Prestwold Hall just outside Loughborough was the venue for the Midlands Cross Country championship on the 28th January and Mansfield Harriers took a small team to the event and were rewarded with two championship medals.  The course was a true test of cross country after a downpour the night before with mud and heavy patches throughout.

Leading the way for Mansfield was 17 year old Archie Rayner who took a silver in the under 20 men’s race. In a very strong field Rayner was competing against two England internationals in Tom Mortimer from Stroud and Will Richardson from Birchfield and the three broke away quite early from the pack. Mortimer stole a march on the second lap to take the race and Rayner forged ahead of Richardson in the last 2k of the 8k race to take second. Alex Rieley continued his run of great form also grabbing a top ten spot in 8th position. Rieley is currently in heavy training as he gets ready for the British University championships next week.

Luke Duffy has made a name for himself on the track with some fantastic performances over the last two years and now appears to be showing the same potential over the cross country discipline. Still the bottom year of the two year age group he had his best race on the terrain to date finishing in the bronze medal position and first back from his school year. Duffy was in the main pack throughout the race and as the race hotted up on the final lap surged through the field to take his medal.

Katie Lancaster has had an excellent winter and put in another strong performance in the Under 17 ladies race. Moving through the field throughout Lancaster came home in 38th place. Jordan Boam was the only Mansfield competitor in the senior men’s race and it turned out to be a particularly difficult race as the advertised distance of 12k ended up being 15 kilometres. Boam stuck to the task throughout placing 138th out of the 377 finishers.

One of the highlights for Mansfield over the last year has been the resurgence of the club’s ladies section and yet again they completed a team with five athletes competing. Bev Armstrong was first home just breaking into the top 100 placing 91st followed by Jackie Duers 143rd, Karen Kowalski 165th, Kaddy Collinge 172nd and Jemma Arbon 182nd.

Jonny Lowe competed at the Sheffield festival of athletics at the English Institute of Sport racing in the 800 metres. Lowe has come back to track racing after 30 years away and has made a massive impression on his age group. He recorded another personal best running 2.14.58 a time that currently puts him 1st in the UK over 50 rankings at the event.

The previous week the Mansfield juniors had competed at the final Sportshall event of the winter. Both the Under 11 girls and boys both took 3rd overall which was a superb performance, the Under 15 girls came in a magnificent 2nd and the highlight for the club was the performance of the Under 13 girls who dominated throughout and claimed the title.

On the day the club had 20 athletes compete with Under 11 Tammy Smith taking female athlete of the match. The quality of Mansfield’s athletes was superb throughout the season with seven girls and two boys making the top 20 rankings for the season.  The outstanding Tania Smith was ranked number 1 overall for the girls with Jess Lake 3rd, Ellie Sheppard 4th, Sophie Brown 8th, Tammy Smith 9th, Grace Manson 11th Katie Kemp 14th, for the boys Matthew Young 7th and Jake Orr 13th.

5th February News.

The Nottinghamshire Schools Cross Country Championships were held at Wollaton Park over the weekend and Mansfield Harriers had a good contingent of athletes running after qualifying through the respective district schools events. The club had another fantastic day of competition with three individual winners out of the 10 events, a second place and a good representation qualifying to race for the County at the national finals in March.

Leading the way for Mansfield was Archie Rayner who celebrated his England call up by dominating the senior boys race from gun to tape. Always in control throughout the 7200 metre course he won by over a minute from his nearest rival.  An under par Matt Buchan still suffering from a heavy cold struggled throughout the race but showed great determination to place 8th and qualify for the county team.

Luke Duffy continues his fine winter over the country taking the inter boys race after a tactical race. Duffy’s closest rival pushed the pace for the first 4000 metres of the 5900 metre race but in the last mile Duffy surged away to take the title.

One of the highlights of the winter has been the emergence of a very strong Under 11 girls team and the girls were racing in the year 5 and 6 race. Beth Hamilton completed the county AAA and schools double like Rayner and Duffy after surging away in the last 200 metres. Alex Foster also had another marvellous run qualifying in 5th place and the third Mansfield runner Grace Manson placed 32nd. Mansfield’s Under 11 boys are now going from strength to strength and they put in superb runs on Saturday in the boys year 5 and 6 race.  Newcomer Oliver Bullough was first home in 5th, closely followed by Matthew Young in 6th and Jake Orr in 9th. And all three will be looking to represent the county.

Bethany Williams came 2nd in the senior girls race, recovering from a bout of tonsillitis only losing out in a sprint finish and will want to reverse the positions in the national final. Not to be outdone by his younger brother Henry Bullough had his best run of the winter to qualify in 7th place in the junior boys race with the diminutive Sam Bentley also put in a seasons best run to place 14th. Katie Kemp had a great run in the junior girls race placing 24th considering she is more used to racing on the track over 100 and 200 metres and this massively over distance for her.

Picture below of Archie Rayner.