One of the highlights of the Cross Country season took place over the weekend, the British Athletics Cross Challenge event at Sefton Park in Liverpool incorporating the European Cross Country Championship trials. High quality fields from across the UK assemble for each race and Mansfield Harriers had a superb eight athletes compete on the national stage in the high class competition on an extremely muddy course.

Racing in the Under 15 boys event Ben Smith put in an excellent run for 36th place, running strong throughout his race and looking like he has improvement in him for the rest of the season. Smith like most of the athletes who competed at Liverpool have a long season ahead of them so have raced sparingly so far this winter with the intention of peaking at the Championship races in the new year.

Another in his first cross country race of the season was Luke Duffy in the Under 17 boys. Although suffering with a cold and looking unlikely to run all week Duffy came out and probably ran one of his best races in this discipline as he placed 7th with again the promise of much more to come. Dylan George also competed in this event and put in a strong run for 72nd.

Alex Rieley started cautiously in a loaded Under 20 men’s race as the event doubled up for GB team selection and showed great resolve throughout the race steadily working his way through the field to finish an excellent 20th place.

Mansfield had four athletes in the Under 17 girls race including the team that had national glory at the relays three weeks ago. On the challenging course it was Libby Coleman who came out on top at Liverpool putting in her trademark performance full of guts and determination to place 11th. Closely following Coleman was Anna Smith who found conditions not to her liking but ran gamely to place 17th. Amber Scott had another great run for the Mansfield club to place 28th and the team was completed by Mollie Scott who also showed great determination and talent to place 39th. National team competitions are four to score and these placings would have been good enough to win a team competition if one was held at this fixture which confirms the Mansfield ladies as one of the strongest in the UK.

On the roads Diane Stewart came back to form with a new personal best of 53.00 at the Doncaster 10k held around Doncaster Racecourse on a cold Sunday morning. In the same race Martin Fickling ran a massive new personal best of 38.12 an improvement of 57 seconds and Jack Cooke improved his best to 40.37 an improvement of 24 seconds and will now be looking to break the 40 minute barrier. Neil Cope was the fastest Harrier on the course recording 36.45 which is an excellent run after suffering from a cold for the last few weeks and will be looking for a sub 36 time in the new year.

Several Mansfield athletes attended the Clowne Half Marathon again in cold and damp conditions on an undulating course. Roy Smith was first athlete home for the club in a time of 1.44.44 closely followed by Shaun Middleton in 1.49.37. Maddy Collinge was first lady home for the club in a time of 1.54.50 which was good enough for 2nd in the over 65 category with both Pete Copcutt 1.55.09 and Karen Kowalski 1.56.26 also under 2 hours. Esther Sinclair raced to 2.04.53 followed by personal best times for Jess Breider 2.21.27, with Vicki Faulkner 2.21.29 and Theresa Copcutt completed the line up with 2.49.39.

Report by Richard Massey, Coach and Press Officer.

Picture below of Ben Smith (491)