Harriers Take Relay Gold in Thrilling Finish

A warm, sunny day and dry underfoot conditions greeted Essex’s best runners as they gathered in South Weald Park, Brentwood for the Essex Cross Country Relay Championships, the traditional curtain-raiser to the winter season.

And it was Colchester Harriers’ on-form women’s team that made a clear statement of intent for the forthcoming season by winning the overall trophy for the first time since 2014, although it really couldn’t have been closer.

A flying start from lead-off woman Lydia Callan saw her hand the baton over to teammate Holly Freegard in second place – a few metres behind Havering AC with Basildon AC in close pursuit in third.  Freegard, despite having just got over a bout of Covid, ran an excellent leg, the promising youngster handing over to Roanna Vickers having maintained the green vest’s position just behind Havering with Basildon now some way behind in third. Vickers then called upon all her experience to run a brilliantly judged leg with a storming finish seeing her catch her Havering rival in the final metre to take the win by the narrowest of margins on the finishing line.

Holly, Roanna and Lydia at the finish

Colchester’s V50 dream team of Annette Oakman, Margaret Deasy and Denise Morley then repeated their success at the road relays earlier in the year to take the gold medal in that category, more than seven minutes clear of the second V50 team, and beating many other clubs’ senior teams to finish a remarkable 11th overall (out of 47 teams).

Denise and Margaret – clear winners on the day

Harriers’ men also had a successful day with the trio of Nate Filer, Dan Widdowson and Mark McKeown combining for a hard earned V40 silver and Colin Ridley, Chris Stevenson and Kevin Higgins taking V50 Silver with Higgins storming through the field on the last leg.

Dan, Nate and Mark – V40 Silver Medallists

The senior men also competed well with the quartet of James Morley, Chris Sellens, Steve Mason and Cameron Humphries finishing seventh, whilst the trio of Dom King, Tim Ballard and Simon Colclough were ninth V40 team with Dan Steptoe-Thompson, Ian Rattray and Pat Marsh combining to finish nineteenth in the same category.

Dom King in action

Elsewhere on the roads Adrian Mussett won the Dedham 10K, completing the far from flat course in a new record time of 32:37 with Caleb Preston running 43:50 in his first outing over the distance and brother Hayden winning the 11-12 year old category after completing the 3K in a personal best of 10:45.