Saturday 2nd November saw the English National Cross Country Relays at a wet and windy Berry Hill Park, Mansfield. Bedford and County fielded sixteen teams in five different age categories. We achieved four top twenty finishes, the highlight of which was an outstanding bronze for the Senior Men’s A team. Team Manager Tony Forrest takes up the story:

“Bedford and County AC's Senior Men's squad were in action on Saturday, earning much deserved, but very hard-fought bronze medals in the National Cross Country Relays.

The relay is contested over 4 legs of 5 Kilometres, on a very testing, undulating course that was made even harder due to wet and very muddy underfoot conditions. With almost 200 teams toeing the start line, including outfits from all the top clubs in the country, it is one of the most anticipated events of the season. With Bedford fielding their strongest squad for some years a top 6 placing was considered a realistic target, although a podium place was discounted given the strength of the opposition.

Irish International Matt Bergin got the team off to a flying start, running a very controlled race to come home in 7th place with a time of 16:17. Matt handed over to Jack Goodwin, who wasted no time in chasing down the athletes in front. Fears that he may have started too fast and would pay for his impetuosity later, proved groundless, as he held his form to move the team up to 3rd place, with a time of 16:33. On leg 3, Matt Bray initially gained on the teams in front, but was soon under pressure from two of the finest athletes in the country. He was unable to hold them off, but persevered to catch and pass the early leaders, coming home in 4th place in a very solid 16:59. By this time Leeds City, and Cambridge & Coleridge, were well ahead, and with both having extremely strong final leg runners, they were clearly destined for gold & silver. But the bronze medals were still up for grabs. Bedford and County had Dan Jarvis on the final leg. Although not fully fit due to a recent injury, Jarvis soon eased his way into 3rd place. But concern was rising amongst his watching club mates, as he was chased down by a rapidly closing Aldershot, who had started the leg 25 secs in arrears. Alerted by shouted warnings, Dan began to pick up his pace, but the Aldershot athlete continued to close. As the athletes burst from a section of woodland with 500m to run, the gap was down to less than 5 secs, and closing fast, and it was looking ominous for Bedford. But Dan had it all under control, kicking hard on the uphill finishing straight, to come home in a time of 16:36 to clinch the bronze medals for Bedford by a margin of 5 sec.

Bedford and County’s second string also performed well. Finishing in the top 30 overall, they were the 5th B team home. Led off by a super run of 16:45 by Jono Janes, Ben Alcock performed encouragingly on his return from injury to move the team to 13th place with a fine 17:01. With Richard Henderson and Andrew Headley running 18:52 and 18:26 respectively, the team slipped to a final position of 23rd. Bedford’s C team of Pete Benedickter (17:44), Will Mullins (19:21), Matt Nicholson (18:30) and Chris Thornley ( 18:40) also exceeded expectations, finishing as the 3rd C team in 42nd place overall.

The club's Under 20 Junior men were competing in their own separate 3 x 3 kilometre relay.

They were led off by Harry Brodie, whose excellent leg of 9:21 brought him home in 22nd place. Ed Blythman instantly set about moving the team forward, with his fine run of 9:31 advancing the team to 13th. With 800m specialist Jamie Webster drafted into the team late on, it was expected they would slip a bit. But despite it not being his preferred distance (or surface), Jamie stuck admirably to his task, and was rewarded with an excellent time of 9:55, bringing the team home in a very satisfactory 16th place.”


Steve Janes reports on the Boys teams:

“A hardy group of runners represented the club in wet and windy conditions.

We had an incomplete U13 team of Cameron Barnes and Oliver Wilson who ran 7:37 and 8:21 respectively, excellent runs in the conditions.

The U15s A team came 35th out of 86 teams and were led by Noah Campion (7:15), followed by Chris Brodie (7:48) and Ethan Cairns (8:23). An in-form Euan Supple (7:37) and James Taylor (8:26) made up an incomplete B team.

The U17s had a single team of Callum Webb (11:02) Tristan Cook (10:21) and Alex Alston (11:02). They came a very respectable 34th in a high class field. The relays tested everyone this year with the conditions and it was pleasing to see the level of enjoyment the mud and rain produced. Well done one and all!!”

But it wasn’t just the men who did well. Bedford and County’s women also produced two top-twenty finishes. The Junior Women’s team of Tia Wilson (08:57.45), Josie Smith (09:56.20) and Lauren Nichols (10:19.00) came in a very creditable 13th, with Tia and Josie both achieving top ten times for their 2.5 kilometre legs. And the Under 13 Girls team maintained their excellent winter form to surge into the top ten. Competing over two kilometre legs, lead-off runner Lily Farr put the team into an excellent third position with a time of 7:41.55. Teamates, Lyla Danobrega (8:19.05), and Rosie Foster (8:13.40) both produced competitive legs to bring the girls home in 8th place. Lily’s time was the fifth fastest of the day across all legs.

Congratulations to all those who competed. For a full breakdown of all Bedford and County results, see the Results section.

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