Athletics: Harriers struggle in the mud at Essex Champs

THE turnout for the 4th round of the Essex Cross Country Championships at Chingford on Saturday was a very depleted one, a backlash from the previous weekend’s demanding County Championships. However those who appeared tackled yet another very muddy course.

Three of the County medalists in the boys under 13s race took the week off from competition but the team of 5 that replaced them on Saturday managed a very creditable 6th place. Led by Leon Wheeler, not a regular competitor due to the demands of his swimming and triathlon skills, was an excellent 5th. Ben Prior (29th), Mason Hambleton (31st) and Henri Willett (43rd) showed signs of having the previous weekend’s efforts still in their legs. However the debut of James Mack in 36th spot was very pleasing.

The seniors were the 9th team which is as well as they have done in the previous matches so far this season. Alex Houghton (24th) led the squad – an inspiration as always. Don Lawless confirmed his bronze medal postion in the V50 section with another strong run in 51st place. Jon Metcalf, reliable as ever, ran smoothly into 65th place. Mick Bumstead, not a man for the mud, ploughed round in 90th place. Bernie Johnson in 111th showed that he is in his best form. Returnee John Chambers completed the team in 121st place. Guest runner Drew Nichols was 120th.

160 runners started the race. Thurrock’s other 2 competitors were Sarab Dhillon whose 25th position was a pb in the under 15 boys. Luke Strudwicke in 28th also produced a pb in the under 17 mens.

This weekend many of the Club’s young athletes will be competing in the Essex Schools Championship. The venue has now changed to Hilly Fields, Colchester based at the Helena Romanes School.

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