The Nene Valley Harriers cross-country team were purring with delight as Cat Foley-Wray led them to an unexpected victory in Sunday’s Frostbite League fixture at Bourne Woods.
Not surprisingly the in-form 29 year-old was first lady home, finishing 16th in a high-quality field.
More significantly she led the Nene Valley challenge, leaving the entire men’s team trailing in her wake.
With the English National Cross-Country Championship just two weeks away, the Stamford-based speedster is in the type of form which should help to cement her growing reputation on the national scene.
The points system employed by the Frostbite League, where the first seven men and the leading trio of ladies from each club score, means that a strong ladies squad is key.
Not wishing to disappoint, Nicky Morgan, on her 46th birthday, and Chloe Pavey finished among the leading ladies - they were 74th and 144th overall respectively - adding valued support to Foley-Wray’s heroics for the Harriers.
The race winner was London-based Werrington Joggers ace Anthony Johnson in what was his last outing for the club before joining Kent AC. The departing ‘jogger’ covered the hilly, muddy and windswept five-mile course in an impressive 27:19.
That was a full 20 seconds ahead of Yaxley’s James Mogridge, who he pulled clear of mid race.
PACTRAC’S Paul Vernon won the second and third races in the series but was beaten into third place at Bourne a further 24 seconds back.
Simon Hearty of Yaxley, Werrington’s Paul Halford and Ben Heron from Eye also made the top 10.
Despite owing much to their ladies, the victorious Nene Valley team could not afford any slips from their men.
And they did not disappoint, with Mike Chapman, Nathan Tweedie, Lee Harthill, Drew Warnes and James McDonald grouping well for top 40 finishes.
Rachel Gibbs of Werrington Joggers was second lady home, over two minutes behind the outstanding Foley-Wray, with Bourne’s Claire Steels third.
Sarah Overington of Eye continued her fine start to the year coming home as fifth lady, two places ahead of Nene Valley’s second scorer Morgan.
Nene Valley’s victory on the day cemented their fifth place in the standings, two positions behind Werrington Joggers, who were second local team in fourth position.
With just one race to go in the series, Hunts AC appear to have an unassailable advantage, but good performances from Nene Valley or Werrington could see either club in contention for the runner-up spot.
The junior race was comfortably won by Hunts AC’s Joey Croft, with Jonathan Oakley of PACTRAC second.
Harvey Hancock from Werrington, Codi-Leigh Middleton of Nene Valley, and Yaxley youngster Alexander Devine all made the top 10, while Shannon Flockhart (Hunts AC) was the leading girl just ahead of PACTRAC’s Flo Brill.
Nene Valley Harriers were second to Hunts AC at Bourne, and lie third in the overall standings.