CROSS COUNTRY: Harriers on verge of Frostbite glory

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Nene Valley Harriers shone as Bourne Wood provided the hilliest and muddiest challenge yet of this season’s Frostbite Friendly cross country league on Sunday.

The senior team took top spot overall – meaning the Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire club will go into the final fixture in Huntingdon as the league leaders.

On one of the sunniest days of the year, the Harriers were led in by John Pike in the senior race. He narrowly missed out on the top spot to Cambridge & Coleridge’s (C&C) Sullivan Smith by nine seconds, posting a time of 28.27mins. They were followed by Nene Valley’s Adam Birch (29.15mins) in fourth place.

Aaron Shepherd, who dramatically fell twice on the rain-soaked trails, also did well to finish in 15th in 31.17mins.

Lance Hemmings, Sean Beard, 17-year-old Nathan Tweedie, and 15-year-old Bradley Spurdens completed the scoring team, all finishing in the top 40 overall.

Meanwhile, Ruth Jones was the first senior woman to cross the line for the Harriers.

She finished in third place with a time of 34.40 mins, with C&C’s Carla Brown just snatching the top spot from Ramsey’s Lisa Marriott.

All three tackled the Southern Cross Country Championships the week before at Parliament Hill in London, so clearly enjoy tackling muddy terrain.

Behind them, Nene Valley’s 16-year-old Emily Brand ran impressively well in her first race of this distance to take the second female spot for the club, with Louise Blake just 33 places behind to complete the team scoring.

There was further success in the junior race, with NVH’s Will Baker winning the race outright. Jack Weddup, Dan Lornie, Jonathan Friend and Codey Holland also scored highly for the club, with Paula Naylor taking top honours as first female Harrier home in 48th overall.

The youngsters’ steely resolve on a very tough course resulted in a superb score of 124, a huge improvement from the previous league race at March when they posted 329.

The junior team finished in third position on the day, putting them fourth overall in the table.

• Teenage running sensation Alex Hampson dominated the intermediate boys’ race at the Anglian Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

The Bourne-based Nene Valley Harrier won the Abingdon Park event by a huge margin, clocking a rapid time of 20.40mins to seize the title for Lincolnshire in a fiercely-fought contest between runners from counties all over East Anglia.

Second place on the day went to Rob Huckle, who was some 24 seconds behind he Nene Valley ace.

Hampson has enjoyed a hugely successful cross country season, in what is his first year in the under-17 age group.

As well as taking a top three position in every one of the highly-competitive North Midlands League fixtures he has contested, he also finished a very creditable 24th in the Southern Championships at Parliament Hill last month.

The 15-year-old Harrier now plans to complete the season in style at the Nationals and Inter-Counties, culminating in the English Schools Cross Country Championships next month.