X-Country: Harriers battle through the mud at Essex Champs

CONDITIONS at the Claybury venue for the Essex Cross Country Championships were as bad as they could be. Constant rain turned the already muddy conditions into a quagmire.

However 45 of Thurrock Harriers athletes braved the conditions. The club were represented in all 8 categories and ended with a haul of 19 medals. One of the 2 individual winners was Gemma Holloway in the under 20 women’s category. She ran superbly to beat long standing rival Gemma Tuckfield by 50 seconds. The other winner was Harry Parker in the under 13 boys section. He had a tough 3 way battle in his race but held on strongly to earn this prestigious victory.

Harry, who is qualified to run in this age group next year, led his team to silver medals. Theo Adesina raised many eyebrows with his run to finish 5th. Theo is considered to be a multi eventer by his coaches but this excellent run earned him a County call up. Finley Lowe was 14th, his best run of the season and the consistent Ben Prior closed in the team in 22nd place. This excellent squad has great strength in depth. On Saturday Mason Hambleton was 31st, Henri Willett came 33rd and Alfie Furzedonne was 48th. There are several other talented athletes waiting in the wings who were unable to run on Saturday.

Thurrock’s other individual medalist was Hayley Instance who pushed her diminutive frame into the bronze medal position in the under 13 girls group. Like the boys they have good strength in depth with Keira Scott 11th, Holly Dowsett-Ward 12th and Demi Briggs 23rd – all 3 running to form and winning silver medals. Amy Raven 30th, Stevie Crichell 31st provide reassuring reserve strength.

Two more sets of medals came Thurrock’s way. The under 15 boys put in a solid shift to earn bronze medals. Jack Exley raised his game superbly to finish 8th and was backed by excellent performances from Taylor Newell 15th, Reece Scott 27th and Sarab Dhillon 29th.

The under 17 mens team also braved the sticky ground to secure bronze. Jodie Meredith toughed it out to finish 17th, Gary Cahill (Junior) ran his best in 19th place, Sam Smith was a solid 23rd whilst Oliver Mann, still inexperienced in such conditions, rounded off the team’s effort to finish 27th.

Alec Finch was the Club’s only representative in the competitive under 20 men’s age group where he finished 11th. Another lone wolf was Brooke Mensah who should be pleased with her 12th place in the under 17 women’s category.

The senior men’s team was a very respectable 9th. Alex Houghton impressed to finish 28th, David Johnson returned from his home in the north east to finish a very satisfactory 43rd, Scott Rice was 55th, Don Lawless, a V50, had a great run in 75th spot, Nick Trencher 107th and Jon Metcalf 110th completed the A team. For the first time for many years Thurrock finished a B team who filled 18th spot. Gary Cahill 126th, Mick Bumstead 129th, Iain Scott 146th, Paul Mitchell 151st, Nigel Instance 158th, Bernie Johnson 164th, and returning to competition after 10 years absence, John Chambers 180th.

The women’s team were 12th. Toni Noble 33rd, Jodi Farrell 45th, Amy Trencher 50th, and Charlotte Edwards 84th found the mud not to their liking but fought gamely to achieve good positions.

This weekend the 4th round of the Essex Country Cross Country League takes place at Chingford. The usual format applies and Thurrock should be well represented in all age groups.

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