By Steve Marklew & Linda O’Connor

Race 3 of the league saw both ladies and men’s teams travel to Burton Dassett. Arriving to a course shrouded in heavy fog, it was a while until the undulating course revealed itself. With slippery cambers and rolling hills it was more akin to a fell race!

A fantastic team of 10 ladies lined up for the gruelling 6km course. U20 Caitlin O’Connor, made a strong start for the team, in her first league XC of the season, following injury. Having negotiated the treacherous descent to the first of the big laps, Olivia Harris made her way through the field over the two big laps to finish strongly. Making their debut in the Senior League, U20’s Lucy Carey and Elsa Buchanan showed great maturity transitioning to the senior league with both having great performances.

The ladies all showed fantastic grit and determination over the unforgiving course, with the sting in the tail being the final long drag uphill to the finish.

Olivia was first home in 47th, followed by Caitlin 72nd (U20 – 16th), Gemma Sidaway 93rd and with Lucy 94th (U20 – 20th) completing the team.

Providing great support to the team and ensuring a sea of Royal Blue on the course were Sky Mileto 107th, Annette Belcher 116th, Jennie Lloyd 118th, Elsa Buchanan 126th (U20 – 24th), Georgia Delaney 134th and the always smiling Dale Lyons 153rd.

The ladies are currently 13th overall and with one race left in the league we are looking forward to a great turnout to secure a second season in Division 1.

Following swiftly on from the Ladies race, the men’s squad faced the same course but over a 10k distance in their 2nd division fixture. Sitting just outside the promotion places in the league following the first two races the pressure was on to make a challenge on the top three positions.

A frantic start saw many of the clubs runners towards the front end of the field, with just under 300 men facing the challenging course. First home was Ollie Harradence in 4th place which sees him remain in overall first position in the overall individual competition, swiftly followed by Dan Floyd (11th) Barry Lloyd (23rd) Alex Seabright (32nd) Andy Bradley (50th) and Richard Naylor (52nd) completing the A team. This meant that they finished in first place out of the 14 clubs making up the division and raised them to second place overall with one fixture remaining.

In a strong show of club strength, the next six runners home for the club, thus making up the B team were Russell Simpson ((62nd) Tony Davies (68th) John Hayman (70th) Chris Taylor (73th), Fred Tremblay (79th) and Alex Blackham (84th). This placed the club as first in the B team competition for the third race of the season and were the only club to score with all 12 scorers inside the top 100 finishers. Also in the top 100 were David Sutton (86th) Dylan O’Rourk (96th) with Paul Terleski (101st) Nick Blunt (128th) Shaun Hemmings (139th) Iain McKie (179th) Dean Lucas (182nd) Josh Hughes (213rd) and Paul Jenkins (223rd) completing the roster for another strong turnout for the club with 21 athletes competing.

With one race left in the season, the club need one final strong performance to gain promotion to the top division and to win the B team competition as well.

Huge thanks must also go to Phil Pollock who did a double-shift in his officiating duties, in very cold conditions, to officiate for both races on Saturday, recording times at the finish.

A great assortment of cakes was presented after the race by Katie and Jenny which were gratefully devoured by both squads. The only disappointment is that the men and ladies race at different venues for their final fixtures, so careful consideration will need to be given to ensuring sufficient rewards are available at BOTH venues.

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