News from Congleton Harriers
The club’s cross country aficionados had a nervous wait all week to see if the storms and the incessant rain would impact the pinnacle of their season — the English National Cross-Country Championships, which this year saw a return scheduling at Wollaton Park in Nottingham (writes Nick Budd).
They needn’t have worried; while emergency parking arrangements had to be put in place by the organisers, the only other impact from the weather was to turn some rather large muddy puddles into larger muddy lakes.
The nice thing about the nationals is that while it attracts the elite runners of all ages (rumours were going around that the Brownlee brothers were to put in an appearance) it is also open to mere mortal club runners. The distances are more challenging, though with the course being a couple of miles longer than those experienced in regional events. The large number of entrants also make the start a superb spectacle. With 990 entrants in the women’s event and 1,710 in the men’s, both starts resembled a charge from Agincourt, albeit without the weaponry.
There were five female Harriers in the five-mile women’s race, which saw them run three laps of the park with each lap being slightly longer than the previous. On top of the muddy lakes, the organisers saw fit to add in some fallen trees to make it more of a steeplechase and some sections of energy-sapping glutinous mud to halt the runners in their tracks.
Michelle Stevens had a storming run and was 351st in 45.38, Jo Moss was 534th in 49.40, Lucy Rusbridge was 570th in 50.35, Sarah Proudmore (her first outing in one of these events) was 609th in 51.32 and Polly Kennerley was 634th in 52.23.
There were four male Harriers at the start of the 7.5 mile men’s race which followed the same route as the women with one additional loop. The race was about 2-3 weeks too early for Chris Moss who, returning from injury, was under strict physio instruction to limit his time and distance, which meant he ran a premeditated three of the four laps before halting.
Out of the remaining three Harriers, Bryan Lomas had the best run, finishing 659th in 57.15 (all the additional Manchester cross-country events he has entered this season clearly paying dividends), Adam Powell, running with a dicky knee, was 1,534th in 75.26 and Nick Budd had an enjoyable run to finish 1,580th in 77.36.
All the Harriers chose to stay over in various locations across the East Midlands and relax, except for Michelle Stevens who had decided to double down by entering the Leicestershire Half Marathon on the Sunday.
Stevens is in good form at the moment and showed no ill effects from the cross-country as she set a half marathon pb, taking over three minutes off her previous time. She finished 347th out of 1,169 runners in 1.46.48.
On Sunday, the club hosts the Cloud nine fell race which sets off at 11am on the Biddulph Valley Way. It heads up over the Cloud and back down. Anyone out for a walk on Sunday and in the area is welcome to stop by and give the runners a cheer.
● The club welcomes new members with club training runs on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Anyone thinking of joining but are unsure of their pace and ability to keep up should consider the Monday runs, which are now being tailored to accommodate new prospective members. Find full details on the Congleton Harriers website, congleton-harriers.co.uk