Sat 2 March 2019, Cuerden Valley
After a long season, from the first fixture at Ulverston in mid-October held in heavy rain, the last fixture at Cuerden Park, was also forecast to be wet and windy. Fortunately, the rain held off apart from a couple of showers. For many in attendance, it was all about the final placings for individuals who trying to win medals for places, and also for the clubs in the various divisions who were also seeking to win team awards or avoid relegation.
Cuerden Park is what can only be billed as “a proper cross-country course.” It is not an easy course to run with its` rolling hills, grassland and water crossings. The event was very well organised by Red Rose Runners; to whom go huge thanks for their efforts.
Harriers women had already won the Division 1 title, at the previous fixture at Leigh and the last event was all about enjoying the moment. The men were out to retain their Division 1 title, and the objective was simple; finish the first six counters ahead of Lancaster University, who in turn had dominated the u20 division too.
With a good spirit in evidence and plenty of encouragement from the side-lines, a large group of Harriers men took to the start line. Several chose not to wear watches so as not to be distracted by time, or distance ran, but to run for the team places. The race was about 10k and covered one small, one medium and two large laps. By the time the medium lap had gone through the start line again, the team were in sufficiently high places to put the result beyond doubt.
Although Philip Watson of Lancaster Uni finished 4th, all six of Harriers A team counters crossed the finish line ahead of the next five Lancaster runners. Oliver Heaton, a talented fell runner and in his first cross country, finished 5th. Richard Smith was 7th, Nathan Hilditch 15th, Wesley Wilkinson 16th, and Simon Collins 17th. Fittingly, Lee Foley, the men`s team captain was the final counter.
However, the counters were extremely well supported, with runners all through the field in support. The B team finished highest on the day. Andy Whalley was 36th and has had a good season as has Simon Robinson who was 48th. Luke Greenfield in 51st, Chris Wales in 53rd, Neil McDonald in 68th and Ben Read in 82nd. As a result, the B team title was also retained. Others ran too, and their contribution helped immensely. Overall, there were 225 finishers.
For the ladies, over 5.5k, Jenny Wren who has got stronger this season, finished in a very good 7th. Katey Foster and Emma Essex-Crosby were together in 14th and 15th respectively. Vicki Sherrington was 53rd, Olga Wiggins 92nd, Elena Macdonald 93rd, Sue Wickham 119th & Judith Deakin 120th. The ladies were the second team to finish and had in the final table, extended their lead over second-placed Clayton-le-Moors to six points.
It was a tremendous effort from everyone on the day and a celebration with cake, biscuits and various other goodies took place at the club tent afterwards. Throughout the season, the success has been achieved by the club runners throughout the senior ranks, and not just the top end runner. There was been too, an enduring and collective team ethic which represents the true spirit of club athletics.