over 5km or 3m1f to all my horse racing fans reading this.

The early running from gunshot to the end of the small lap of the field was being made my Declan Toomey of Bolton United Harriers but heading out on to the large last lap it was Danny Lawton from Trafford AC who held the lead and it was all over bar the shouting here as he did the equivalent of winning on the bridle, his time of 17.11 was a near minutiae ahead of Donnacha Maguire who was second in 18.12 with Benn Heywood from Bury taking third just ten seconds ahead of Callum McCormick for the hosts Leigh Harriers, In the teams the Trafford AC A team took this with 16 points.

Two races in one followed with the U17W and U20W both over 5km, in the U17 a field of 19 ran with just the 5 in the U20.

Below,Off in U17 and 20.

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Below,Out into the country.

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This race was tricky to follow but coming in at the end of the first lap,the small one,Megan Davies of Sale was leading the U20 with Katie Buckley of Sale H Manchester following while behind them the U17 had the early pace being made by Mollie Williams from Stockport AC with team mate Ellen Downs keeping tabs on her,

At the business end by the finish line Megan Davies turned in first for the U20 division as she won her race followed thirty seconds behind by Katie Buckley in second with 20.22,in a distant third was Leigh Harrier runner Bethany Jones 23.14 then fourth Rosa Chrysite Lowe 23.22 in the Stockport colours,finally in fifth and last we had Natalie Thompson for Wigan & DAC 23.57.

The U17 was a simple swap of the first two at the end of lap one, Ellen Downs got the better out In the field to take the scalp of fellow Stockporter Mollie Williams in 20.17 to 20.29, Sophie Hill got third for Moston D H&AC,Leah Peploe got fourth for Leigh and fifth and sixth went to Stockport’s Elizabeth Apsley and Ruth Sinclair which assisted in getting the Team event by making it 8 points to Sale H Manchester’s 25 points back in second.

Three races to go and the smallest single race field of the day came soon after,the U20M event over a distance of 7km,just the 9 in this race.

It was a case of made all and no change in the running order when they passed me the first time round,Jack Nixon continued Stockport’s fine form here today,he had Adam Howard only six seconds behind as the came home in times of 22.16 and 22.24,Jonathan Kay running for Bolton UH got third prize.

Now we get to the two big races of the day,first up is the Senior and Veterans Women’s over the 7km trip,a real mix of runners here of various ages and ability.

No beating around the bush this was a demolition job of epic proportions by Leigh Harriers here with the sort of result that took you back to the days of the Michael Dickinson Gold Cup Five,this race was the Leigh Harriers Four as Laura Riches,Dionne Allen,Sarah Griffiths and Rebecca Howarth filled places 1-4 with consummate ease,coming past first time Laura and Dionne were keeping each other company until at some point out in the county Laura pulled away,Sarah Griffiths was mostly on her own during the race and Rebecca Howarth had to shake off the attentions of two Stockport runners (they get everywhere don’t they!) to make it a 1-2-3-4 for the hosts.

Below,Off and running.

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Below,Passing through the trees.

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For record the winning times where 24.39,24.55,26.02 and 26.12.

In the team race as expected Leigh won handsomely with the A team getting 6 points,the Stockport AC A team could only look and weep with 19 this in turn was a country mile clear from the Leigh Harriers B team who got 42 points.

I want to give a mention to the runner who came last in 43rd,of course somebody has to finish last otherwise it’s not a race and in this it was Jen Delaney of Manchester YMCA Harriers, (I bet you’re all thinking of the dance moves now aren’t you!)

It is very easy for me to sympathise here as my one and only cross country race representing the school in my younger days I came stone bonking last but I carried on to the finish and while it could have been easier to pull up after the first lap I went out and did it so I have a huge amount of respect for her for keeping going to the bitter end, I even made her laugh when she passed me on the first lap as I told her “I’ll try and trip a few up for you” (I didn’t)

It’s the typical Corinthian spirit in action,the good news was that Jen was never lapped by the women’s race or overtaken when the men’s race began,a lovely lady I gave Jen a good round of applause when she arrived at the line,her time was 52.04 which was fourteen minutes behind Bev Tickle in 42nd,that’s not important,what matters is Jen got round which is more than anyone who dares to mock her would have done I bet, Jen if you’re reading this Keep On Running.

Below,Jen Delaney coming to the finish.

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So we come to the final event,The Senior and Veterans Mens Race over the gruelling 11km,Three full laps plus a bit extra of the course.

As the race began two athletes got to the front,Andi Jones of Stockport and Joe Bailey from Salford Harriers,the were both close when they came round at the end of the first lap,Gavin Hill had third spot and this how they finished two laps later in the contest.

Andi Jones recorded a time of 34.13 only thirteen seconds ahead from Joe Bailey 34.36 and Gavin Hill 35.20.

At time of getting the print out 59 runners completed but many were still out in the country so I have no result of the team race prior to this being published.

Below,Under Starters Orders and They’re Off!

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Below,Racing!

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Below,End of the lap of the field.

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Below,Out in the country.

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So an enjoyable afternoon of Cross Country Athletics, proper races for me, I love athletics and this brings it back to its purer form for me,while the big Diamond League events always get plenty of attention this is proper grassroots sport held by what I like to think of as Professional Amateurs, The people involved here do it for the pure love of the sport, sort of like Point to Point and Non League Football, One good thing about XC is you can wander around to various points of the course should you wish and see the running at its hardest as every strain and sinew of the body works the double overtime for the reward.

I shall be at another event in February as I shall be in Sheffield for the British Trials for the World Indoors at the English Institute of Sport, can’t wait for that.

Racing wise all being well shall be Warwick next Saturday for the Grade Two Leamington Novices Hurdle and the Grade Three Classic Chase.

Till then Goodbye and thanks for reading.

Below,Leigh Harriers Senior Women’s A Team with their gongs.

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Below,Leigh Harriers Senior Women 1-2-3.

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