Sat 5 Jan 2019, Witton Park, Blackburn
The Lancashire Cross Country Championships had an outcome in the final race for Preston Harriers` senior men that was initially frustrating and delivered a very needless error at the presentation. The first set of team results, with six athletes to count, had the winners as Ribble Valley, 2nd as Salford Harriers and 3rd as Blackburn Harriers. But those present at the conclusion had an inkling that it didn`t look quite right, especially with four runners in the first twenty-one places and a championship win for Dan Bebbington and 2nd place to Nathan Dunn. The initial results had shown Harriers closing in, two different teams rather than just the one and yet when the mistake was acknowledged it was too late for the team to take to the podium. Harriers had 111 points for the six counters, pushing Ribble Valley’s total of 116 into 2nd place.
The front of the race, over 4 large laps and 9.8k, had seen a highly contested race, until Dan Bebbington and Nathan Dunn pulled away. Bebbington retained his title and is the first man to win successive titles since Simon Deakin (Leeds) in 2011 and 2012. Dunn was just three seconds behind and first under 20 man by well over a minute and he also retained his title from 2018. The senior men team counters also included Chris Durney (14th), Jack-Dee Ingham (21st), Byron Sowerby (33rd) and Matias Grixti (40th). There was success too for the under 15 boys who won their event. Over 3.8k, Thomas Durney was a very fine 3rd in 12.28 and Thomas Barnes 4th in 12.36. Charlie Haigh in 14th and Thomas Chadwick in 23rd helped secure the win over Blackburn Harriers. The u17 women over 5.5k, and two long climbs up the famous saucer, also won their event, and there was a tight tussle at the front with Darcey Lonsdale, Finty Royle (Chorley) and Phoebe Hayashi (Lancaster) before on the final lap, Royle pulled away to win, with Darcey Lonsdale finishing 2nd. Joining her on the podium for the team prize were Emma Fulton and Megan Mahoney.
The under 15 girls’ race saw Harriers finish 2nd, with Grace Brown (4th), Jenn Watson (6th), Libby Huxley (10th) and Scarlett Sutton (11th) – it was a very good performance overall, only just behind Chorley but with excellent backing from a good turn-out with Olivia Miller, Emily Reynolds, Emily Knell, Grace Kelly, and Emily Mayson all assisting. Ben Preddy had a very strong run for 2nd in the under 17 men’s race over 5.5k. He finished just behind Matthew Mackay of Rossendale. Matthew Fazackerley was 4th, and in a show of good team packing Jack Campy was 12th, Harry Everett 13th, Tom Dickinson 14th. Arran Baldwin also ran, and the u17s finished 2nd team behind a very dominant Rossendale. George Denye also had a very good run, finishing 3rd in the under 13 boys’ race. This was the first race on the day to use the larger lap. Ben Dilworth was 8th, Jenson Warren 10th, William Moorhouse 24th, and Jack Winstanley 30th. At under 13 girls, Grace Rayner was 3rd, in 12.29 over 3.2k and Poppi Watson was 24th. Charlotte Mahoney was 26th and Martha Rayner 27th. Sophie Rotherham led the senior ladies home over 6.7k and finished 18th in a very strong field, made very competitive too by a team from Manx Harriers on the Isle of Man. Emma-Essex Crosby was 33rd, Katey Foster now easing back into her running, was 40th and Vicky Duckett 50th. In the first races of the day, at u11, Hayden Ridgely and Ethan Chadwick finished 10th & 11th respectively in the boys’ race, with Lucy Fulton and Autumn Warren contesting the girls’ race.
The qualification for the actual races is based on either birth in the county or residence of nine months over the last year. From each race, apart from the under 11s, based on the highest positions and some at the team managers’ discretion, a full team is selected to earn a coveted Lancashire vest and compete for the county at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough on the 9th March.