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NESS XC and Suffolk XC Championships

The winter season is upon us, so it can only mean one thing, cross country. As part of the North Essex & South Suffolk cross country league, members took part in the first race in the grounds of Writtle University. After a week of rain, typical muddy cross-country conditions were expected, but on the morning of the race, the mild conditions made it a pleasant run.  We had 9 juniors and 8 seniors representing the Club on what was a tough course. Congratulations to Belinda Godbold who came 1st in her age group and to our runners of the day, Thomas Davis and Stuart Hunt.

The second race took place at Gosfield School and with an air temperature of 3 degrees following an overnight frost, conditions were perfect but for most it was a case of trepidation. An extra layer of clothing and lots of tape around their spikes as Gosfield is a course known for mud, icy water, unexpected obstacles and lots of fun! The course didn’t disappoint and neither did the performances of all the attending Hares who were a credit to the club. We had a team of 8 juniors with Finlay Smith-Surety getting ‘runner of the day’ for his determination.

For the seniors there was a great atmosphere before the start as Hares were fielding a full team and they had the use of our new red gazebo! After team photos and a team ‘power up’ everyone headed off to the line to take on the course. A fallen tree on the course gave this years unexpected obstacle. Some could jump over it, others had to climb over it but it all added to the challenge and fun of the day. Lucy Jay was named senior runner of the day.

The third race of the season took place at Hilly Fields, Colchester and as always, the weather was a major factor. The previous day had been a day of torrential rain and thoughts of slipping and sliding around the course was in everyone’s mind. Amazingly, this was not the case.  The course couldn’t have been better with very little mud and a slightly altered course. We were really spoilt as the route through the woods had had the leaves brushed to one side so we could see any tree roots that happened to be lurking. Hilly by name and hilly by nature, a truly challenging course.

We had 7 of our amazing juniors putting in fantastic efforts around the course. Morgan Davies and Ella Baalham were our runners of the day. Our 8 senior runners put in a sterling job with Aden Bell coming in 15th place overall. Ryan McNeill was the runner of the day for setting up and organising the juniors.

Round 4 of the NESS Cross Country League was hosted by Harwich and took place at Wix Equestrian Centre, where the course is always challenging, with mixed terrain that constantly changes underfoot. Following a week of sub-zero degree temperatures, with lots of frost, the slightly milder but windier overnight conditions made the course even more challenging than normal.

The Junior team was a team of 6 boys and 2 girls es in what became a challenging race and not just because of the conditions. Although the team was a girl short, the members were all well placed at the start of the 1.2 mile race and a good points score looked on the cards, as the 112 runners set off fast. They moved from one field to another, following the long track, before turning and heading towards the woods with inviting features of trenches to jump over, bridges to cross and fallen trees to avoid. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding from many of the field as they went ‘off course’ and ended up running about half a kilometre longer on a different route. This left the officials no other decision than to make the race ‘void’.

With other events taking place over the weekend, the senior team were missing some runners which unfortunately left Hares two males short for a full team. However, there was a full female team and overall, a lack of numbers did not mean a lack in quality with fantastic performances from everyone, in this gruelling 5 mile race. The changing weather made footwear decisions difficult, with long water-logged grass in places followed by areas still frosted. Was the course challenging or fun enough? Clearly not, so the organisers kindly set the course to cross a deeply ploughed, muddy field, just a minute or so, after the start. Due to the wind it was difficult to hear exactly what the runners throughout the field were saying but it appeared to express how happy they were to see this obstacle and how much they relished the challenge it presented!

What was also obvious was how well the Hares runners were running and how well placed the team were in their respective races. Stuart Price and Aden Bell were in the leading group as they crossed the ploughed field and out towards the joys of the woods. Vicky Tapp, is now establishing herself amongst the leading runners in the league and she looked strong at the same point of the race, also being well placed towards the front of the field.  There wasn’t long to wait before the other Hares, crossed the same point, all making sure that they kept with or ahead of the runners around them.

The course was not only challenging to run but also challenging to follow for spectators and with only 1km left of the race, the runners came back into sight and Stuart Price was still in 9th place and running well, with a couple of runners working together to catch him. Then just over a minute later Aden Bell came into sight in 13th place, showing great determination to stay 10 seconds ahead of a chasing pack, particularly as it contained a runner formerly of the Hares parish! Both maintained their positions, to the finish, extending their advantage over the chasing runners, well done lads!

It was not long before Vicky Tapp came into the finishing straight for a tremendous finish, holding off a fast finishing Bentley runner and almost catching the runner ahead. This set the scene for fast finishing as Belinda Godbold and Nathalie Hooper both gained places. Fiona Holland and Samantha Cooper also held off other runners to maintain their place. Ryan McNeil, ran with an injury and put in a fantastic performance, running strongly throughout as did Stuart Hunt, who put in a really strong performance in the second half of the race to maintain his position and score well for the team. 

January 8th was the Cross-Country Championships held at Royal Hospital School, Ipswich. It is truly an amazing venue to hold this all day event. Our junior runners kicked off the day with Poppy Humphrey coming 3rd in the Under 11s. The senior men had a tough 10k course which was very muddy in places and particularly chilly along the sea wall. The senior ladies ran the last race of the day, another muddy 8k and all finished well before the light started to fade. The ladies team finished 6th out of 10th which is a great achievement.

Congratulations to Belinda Godbald for coming first in her age group and Fiona Holland coming second in her age group.

A Huge congratulations to juniors Laila McNeil, Elissa Bell, Annalise Bell, Morgan Davies, Ella Baalham, Alex Collins, Daniel Cooper, Thomas Davis, Finlay Gunning, Felix Clover, Kyan McNeill, Finlay Smith-Surety, Joel Farmer, Haydn Kilgour and Poppy Humphrey for taking part in the seasons cross-country.

Also, a massive thank you to seniors Victoria Tapp, Belinda Godbold, Nathalie Hooper, Fiona Holland, Eleanor Langridge-Brown, Elizabeth Stewart, Lucy Jay, Samantha Cooper, Stuart Price, Adam Chamberlin, Aden Bell, Andrew Stewart, Stuart Hunt, Steve Hunt, Ryan McNeill, Ash Fiddis, Andrew Turner and Elaine Turner.



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