Bedford and County AC claimed a narrow victory in the fourth round of the Chiltern Cross Country League at Keysoe on Saturday, beating chief rivals Milton Keynes by 3421 points to 3392. The club’s Senior, Veteran and Under 20 Men provided the nucleus of a strong performance that that saw the three teams – plus the combined Under 20 / Under 17 Women - win their matches.

The fixture was staged by Bedford and County AC in the wonderful setting of the Keysoe Equestrian Centre. The race incorporated the "watersplash", which again proved extremely popular with both athletes, and the large crowd of cheering spectators. The shark and killer whale luckily proved to be of the plastic variety! With a total of just over 1100 athletes competing across the 10 age group races, from Under 11 Boys & Girls to Senior Men’s & Women’s races, the event was a huge success.

Tony Forrest reports on the Senior, Under 20 and Veteran men:

“Bedford and County's athletes were quickly to the fore of the 350-strong combined Senior, Junior (U20) and Veteran men’s 10.5K race, which took place over 3 laps of the muddy course. As the race settled down, a group of 8 athletes containing Bedford’s Matt Bergin, Dan Jarvis, Harry Brodie, James Minter and Michael Harrison was beginning to move away. At the halfway stage, Bergin and Jarvis had pulled away from the others, and the gap began to grow. As the race moved into the final lap, Bergin upped the pace considerably, to pull away from Jarvis, with Brodie and Minter still battling with 3 other athletes for the 3rd place. Harrison had fallen back slightly and was beginning to come under pressure from Ben Alcock, who like Harrison was returning from a long spell of injury. Matt Bergin eventually ran out a reasonably comfortable winner with a time of 34:55, 22 seconds ahead of his team mate Dan Jarvis (35:17). First year Junior (U20) Harry Brodie again ran magnificently to take 3rd spot in a time of 36:02, with fellow Junior James Minter in 4th with 36:07. Ben Alcock got the better of Michael Harrison, to finish 8th in 36:23 with Harrison 10th in 37:01. They were followed home by Joe Strange 21st (38:27), Sam Knee-Robinson 25th (38:38), Will Mullins 29th (38:50), Craig Emmerson 31st (38:59), Richard Laursen 42nd (39:54), Andrew Headley 44th (40:14), Matt Nicholson 46th (40:26), Tom Powell 48th (40:26), Jamie Webster 55th (41:24), Ewan Wilson 60th (41:31), Peter Deardon 81st (42:58), Stuart Still 96th (44:07), Andy Blair 113th (45:08), Jim Black 120th (45:38), and Tony Alston 202nd (54:32). Bedford won the 10 to score team race, but are still headed in the Division 1 league table by Milton Keynes AC.”

In the Under 17 Men’s division 1 race Alex Alston (21:38) and Tristan Cook (21:54) finished sixth and seventh respectively.

In the combined Under 20 / Under 17 Women’s race, Lucy-Mae Shepherd took the second division 1 spot in 20:08, and this combined with Lauren Nichols’ sixth place (20:41), and Holly Hodgskinson’s tenth position (21:19) to give the team victory. Natasha Peters came fifth (23:41) in the Senior Women’s race, and Alice Burgin (23:52) finished seventh. There were further fourth place finishes from Noah Campion (13:37) in the Under 15 Boys race, and Lilly Farr (11:43) in the Under 13 Girls race. Natalie Simmons (15:08) came seventh in the Under 15 Girls race, and Milly Dunger (12:21) came ninth in the Under 13 Girls race.

With one round to go, our Under 20 Men are top of Division 1, as are the Under 15 Boys. The club’s U17 / U 20 Women move up one place to second – where they are joined by the Senior Men and Under 13 girls. Overall, we remain in second. Although Saturday’s victory closed the gap to leaders Milton Keynes marginally, barring heroics it may be a little too large to bridge in the one fixture that remains.

It’s also worth pointing out the enormous amount of work put in by the club’s volunteers to make this home fixture a success. Bedford and County’s many organizers, team managers, officials, race marshals, and car parking attendants worked tirelessly to pull the event together.

For a full breakdown of all Bedford and County Chiltern League results, see the Results section.

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