Leamington C&AC’s ladies showed their strength at the Midlands Counties Cross-Country Championships at the weekend, finishing second overall behind Bristol & West AC.
The ladies, who have produced some brilliant results in recent months, fielded a strong team with Kelly Edwards finishing eighth in 31min 48sec on the new course at Newbold Comyn.
Triathlete Megan McDonald (33:04) crossed the line in 17th place with Natalie Bhangal in 30th despite the fact that she ran in road shoes.
The slippery course, with two sharp inclines up Beacon Hill and a stream crossing per lap was tough for athletes donning cross-country spikes but Bhangal took her lack of appropriate footwear in her stride to finish a place and seven seconds in front of clubmate and final medallist Zara Blower (34:37).
Clubmate Jenny Jeeves was a further 11 seconds back to just miss out on a medal.
Kenilworth Runners were seventh, with Sarah Rose running another excellent race to finish 18th in 33:13.
She was backed up by Laura Pettifer (41st in 35:17), Marie Matthews (49th in 36:11) and Melissa Kennedy (81st in 38:09).
Kenilworth also demonstrated their strength in depth with the next six runners finishing within 30 seconds of each other and all inside the top 100.
Spa Striders were able to field full teams in the women’s and men’s events for the first time in several years.
The women finished 16th, led home by Jo Fleming who was 52nd in a time of 36:27.
Fleming was closely followed by Clare Hinton (73rd in 37:36), with Liz Draper (43:01) and Emma Bird (44:33) completing the team counters.
The women’s race was won by City of Stoke’s Katie Holt in 29:38.
The new course, hosted by Leamington C&AC, was deemed a success although Phil Gould, who had been at the venue at the crack of dawn to set it up, found himself busy throughout the day and was understandably tired by the time his race started at 2.30pm.
Nevertheless he ran a strong race to finish 59th overall on the 12k course in 44:39.
Lacking some of their key runners, C&AC’s men finished ninth on the day with Richard Hood 85th in 46:15 and John Knibb 98th in 47:15.
Dean Mawby (119th in 48:31), Joshua Hough (177th in 51:13) and Marc Curtis (186th in 51:36) completed the home counters.
A good team performance from Kenilworth Runners saw them finish sixth of the 30 teams.
Connor Carson (45:17) led them home in 70th position and was closely followed by Andy Crabtree (76th in 45:44).
George Crawford (86th in 46:18)), Dewi Williams (96th in 47:02) and Stanley Doxey (100th in 47:21) also made the top 100, with final counter Matt Dyer crossing the line 108th in 47:56 .
Chris McKeown was 61st in a time of 44:45 as Spa Striders placed 15th.
He was chased home by Adam Notley who was 79th in 45:54.
Steven Taylor (109th in 47:56), Aitor Tudero (116th in 48:19), Gethyn Friswell (204th in 52:47) and Robert Egan (301st in 58:38) made up the scoring six.
The men’s race was won by Cambridge & Coleridge’s Jack Gray in 38:20.
Meanwhile, Kenilworth Runners’ Chris Luntley and Emma Wreford-Bush took part in the Gato Sports Head Torch 10k on the Rugby Greenway on Wednesday January 23.
Wreford-Bush finished 14th overall and second lady in 50:23 and Luntley was 28th in 56:50, surviving a brush with an unidentified woodland creature on the final uphill section.
The race was won by Bedford Harriers’ Mark Radden in 38:52 and of the 105 starters only 85 finished.