Both Ladies and Men’s senior athletes made the journey to Betley Court, Crewe where the first fixtures of the respective leagues took place on Saturday.
The day started off with a combined race featuring the Ladies 1st and 2nd divisions running together, with RSCAC making its return to the top level following promotion back in the 2019/20 season. This also marked the first ladies cross country race since the sad passing of former team manager and inspiration of the ladies team, Roy Humpherson, which left a big hole in the assembled gathering from the club and brought emotions to the fore for many there on the day.
An enthusiastic team of 8 ladies took to the start line for the undulating two-lap course. With over 340 athletes in the multi-division race and 166 finishers in Div 1 , Olivia Harris led the team home finishing an impressive 30th overall (24th Div 1). Linda O’Connor and Jen Lloyd showed great teamwork on the final lap with only 5 secs between them at the finish. Linda, on her long overdue return to competition, was 87th (Div 1) and 24th (Masters), with Jen 89th (Div 1) and 25th (Masters). Gemma Sidaway brought the scoring team home strongly in 94th place. There were debut performances from Sky Mileto, 99th and Dale Lyons, 128th. Having turned her ankle during the race Annette Belcher showed great courage and commitment finishing 102nd and 34th (Masters). Georgia Delaney returning from injury finished strongly in 138th.
With 7 ladies unavailable for this first race the ladies team is going from strength to strength and the team spirit, support and encouragement both in training and on the race course is testament to Roy’s legacy. The enthusiasm of the ladies team in cheering on the men really added to the occasion.
Following swiftly on from the Ladies race, it was the turn of the men’s team in another combined divisions race covering three divisions with RSCAC taking its place in Division 2.
23 athletes stood on the start line for the club, the largest single turnout for the men in current memory, spanning back over 20 years. In a fiercely competitive race, Ollie Harradence was first home for the club finishing 32nd overall, but 2nd in the second division battle. Excellent debut performances for the club over the country saw Alex Seabridge, David Sutton and Andy Bradley make the scoring 6 along with Barry Lloyd and Richard Naylor rounding off the A team, which finished in 5th place on the day less that 40 points off the promotion places. The strength of the team, reflecting the ever growing training squad, was even more in evidence with the B team comprising of Chris Taylor, Ollie Sheppard, Sam Crawford, John Hayman, Shaun Hemmings and Fred Tremblay finishing in top place in the B team competition.
With other athletes who were unavailable for this fixture due to return for the next race in December, it is hoped that movement towards a promotion place can be made. Other runners making up the 23 were Russel Simpson, Paul Terleski, Dylan O’Rourke, Tom Lloyd, Matt Bennet, Iain Mackie, Josh Hughes and Paul Jenkins. Squad coach and Team manager Steve Marklew was also on hand to provide his usual words of “gentle encouragement” to his athletes around the course, particularly on the last climb to the finish line.
Having both Ladies & Men’s teams at the same venue helped create a great sense of combined team spirit, which was assisted greatly by an awesome array of home made cakes and cookies provided by various of the athletes in attendance and bolstered the post-race celebrations. The good news is that both groups ate together for the next two races so, in the words of the popular TV cooking program, “On your marks, get set, BAKE”