Athletics: Busy weekend of X-Country for Harriers

THURROCK Harriers from young to old had a successful day at the second round of the Essex Cross-Country League at Basildon’s Gloucester Park.

Teenager Gemma Holloway once again stole the headlines by claiming back-to-back league wins, outsprinting Cambridge’s Claire Wilson to win the under-17/20 women’s race.

It proved to be a good warm-up for Holloway who this weekend will take part in the second British Cross Challenge of the season in Liverpool.

The event doubles up as the trials for the European Cross-Country championships with Holloway’s race being used by GB selectors to decide which juniors to take to Belgrade in Serbia.

She will be joined in Liverpool by former Thurrock Harrier Tom Richardson, from East Tilbury, who will be looking to impress in the under-20 men’s race.

Elsewhere at the Essex League in Basildon, the boys under-13 team showed their potential, finishing second in the team standings.

They were led home by Jack Exley in fifth place, gaining his first Essex vest in the process, with Reece Scott not far behind in seventh. Making up the team were Harry Parker in 13th place and Harry Newell in 18th.

Hayley Instance finished a fine ninth in the under-13 girls place, helping the Harriers team finish fourth overall. Heather Peters was next in for the Harriers in 22nd place, with Lucy Ball 32nd and Amy Raven 39th. Just outside the scoring team was Rhiannon Ryan in 43rd spot.

In the under-15 girls, Brooke Mensah ran well to finish in 16th place not far behind her William Edwards School team-mate Gemma Archer-Hayley, who runs for Havering Mayesbrook and was 11th. Harrier Elle Smith was 35th.

Sam Smith (18th) and Will Slaughter (22nd) were the two Harriers taking on the Basildon course in the under-15 boys race while Gary Cahill was 22nd in the under-17 men’s competition.

Behind Holloway in the under-17/20 women’s race was Chaima Allali and Kira Meredith who finished 12th and 13th.

First home in the senior men’s race was Alex Houghton in 33rd place. Houghton has found work schedules interfering with his training so this performance should give him much needed encouragement. Scott Rice was 46th in the race and fourth V40 veteran as he sets his sights on the county veterans’ championships in two weeks time. John Green, who looks to have recovered from the Berlin Marathon, finished in 56th place. Eamonn Shelley was third in the 50+ age section in 79th place while making the team for the first time was Anthony Tobin who can be delighted with his 82nd placing. Completing the team, who finished 10th overall, was Don Lawless in 85th place.

All the Harriers’ veterans appear to be in good form for their upcoming championships. These include Chris Hardy competing in his first race for several years who was one place behind Don Lawless in 86th place, and the fast improving Mark Cable who was 98th. Mick Bumstead won the V60 section finishing 112th. Other finishers in the 230 strong field were: Jon Metcalf 102nd, Martin Mack 113th, Mark Tobin 128th, Gary Cahill 140th, Nigel Instance 155th, Bernie Johnson 169th, Steve Kemp 190th, Mohammed Allali 215th.

A great run came from Jodie Farrell in the women’s race. She was 34th in the 103-strong field but was first in the FV45+ age group. The only person in front of her was Colchester’s nationally ranked Margaret Deasy. Sam Cox showed all her fighting spirit to finish 47th and Sarah Eves was 70th.The women were also 10th in their race.

l TWO other athletes were in action over the weekend. Pat Dobbs won the Southern Counties Veterans Championship 10 mile race held in conjunction with the Epsom 10. His time was 75m37s. This added another gold medal to Dobbs’ already vast collection of trophies.

Team management were glad to see David Johnson bring his 10k time down to 35m38s. This was in the Leeds Abbey Dash, a very fast race that attracts a huge field.

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