Athletics - clean sweep for Vernon but Harriers keep the team title

Frostbite League action.
Frostbite League action.
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Nene Valley Harriers are flying high after retaining the Frostbite League title following a closely fought battle with arch rivals Hunts AC.

The sixth and final round of the 16-club series was hosted by BRJ Running Club at a muddy Hinchingbrooke Country Park on Sunday, and with Harriers holding a slender advantage over Hunts it was all to race for.

Triathlete Paul Vernon, representing the PACTRAC club, maintained his dominance of the series making it a superb six wins out of six.

And he completed his clean sweep in style, leading from the gun and completing the five-mile course in a time of 27:08.

Nene Valley’s Lloyd Kempson followed him home in 28:05 and third place went to Werrington Jogger Anthony Johnson, who finished nine seconds behind Kempson.

With the first seven men and first three women making up the team score - and Harriers being without several of their key female runners - it was essential that the men put in a good showing.

And they certainly did that with all seven of their scoring runners making the top 20.

The rapidly improving Rhys Goddard finished fifth in a time of 28:31, with budding young triathlete Nathan Tweedie also securing a top 10 placing.

The remaining point scorers packed superbly with Jevan Robertson finishing 17th just ahead of Mikey Chapman (18th), Justin Hargate (19th) and Sean Beard (20th).

And the depleted Nene Valley ladies squad responded to the challenge superbly as well. Laura Grimer, Sophie Hargate-Wilkinson and Louise Blake all finished among the top 16 ladies in a race won by Yaxley’s Caroline Woods, with Sam Cullen of Eye Community Runners a close second.

It proved to be enough to give Harriers victory on the day and victory in the series. Hunts AC were a close second at Hinchingbrooke and were also runners-up overall.

Although both clubs have been neck and neck all season, it was the strength in depth of Nene Valley that won the day, especially among the ladies.

The junior race over 2.5 kilometres, which boasted a record field of 216 athletes, was won by Cameron Everist of Bourne AC in a time of 9:19.

Joey Croft of Hunts AC followed him home just nine seconds later with March AC’s Luke Fenner in third place.

The first girl to cross the line was Amy Chalmers of Hunts AC who finished 21st overall.

Nene Valley’s youngsters finished third on the day behind PACTRAC and Hunts AC, and were runners-up in the series to Riverside Runners of St Neots.

The first Harrier home was eighth-placed Nathan Davey who was followed closely by Harry Birchnall (10th).

Matt Church, the grandson of Nene Valley founder member Ray Church, finished 20th with Barry Mace the last scoring male in 27th position. Amber Park completed the scoring team coming home in 32nd position.

Vernon becomes the third runner to win every race in the series. It was first achieved by Stuart Bogg from Werrington in the 1991-92 season and then emulated twice by Pete Galpin from BRJ in both 1998-99 and 1999-2000.