Harriers Excel at County Championships

Colchester Harriers’ athletes were in cross-country action this week with the annual county championships for junior and veteran age groups taking place at Writtle University College on Saturday.

With the wind blowing and a muddy course it was proper cross-country racing and Colchester’s women once again led the way with team captain Tracy English running a characteristically brave race to finish an excellent third overall (and 2nd V45) despite carrying an injury.  English was backed up by strong performances from the Sarah Stradling (11th overall, 4th V45), Alexandra Hennessey and Annette Oakman as Harriers took the silver medal in the V40 team competition narrowly missing out on gold to Springfield Striders. Strong performances from Denise Morley (9th overall, 2nd V50), Kate Gibson, Melissa Dowell and Susan Waller-Toyne saw Harriers go one better in the V50 event, fighting off strong competition from both Orion Harriers and Ilford AC to take the top position on the podium, whilst Jenny Richardson won bronze in the V60 event.

Harriers’ men’s V50 and V60 teams were in the medals too.  The V50 team came away with gold thanks to Colin Ridley (4th overall, 2nd V55), Allen Smalls (5th overall, 3rd V50), Paul Spowage (13th overall, 4th V55) and Kevin Higgins (15th) – the team successfully defending their title, pipping Orion Harriers and Springfield Striders in a very close fought competition.  Meanwhile the “supervet” quartet of Paul Mingay (11th overall, 1st V60), Chris Stevenson, Dave Wright and Arthur Whiston took bronze in the inaugural V60 competition, whilst Jonathon Nears (10th) and Dan Widdowson (11th) both put in excellent individual performances in the V40 category.

The green vests had enjoyed an excellent start to the day in the junior events as emerging talent Isla Widdowson took silver in a tight finish in the Under 13 Girls’ event, with Eva Butler 21st and Sarah Callender 28th.  Lyla Belshaw had then gone one better for her club in the Under 15 Girls’ race, coming home first with a comfortable margin of 40 seconds over her closest rival with Beatrice Sayer also running a strong race in 16th place, whilst Harrison Leek placed 16th in the Boys’ event.

Meanwhile, in somewhat warmer conditions, Mark McKeown ran a superbly paced 2:38:08 in the Valencia Marathon, taking over 2 minutes off his previous best time and recording the fastest time by a Colchester runner in a marathon this year.

Full Colchester Essex Cross Country Championships results:

U13 Girls:  2nd Isla Widdowson, 21st Eva Butler, 28th Sarah Callendar.

U15 Girls: 1st Lyla Belshaw, 16th Beatrice Sayer

U15 Boys: 16th Harrison Leek

Veteran Women:  3rd Tracy English (2nd V45), 9th Denise Morley (2nd V50),  11th Sarah Stradling, 20th Alexandra Hennessey, 23rd Annette Oakman, 31st Kate Gibson, 38th Melissa Dowell, 53rd Susan Waller-Toyne, 59th Jenny Richardson (3rd V60).

V40 Men: 10th Jonathan Nears, 11th Dan Widdowson, 31st Paul Rodgers, 45th Jerry Walder, 59th Ian Rattray, 60th Daniel Meecham, 65th Dan Macey.

V50+ Men: 4th Colin Ridley (2nd V55), 5th Allen Smalls (3rd V50), 11th Paul Mingay (1st V60), 13th Paul Spowage, 15th Kevin Higgins, 29th Peter West, 34th Paul Dellar, 36th Russell Goodridge, 45th James Waterson, 47th David Hilson, 48th Simon Smith, 56th Chris Stevenson, 64th Dave Wright, 112th Arthur Whiston (2nd V70).

Isla Widdowson took silver in the Under 13 girls race

Gold medals for the V50 team of Ridley, Smalls, Spowage and Higgins

Colin Ridley strikes individual gold in the V55 age group

It was silver medals for Tracy English with an individual medal in the V45 age group as well as a V40 team medal.

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