Last weekend saw the first regional championship of the year, the Midland Counties Cross Country Championship take place at a wet, and in at places muddy Wollaton Park in Nottingham. The event saw top class athletes in all the fields and for many of the younger Mansfield Harriers athletes one of the strongest fields they will have competed in to date.

First race of the day was the Under 17 girls race and the strong Mansfield team went into the event hopeful of medals in a very competitive field that included the English Schools 800 metre champion. Libby Coleman was outstanding throughout close to the front all round the first lap and at the end of the lap was clear with Emily Williams from Kettering the English Schools champion with Amber Scott 4th and Mollie Scott in 11th. At the start of the second lap Coleman put in a ferocious kick which she never relented from coming home first and Midland champion in a time of 18.47 for the 5K course and a 19 second victory. Amber Scott had a superb run just getting caught before the line to finish 5th in 20.00 and Mollie Scott showed great strength for 14th in 20.47. The three combined to take a superb silver medal in the Midland Championship team event.

The Under 17 boys race was a 6K affair and track star Luke Duffy had hopes of a medal in another stacked field. At the end of the first lap Duffy was in a leading pack of 6, but halfway around the lap England Cross Country International and eventual winner Connor Bentley from Stoke broke the field up and for the rest of the race Duffey was in a two-way race for silver with Oliver Rouse of Charnwood. In a desperate sprint to the line the Mansfield star took a tremendous silver after a great run in 20.47 against the 20.49 for Rouse. In the same race Dylan George started and in hindsight should not have due to picking up an infection and took the wise decision to pull out
Mansfield had two Under 15 boys competing and first home for the club was Ben Smith placing an excellent 14th with 14.38 for the 4K course. Chasing the leading group Smith showed great determination and is going to be a massive talent going forward. In his first race at this level Sam Bentley had a great run moving through the field throughout the race for 59th in 15.46.

All Mansfield’s Under 13 athletes were running at this level for the first time. Racing over 3K Alex Foster was the clubs first girl home, having a spectacular fall halfway through the second lap but still managed to place 44th in a time of 13.50. Olivia Barrett was close behind in 14.04 for 58th which was a fantastic run after struggling for nearly a year with a growth spurt, Grace Manson ran well for 81st in 14.39 as did Sophie Toyn 89th in 15.02, with the team finishing in 11th place. The only under 13 boy was Jake Orr who had a great race for 64th in 13.31.
Four Mansfield ladies make the start line with fantastic runs from Kahli Johnson 75th and Bev Armstrong 99th to make the top 100. Sharon Armitage placed and 185th and most importantly 
Tina Copcutt placed 245th to complete the team that placed 24th.

Report by Richard Massey, Coach and Press Officer.

Picture below is Libby Coleman our Under 17 Midland Champion in recent competition.