North Herts Road Runners claimed the Three Counties Cross-Country league title for an unprecedented third time on Sunday as 41 Squirrels laboured to victory on the hilly, muddy Dunstable course. The club’s cross-country rep, John Auld, said “The mud made the already challenging hills even worse! I think I was just jogging on the spot a few times.” However, the conditions did not dampen the spirits of the plucky club runners. Knowing they needed to win the race to take the title, they dug deep. In a hard-fought contest, the ladies team won first place and the men’s team won second place, leading to a combined victory for the race and the overall league.
Reflecting on the victory, John said, “We won every race. We have the best team, with 65 club runners taking part this season. Everybody should be super proud of this. We have actually only failed to win one race in the combined category in the last 3 years.” In further impressive news, the ladies team captain, Katie Harbon, was crowned Ladies’ Open Champion, with Ed Price storming to second place in the Open Male competition.
It was not all about winning however. Lorna Chambers said, “A baptism of fire for my first ever XC race! Thanks so much to all who turned up to support in the chilling wind. I am so proud to have been part of the NHRR team - every little helps!”. Rhia Botha added “What a brilliant result. Well done everyone! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to run for such a wonderful club in my debut XC season. I really thought I'd hate it, with all the mud, wind, rain and cold, not to mention the hills! But I must admit that it has been quite a special experience.”
Other impressive results from the league were as follows: Oliver Brady, 1st male U20, Stewart Overton, 1st male V35, John Auld, 2nd male V35, Wayne Bell, 2nd male V40, Mark Vaughan, 1st male V45, Paula Adams, 1st Ladies V50, Pete Sibbett 3rd male V55, Carina Quale, 2nd ladies V60 .
Elsewhere, two Squirrels took part in the very first Letchworth Ultra (Run the Sun in Weston). Mike Bullock and Susan Mansfield ran in what Mike described as a “Big muddy sludge-fest”, which involved running as far as you can in daylight hours (8 hours) on a 5 km lapped off-road (hilly-ish) course. Mike said, “The day started with foolish ambitions of a double marathon distance for our first ultra of the decade, but this lasted about 2 minutes until we arrived at the first bog-of-doom...then the second, then the third ...” As the day progressed, more and more runners disappeared down muddy holes, so by lunchtime half of the field had retired. Mike and Susan soldiered on to the end, and ended up tired but happy, coming 4th (57km in 7hrs 45) and 6th (57km in 8hrs 6 minutes) respectively.
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