The first National Cross Country Championship of the winter the relays came back to Berry Hill Park Mansfield at the weekend with clubs from across the country competing at all age groups from Under 13 to senior. The competition was fierce and at times brutal as the clubs battled for glory. Mansfield Harriers managed to get its best entries for years with 6 senior and 8 age group teams competing also gaining glory in the Under 17 ladies event as they took a phenomenal bronze medal.

Mansfield Under 17 ladies have become exceptionally strong over the last year and were confident of being in the chase for medals however the week before the race opening leg runner Libby Coleman was on her sick bed and certainly not running on the Tuesday before. However, she made enough of a recovery to take out the opening leg for Mansfield showing true grit to bring the team home in 10th place in a time of 9.15 for the 2.5K distance. Amber Scott had the race of her life on the second leg moving the team up to 6th position with a superb 9.26 looking very strong throughout. Under 18 commonwealth game representative Anna Smith took out the anchor leg 20 seconds behind the third place team and as they went into the woods was still the 20 seconds behind the medal position but had moved up to 4th. Her relentless pace started to grind down the Rotherham athlete in third place and she caught her with about 300 metres to run and surged on to finish 9 seconds in front of her and only 6 from silver as she ran one of the fastest times of the day.

Mollie Scott was very unlucky not to be selected for the first team and she showed great team spirit and resolve as she stormed around the first leg in 9.21 to bring her team home in 15th. Jessie Crawshaw has become a real asset to the team recording 10.11 on the second leg and last minute replacement Daisy Smith ran a great third leg to bring the team home in 48th.

Mansfield Under 13 girls continue to get stronger and fielded three complete teams at the event. The first team finished in 60th  in the 2K race and with all three able to compete next year in the age group was a fantastic result. Beth Hamilton was first out and felt some of the brutality of the start line to record 8,42, Ruby Milnes 8.57 and Alex Foster who had the run of the day at this age level racing to 8.35. For the B team Grace Manson had her best run of the winter with 8.51, Sophie Toyn 9.35 and Olivia Barrett in her first run of the winter 9.05 as the team placed 79th. The C team came home in 103rd place with Ava Blake recording 9.29, Amelia Shackleford 10.14 and Emma Greasby 11.13.

In the Under 17 boys race England International Luke Duffy opened his winter with a very pleasing performance as he raced to 6th place with a time of 9.15 on what is not his premier surface to compete on. Dylan George ran 10.18 on the second leg and the team was made up by recent new member Nathan Ellis. The Mansfield Under 15 boys placed 77th with another athlete Ben Smith making his winter debut going of hard and finishing in 23rd place with 6.48 but will be looking for more with races under his belt. Sam Bentley ran 7.46 on the second leg and Joel Whittaker -Naylor 8.23 on third leg. Disaster struck in the Under 13 boys with first leg runner Jake Orr being tripped at the start and unable to continue, however the two other runners Cole Beck and Harry Wilkinson were allowed to compete in an incomplete team.

The Mansfield lady’s A team placed 63rd in the 3k race with Bev Armstrong recording 12.38, Helen Pritchett 13.36 and Kahli Johnson 12.46. The lady’s B team finished in 89th with Sharon Armitage racing to 14.39, Sarah Bradbury 14.43 and Alice Mortiboy anchoring the team with 13.07. The C team were 103rd with Jackie Duers 15.36, Karen Kowalski 15.30 and Helen Hardy 13.46.

In the men’s race the A team ran well for 80th place with Jordan Boam having one of his best runs to date out first recording 18.24 for the 5K distance with Mark Johnson 17.57, Neil Cope 19.12 and Chris Monk 20.06. The B team placed 98th with Andy Wetherill showing a return to form with 19.21, Gary Morley 20.17, Martin Fickling 20.03 and Steve Capewell 19.12. Alan Kemp was first out for the C team returning after illness to run 22.13, Jack Cooke 20.26, Matt Bradbury 21.45 and Shaun Middleton 24.23 as the team placed 147th.

Running for Birmingham University in the Under 20 race Mansfield athlete Alex Rieley had a superb run on the second leg to record 9.08 for the 3K and bring his team home in 2nd as they went on to place 7th overall.

Several athletes travelled to the Dovetail Dash on Sunday a difficult 4.75 mile cross country event in the dales made even harder with the recent rain. First Mansfield athlete back was Martin Fickling with 35.41 followed by Graeme Baguley 42.02, Sarah Bradbury 53.58, Ben Breider 59.32, Angela Purdue 60.37, Troy Revill 63.41, Gary Towle 65.09, Jess Breider 65.30, Vick Faulkner 66.48, Jim Breider 69.12, Carol Fickling 69.12, Tina Copcutt 69.43 and Julie Winter 77.16.

Report by Richard Massey, Coach and Press Officer.

Pictures below are of the three young ladies and in the medal presentation picture left to right Amber Scott, Libby Coleman and Anna Smith