Athletics: Harriers and Huntingdon level-pegging in Frostbite League

Frostbite League action.

Frostbite League action.

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Nene Valley Harriers distance runners showcased the club’s strength in depth when finishing second behind Huntingdon AC in Sunday’s (January 11) Frostbite League race at March.

Despite missing several key runners the city-based club delivered a fine performance to leave them in a strong position to retain the championship which they won last year. Huntingdon and Nene Valley are now tied at the top of the league with two races left in the six-event series.

Paul Vernon representing triathlon club PACTRAC proved too hot to handle again with his fourth emphatic win of the series. He recorded an impressive time of 27:56 over the testing 5.2 mile mixed terrain course, and was a full 28 seconds ahead of runner-up Dave Connell of Huntingdon AC, while Riverside runner Chris Wright finished in third place a further 27 seconds back.

The evergreen 49 year-old postman, Sean Beard, maintained his fine recent run of form to lead the Harriers home with a top 10 placing, and he was well supported by Mike Chapman in 15th position.

Rob Prady and James McDonald finished 21st and 25th respectively, and in an event where points are scored by the first seven men and first three women home for each club, the men’s scoring was completed by Lance Hemmings, Lee Harthill and Justin Hargate.

Nene Valley’s ladies also showed well with Ruth Jones eighth woman home and 118th overall. Less than 24 hours earlier Jones had helped the club’s ladies win the silver medal in this season’s North Midland’s Cross-Country league. Louise Blake and Laura Grimer provided valuable support completing the Nene Valley scoring team.

The first lady across the line was Caroline Woods. The Yaxley Runner secured 51st place overall in a creditable time of 33:10. Woods fought off the challenge of Bourne AC member Clare Steels who finished second, while Cambridge and Coleridge’s Diana Chalmers placed third.

The honours in the junior race were taken by Riverside Runners William Forster who completed the 1.5 mile course in a time of 8:36. Luke Fenner of host club March AC was second just four seconds behind.

With many runners absent because of their involvment in the North Midlands League the previous day, Nene Valley Harriers finished a creditable fifth in the junior race with Megan Ellison providing the highlight finishing eighth overall despite having raced the day before. Codi Leigh Middleton, Freddie House and Ellie Piccaver also ran well.

The next races take place in Bourne Woods on February 1, and Nene Valley will be hoping to consolidate their push for victory at both senior and junior levels.