“Bedford & County AC’s athletes were in action on Saturday in the South of England Cross Country Championships, which were held at the iconic, and extremely muddy Parliament Hill Fields venue at Hampstead Heath, London. With a somewhat reduced squad, the Senior Men’s team were realistically looking at a top 6 finish rather than the usual podium position. But, with the club’s Junior (U20) men having performed exceptionally well so far this season, hopes were high that they would make the team podium in their 8k race.
After 3k of the Junior race, it was becoming apparent that not only was a medal looking almost a certainty, but that the medal would be gold. Both Harry Brodie and James Minter were lying in the top 10, within range of the leaders, and Alfie Yabsley and Ed Blythman were close behind in the mid teens. In the latter stages, 17 year-old Harry, having the race of his life chased down a breakaway group of 3, catching one of them, to snatch a very well deserved but totally unexpected individual bronze medal recording a time of 26:13 a mere 8 secs behind the winner. Not to be outdone, his team mates were also recording their best ever performances at this level, with James finishing in 8th place (26:47), Alfie 13th (27:14), Ed 16th (27:37) and Richard Laursen 56th (29:32). With a 4 to score total of 40 points, it was Gold to Bedford for the first time in the club’s history. A magnificent performance.
As the 15k Senior Men’s race got underway, it was quickly clear that team medals were out of the question, but nevertheless the team performed very creditably to finish in 5th place of the 158 clubs entered. As so often, the 41 year old veteran Darren Deed led the squad home finishing in an excellent 14th place of the 1,172 finishers with a time of 49:21. Ben Alcock was 32nd in 50:45, John Eves 45th (51:20), Richard Henderson 62nd (52:37), Will Mackay 77th (53:16), Mike Channing 106th (54:22), Craig Emmerson 164th (55:58), Andrew Headley 190th (56:31), and Stuart Still 600th (65:04).”
The Under 13 Girls team continued their fine winter form by claiming the bronze medal at Parliament Hill. Lily Farr performed brilliantly to fight her way to sixth place in the very competitive 3 kilometre race. Lily’s time of 12:47 was only seven seconds behind the winner. She was ably abetted by Rosie Foster (13:33) who finished 32nd, and Milly Dunger (13:35) and Lyla Donobrega (13:39), who finished 33rd and 36th respectively.
The Under 17 Men’s team, racing over 6 Kilometres, managed 18th place, with Tristan Cook (23:50) finishing 30th in the individual race. Lucy-Mae Shepherd (27:56) came 21st in the Under 20 Women’s race, which was also over 6 kilometres. Noah Campion finisehd 24th in the 4.5 kilometre Under 15 Boys race, whilst Cameron Barnes (12:23) finished 28th in the 3 kilometre Under 13 Boys race.
The centre of attention now moves to the English National CC Championships to be held at Wollaton Park, Nottingham on the 22nd February.