Mud glorious mud . . . Harriers win junior and senior races

Some of Nene Valley Harriers' winning senior team. From the left are Tracy McCartney, Tim Hunt, Ruth Jones, Rhys Goddard,  Sean Beard, Sophie Wilkinson and Nathan Tweedie.
Some of Nene Valley Harriers' winning senior team. From the left are Tracy McCartney, Tim Hunt, Ruth Jones, Rhys Goddard, Sean Beard, Sophie Wilkinson and Nathan Tweedie.
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Nene Valley Harriers couldn’t get among the individual prizes but team-wise they ruled the roost at the third Frostbite League meeting of the season at a very muddy Hinchingbrooke Park on Sunday.

The course was frozen hard the previous day, leading many club runners into a false sense of security regarding their footwear, with large numbers arriving at the park in flat road shoes.

However, temperatures rose enough during the morning to melt the frost, leading to waterlogged, muddy and often treacherous terrain for the 600-plus hardy souls who took part in the third league races of the season.

Bourne Town Harriers’ Cameron Everist took the junior race honours defeating a strong trio of William Forster (Riverside Runners), Luke Fenner (March AC) and Joey Croft (Hunts AC) when he crossed the line first in a time of 9:25 for the 1.5m distance.

The Harriers packed in their first four athletes in the top 12, though, with Nathan Davey leading the club to team victory in fifth place and Ethan Ellison finishing seventh, Megan Ellison 10th and Charlie Evans 12th.

Megan Ellison was first female finisher.

Those positions gave them a comfortable 29-point lead over their nearest rivals on the day, PACTRAC, to keep them one point ahead of Riverside Runners in the overall league standings.

It was a closer affair in the senior race as Nene Valley won with 502 ahead of Hunts AC on 566.

The Peterborough club did not dominate the top 20 positions as much as they have become accustomed to of late, with strong performances coming from athletes from every club in the league.

The 5m race was won with ease by PACTRAC’s Paul Vernon in 28:37, a time which reflected the atrocious conditions on the day.

Only four athletes dipped under 30 minutes, with the slippery uphill section in the woods providing the most challenging part of the course, drastically slowing runners to times one to two minutes down on their usual clockings for the event.

Riverside Runners’ Matt Nicholson and Cambridge & Coleridge’s ever-reliable Michael Salt filled the second and third positions, while young Rhys Goddard was first across the line for the Harriers in fifth place overall.

Goddard (22) only started competing a few months ago, in the Peterborough parkrun, and has seen his 5k personal best (PB) time tumble into the 16-minute range this autumn.

He received support from team-mates Jevan Robertson (15th), Nathan Tweedie (16th), Mike Chapman (17th), Sean Beard (33rd) and Jamie Toms (41st).

That was a good effort by Beard who had raced less than 24 hours earlier at the South of England Masters’ Championships at Oxford, placing 31st in the Over 40 race and 10th Over 45.

Tracy McCartney held true to her reliable first lady status in almost every Frostbite race she has contested so far, placing 54th overall.

Cambridge & Coleridge’s 17-year old steeplechase star, Diana Chalmers, was second lady, while Hunts AC’s Polly Smith, also just 17, was third.

McCartney was backed up by team-mates Ruth Jones (105th) and Sophie Wilkinson (166th)to help the club stay one point ahead of Riverside Runners overall.

The next league fixture will be hosted by March AC on January 11 on their home territory.