Kenilworth Runners are in seventh heaven

Kenilworth Runners made their best-ever Birmingham League Cross Country start with a superb seventh-placed finish in Division One at the opening race of four, held at Newbold Comyn.

Targeting a top-ten finishing position for the first time in the club’s 26-year history, the club outperformed a number of its more illustrious rivals to set them well on their way to achieving their goal.

With all three divisions of the league taking part at Leamington, over 700 runners tackled three laps, approximately 10k, of a challenging cross-country course.

A stern test for runners, the notorious ditch provided much entertainment for the supporters keenly awaiting the next victim of this muddy water jump, and three climbs of the Beacon up its steepest side tested the fitness levels of all the athletes.

First home for Kenilworth was Rich Simkiss, who looked supreme en route to a excellent 27th place in 35:34.

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Nearly 50 seconds behind Simkiss was Phil Gould, who was nonetheless pleased with his performance and 43rd-placed finish.

Just 16 seconds and six seconds behind Gould was Paul Andrew, who is running into some excellent form.

Next to finish was Chris McCarthy who ran well for 74th position.

He was followed in 84th place by Stuart Hopkins, who showed he has lost little of his running form despite concentrating his recent efforts on duathlon.

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The A team was completed by junior runner Paddy Roddy, who ran well to finish 121st.

The race was won by Phil Nicholls of Tipton Harriers in 33:23.

Kenilworth Runners finishers: 27, Rich Simkiss (35:34); 43, Phil Gould (36:22); 49, Paul Andrew (36:38); 74, Chris McCarthy (37:35); 84, Stuart Hopkins (37:51); 121, Paddy Roddy (39:20); 132, Jim Sawle (39:46); 149, Neil Cressy (40:27); 161, Graham Birch (40:48); 168, Pete Bryan (41:06); 183, Martin Dorrill (42:01); 193, Stephen Page (42:29); 197, Liam Chapple (42:45); 201, Mick Williams (43:12); 211, Richard Steel (43:34); 232, Ben Linfield (45:16); 237, Richard Green (45:41); 238, Dave Ramus (45:51); 243, Pete Matthews (46:20); 263, Stan Alexander (49:57); 271, Nick Bramley (50:31); 272, Stephen Chalkley (51:23); 276, Dave Pettifer (51:53); 278, Sigurd Assing (52:22); 281, John Dagnan (52:49); 283, Mark Hall (53:15); 291, Tom Dable (56:34); 295, Martin Broomfield (59:15); 296, Michael Crust (59:28); 297, Chris Hart (61:09); 298, Richard Miller (61:57);

Andy Savery led home Leamington C&AC, finishing in 35:40, 28 seconds behind Division Two winner Chris Perrin (Cannock and Stafford).

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Picking his way through the masses was Jamie Langley in 11th (37:18), with junior George Loveday making the step up to senior ranks and finishing 67th (42:13), one place ahead of Craig Bower (42:18).

The A team, which finished ninth of 15, was completed by Will Kirk-Wilson in 74th (42:31) and 77th-placed Brian Miller (44:44).

Nine other Leamington runners also finished the strength-sapping muddy course, with cross-country debutant Chris Hitchman 90th, Steve Roberts 106th, Paul Griffin 140th, Mike Denney 142nd and Pete Taylor in 153rd. The final position for the B team was taken by Graham Garlick in 184th.

Graham Roberts belied his 62 years to come 191st, with Bert Payne four places adrift and Mick Aston making a welcome return in 213th.

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Leamington athlete Ryan Kenny, running for Coventry Godiva, was 31st in 35:45.

In the earlier Midlands Ladies’ race, which was a lap shorter than the men’s, a depleted Leamington team was led home in 51st by Zara Blower (29:30).

Elaine Sherwin was 81st (31:03), with Jenny Jeeves completing the team in 112th (32:45) for a total of 244 points and 18th place from 38 teams.

Sherwin, Jeeves and Angela Chahal (137th in 33:48) made up the seventh-placed masters team.

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Kenilworth ladies’ captain Ros Matthews finished 100th in 32:05, with Sarah Habib (11th in 32:52) and Sally Hicks (155th in 35:11).

Sarah Monahan came home 211th in 39:47, with Pauline Dable the final Kenilworth finisher in 40:21 (222nd).

Coventry Godiva Harrier’s Frances Briscoe won the race in 25:04.