Exe-rated runners!

Exe-rated runners!
The successful Harriers team, en masse, at the Erme Valley Relays, July 2013

Monday, 10 March 2014

Harriers bag their best set of Westward League results in years

For those Harriers members who took part in the Armada Park Relays on February 16th, it must have felt like they'd never been away from Central Park in Plymouth, which, last Sunday 2nd March, also played host to the final round in the Brooks Westward Cross Country League.

Harriers men were sat in third spot in the team standings entering this 6th and final round, but things were tight between them and Plymouth AC, who were snapping at their heels and waiting to pounce on any mistakes made in 4th. This meant no relaxing for our boys and we had to get a strong team out and everyone had to run well. Luckily the lads rose to the challenge and produced some of their strongest individual performances to date. 

Leading them in and also looking to complete a perfect score card of 5 wins out of 5 (he only missed the first event at Redruth) to lift the individual men's title, was Tom Merson. Looking in control and never in danger of being challenged from the gun, Tom completed his task with ease, bagging a clean sweep of victories in this winter’s individual competition for men and securing the maximum number of points at every outing towards the team competition. Tom won by almost a minute at Plymouth, taking 30:37 to cover around 5½ hilly miles of saturated grassland while looking out for low hanging branches and avoiding flying off course, like an F1 car struggling to corner, on the greasy, tight turns. 

In his highest individual placing of the season - 9th - in a time of 33:09, was Tony Hatchard. Tony has improved consistently as the rounds have gone on and he looks to be rounding into fitness just in time for his attack on the infamous Grizzly race the following Sunday! 

Dave Stone, as ever, chasing Tony hard, was 13th in 33:3 and with that finish clinched 3rd place overall and a bronze medal for the 2013/2014 season in the veteran men aged 40-44 category. 

Captain Adam Miller was a solid 21st in 34:26 and Mark Cox 35th in 36:21, being the team's solid 5th counter. These five men had done enough to stave off their rivals and hold onto their 3rd place in the team standings, picking up bronze medals. Contributing with scores in earlier rounds, and also part of the successful bronze medal winning team, were Jamie Pearson and Rob Orton. 

Dave Eveleigh found the going a lot tougher than over the tarmac at the Armada Relays here recently. Dave was 92nd in 49:18 of the 94 men competing on Sunday. Almost two dozen clubs made up over 50 teams who were represented and so team captain Adam Miller must have been very satisfied that his team building work has put the club back on the local cross country map.

In the Women’s competition, Cathy Newman entered the final round secure in the knowledge that, baring catastrophe, the vet ladies 50 - 55 prize was hers for the losing; however, she was also in a strong position to make an impact on the overall female standings if she produced a good final round run here. Ever the cool-as-a-cucumber professional that she is, she produced an absolutely stunning last run to finish as 2nd female on the day, covering the tough 3.5 mile course in a brisk 24:49, and this was good enough to claim 3rd woman overall for the season, beating some talented athletes, some of whom were less than half her age, and a run-away winner of the women aged 50-54 category. 

The Women’s team ended up in 7th overall for the 2013/2014 competition, out of 43 teams who represented 19 different clubs. Most of the points for these teams have been achieved by Cathy, Dawn Teed (who didn't run this final round, having done her bit in the 5 previous outings) and team Captain, Carly Miller. Like her husband, Adam, Carly has also done a great job of team building and encouraging the Harriers' ladies to have a go at cross-country. This week-end Carly was 21st, her highest individual placing in the series overall, in 29:30. Lisa Hatchard, despite struggling with injury, did her bit for the team and ensured that we had our third counter in this final round, and placed 33rd in 32:07. The Women’s race was finished by 51 athletes.

Well done to everyone who contributed to a revived Harriers' success this year. Dawn Teed started the ball rolling last year and has now handed the baton on to Adam and Carly and so thanks to all three of these for their efforts in coordinating this year's success story. Here's to an even better 2014/25 season, where maybe the men can improve upon their bronze and the women can get in the team medal mix too?

Some great photos from the final Plymouth round below, courtesy of Pete Newman. More photos from this and the previous rounds can be seen on Pete's Flickr page, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97050275@N02/with/12915197973/

The bronze medal winning men's team
L - R: Tony Hatchard, Dave Stone, Tom Merson, Adam Miller (Capt.), Marc Cox. 
Not here but part of team: Jamie Pearson, Rob Orton.

Tom Merson - on route to an emphatic individual men's victory in the league.

Dave Stone - bronze medalist in the male vet 40 category. 

Cathy Newman - Bronze medalist in the female overall section and gold medalist in the FV50 section.

Carly Miller - successfully captained the ladies team to their highest team placing to date. 

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