Red Rose Cross Country League,Leigh Sports Village,Saturday 11th October 2014

Autumnal sunshine greeted the hundreds of competitors who embarked on the first of this four race series which began at New Madely Park the home of Leigh Harriers.

The summer may be all but gone but it was clinging to the wreckage for possibly one last hurrah and despite the heavens having the equivalent of an Everything Must Go sale during the week with the rain being heavier than an Elephant and lasting longer than a Leonard Cohen song it did benefit in that the sting was certainly taken out of the ground on the grass areas of the course which was the same one used when I reviewed the GMCC races here in January.

Ground wise at the start finish area I thought after walking it that it was good with heavy patches down the woodside next to where the runners went out into the country,this would have due to the rain rolling slowly down the side during the week and a few puddles where noticeable but evidently safe and raceable.

It was the usual two laps of field before the racers went their respective routes guided by the Marshall’s and volunteers who as usual did a sterling job keeping the route clear.

It was a six race event with a few races all merged into one with various categories all going on at once.

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Twenty five clubs are eligible for this series although a few guest runners took part but the results did not count for them.

12.15pm was the first race of the day with the U11B event over 2km which became a demolition job for the Horwich RMI Harriers who had six in the first ten home although only the top three were needed for the team event, Nathan Lancaster was the appropriate first one home in 9m36s, lying in third going out into the country he was first turning for home and was seven seconds ahead of Leigh runner Coel Mellor and he in turn was four infront of Jackson McKay from Clayton le Moors H.

Their was one slight incident during the start when the boys did one lap extra of the field so about 300-400m extra was covered

Team Result, Horwich 10pts,Leigh 2nd with 35 and Bury 3rd with 50

After the Boys came the U11G over 2km which resulted in a quick double in this age range for the Horwich girls as Ella Pendlebury made up significant ground after being fourth when completing the laps of field to overtake early pace setters Faye Bayman,Melissa Ince and Emily Brown as the went into the small lap, coming to the business end Ella Pendlebury had three seconds over Melissa Ince for Leigh in second and eight seconds over Emily a Brown for Rochdale in third in a winning time of 8m.26s

Team Result, Leigh 15pts,Horwich 20pts,Blackburn 43pts.

Below,U11G before the off.

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U13B came up next over 2.5km and an all the way win here for Benjamin Preddy although he runs for Blackpool who aren’t in this series but he had a tight finish in his time of 9m.02s, he was two seconds ahead of Benjamin Forest of Bury,in turn he had a healthy advantage over Lewis Wilkes of Horwich and for the host club Ben McLaughlin who is probably better known for his track exploits came fourth.

Team Result, Leigh 19pts,Bury 28pts,Horwich 30pts.

Below,U13B

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The U13G race followed over 2.5km and Leigh got on the scoresheet after a few near misses under Keely Hodgkinson,she put up a bold display of front running over the two field laps then going out into country, Hacking up in a time of 9m.38s she was never going to be overtaken, her nearest rival was Chantelle Johnson from Moston & District but her time of 9m.50s was never going to be brought down, Alice Tonge ran third for Bolton and she had to work for that seeing as she was fourth after the field laps.

Harriet Vaughan for Bury ran a cracker in fifth, passing me going out into Pennington Flash I didn’t spot her in the top eight so picked a good few off In the end.

Team Result, Moston & District 25pts,Bolton United Harriers 29pts,Bury 37pts

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After these four races it then went on to the mixed race comprising of the U15B and U15G both over 4km which went off at the same time,with fields of 40 and 42 it made sense to do this on the day.

Marcus Dey for Bury who have a really huge stable of talent regarding runners got the better of early leader Joshua Boyle for local Lanky rivals Blackburn,his wining time of 13m19s was enough from Boyle in 13m.38s, Josh Whitehead held his position of third all the way round.

Despite the win Leigh took the team event by getting four in the top ten.

Team Result,Leigh 18pts,Bury 25pts,Oldham & Royton 32pts

In the U15G race we had a finish that epitomised the old saying that it’s not over till it’s over, heading out into the Flash on lap one we had a group of three,athletes Phoebe Small,Maddie Elliot and Ella Moulding were taking them along and coming to the bridge section next to the Atherleigh Way bypass which took them into the LSV area with about 500m to go roughly Small of Rossendale H just lead Moulding who was running for Lytham as a guest but on the run down to the final turn Ella Moulding finally overtook Small and just clung on to victory in a time of 15m26s just one second ahead of Phoebe Small, these two were thirteen seconds ahead from Eve Williams of Leigh

For me this was the race of the day,to see two athletes slug it out wether it be on the track or country is what racing should always be about.

Team Result,Rochdale 19pts,Bolton United Harriers 27pts,Blackburn 29pts

A real mixed event next as we had U17M,U17W,U20W and the Senior and Veterans Women’s race all go at the same time and over the same trip of 5km

U17M went to Nathan Townsend from Horwich,his time of 19m.03s was a huge lead over Jordan McDonald for his club Clayton Le Moors in 19m.41s although he was only three seconds ahead of Sam Wardle for Leigh in third, Only eight took part and as Bolton United Harriers ran two they take the team event with 24pts and were the only team involved.

U17W had twenty two in it and Sophie Whittaker of Bury took this one,21m.41s was her time and had plenty in hand over Sophie Hill of Moston in second place and third went to Amy Howatson of Bolton UH.

Team Result,Bury 16pts,Rossendale 25pts,Bolton UH 27.

U20W race was taken by the Leigh Harrier Leah Peploe in 22m.29s with Hannah Shaw and Sabrina Walley taking second and third respectively.

The team result only had one club involved in Rossendale as they had three in the top ten home.

Senior Women’s race were led home by Joanne Nelson who also took the Veterans race at the same time which meant it was almost Jo Pavey like, Joanne was always leading this and came home in 20m.46s for her club Darwen Dashers, Carly Needham made up plenty of ground to come second in 21m.22s for Rochdale and Leigh’s Sarah Griffiths was a respectable third in 21.28s and she managed to keep at bay Christina Singleton in fourth just two seconds behind her.

143 set off in this and just like the GMCC races special mention must go to someone in four runners from Burnden Road Runners of Louise Geoghegan,Joanne Darby,Diane Morrison and Gillian McGowan who all went at their own pace and had a nice jog round coming home in the same time of 42m.30s, They may not of been the fastest but again it showed the Corinthian spirit to sport and it was good to see them compete for the love and enthusiasm of wanting to do it.

Team Result Senior,Leigh 23pts,Bury 32pts,Darwen 36pts

Team Result Vets,Darwen 31 pts,Clayton le Moors 34,Burnden RR 42pts.

And so the last races with 10km the distance for the Senior and Vet Men’s race with the U20M race too.

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246 took part in this race over 10km, in the Senior Men Thomas Carson for Horwich made all the running here but he didn’t have an easy lead that’s for sure,heading into the country for the final time he had the attentions of guest runner Ben Russell from Liverpool right behind him but he had enough in the tank to record a victory in 35m.55s which was just four seconds ahead from Russell, Third went to Rossendale Harrier Chris Fell,Jonathan Kay of Bolton UH made a few positions up to get fourth as did Gary Shaw of Burnley for fifth place.

Below, Thomas Carson going over the bridge.

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The stragglers head out for another lap.

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Thomas Carson comes down victory lane.

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Gary Shaw who was fifth all together was the first Veteran home so took that division and was well clear from Mat Nutall and John Knowles.

Team Result Senior,Rossendale 85pts,Blackburn 148pts,Leigh 183pts

Team Result Vets,Blackburn 38pts,Burnden RR 64pts,Todmorden 99pts.

Some good racing then here in Leigh as the Red Rose series is underway, the next three meetings are at as follows.

Sat 8th Nov,Chorley
Say 22nd Nov,Bolton (Leverhulme Park)
Sat 6th Dec,Rossendale

More information can be found at http://www.redrosecrosscountry.co.uk/index.htm

I would heartily recommend a day at one of these, Cross Country racing can be very exciting to watch in autumn and winter, It might not have the glamour of the Diamond League but what you will see is sport at it’s rawest and grittiest, Lots of athletes working hard and battling through tough conditions and field sizes of very varying quantities.

Until next weekend at Cheltenham when the NH cranks up a bit thank you reading and please RT the site as much as possible,Thank you.

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