Simkiss lifts Runners into English top 50

Kenilworth Runners sent a strong four-man team to the English Cross Country Relays at Berry Hill Park in Mansfield and were rewarded with a fine top-50 finish.

The relays had more than 150 clubs represented in the senior men’s championships with some of the country’s finest runners competing.

The rolling 5k course over park ground and a lengthy woodland section saw good firm conditions underfoot conducive to quick running.

Men’s team captain Phil Gould took the opening leg and despite setting the second quickest leg of the day for the club (17min 27.35sec), found himself handing over to Chris McCarthy in 78th position.

In a quite remarkable feat of pacing, McCarthy and third-leg runner Phil McCorquodale ran exactly the same time, even down to a hundredth of a second (17:35.25).

This improbable act saw Kenilworth rise up the standings, with McCarthy handing over in 69th and McCorquodale 62nd.

Rich Simkiss then ran a storming final leg of 16:50.90 - the 22nd fastest leg four time - to haul the club up to 49th in the final classification.

The championships were won by Belgrave Harriers, with Coventry Godiva Harriers in 27th position.

Leamington C&AC’s Callum Hanlon stepped up for his senior cross-country debut at the second race of this season’s Gloucester League in Cheltenham.

The undulating course at Pittville Park was slightly longer than when used last year, with the ladies running 6.08km over two laps and the men 9.12km over three. Morning rain cleared but the course was quite muddy in parts and featured a stream crossing on each lap.

Hanlon ran a controlled race for 23rd (third under-20) on a gloriously sunny day, working his way through the field to come home second Leamington C&AC athlete.

Club-mate Andy Savery stuck to a lonely run in fifth - three places ahead of Olympic Marathon runner Dan Robinson - to move up the overall leaderboard.

C&AC’s team of six scored exactly the same number of points as the first meeting, 254, for fifth on the day with support coming from Craig Bower (43rd), Will Kirk-Wilson (51st), Brian Miller (59th) and Steve Roberts (73rd).

Paul Caruana (106th) and Graham Roberts (181st) also ran to complete Leamington’s senior men’s contingent.

Misfortune struck the lead Kenilworth Runner when Roger Homes had to limp out after the opening lap with a hamstring pull.

Jimmy Atkins was subsequently the first to finish, coming home in 99th position.

He was followed by John Dagnan (160th), Martin Smith (166th), Colin Underhill (188th), Tom Dable (208th), and Stef Shillington (211th).

With all six finishers scoring, the club was 22nd out of 24 teams in the open competition and 15th out of 21 in the masters’ race.

Jayne Mumford led a five-strong Kenilworth ladies’ team for the opening lap before having to pull out with a calf strain.

Ros Matthews took the helm as the first lady to finish, coming home a highly respectable 36th out of 127 finishers.

She was followed by Sara Habib (45th), Sheela Kennedy (52nd) and Pauline Dable (107th).

The club finished 12th out of 32 teams in the open league and eighth in the masters’ event.

Janet Mee was the only C&AC competitor in the ladies’ event, finishing 82nd.

In the junior events, Leamington’s under-13 boys’ teams finished second and fifth.

A strong finish from Greg West just edged out Alex Ibbs for eighth, with Keiran Chahal just 20 seconds behind in 13th for a 30-point total.

Dominic Priest again showing promise in his first season with the club was next home in 16th with Toby Loveday (26th) and Alistair Robinson (28th) making up the second team’s tally of 64 points.

Cold and wet conditions greeted runners for the Conductive Education 10k in Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham, but this did not stop new Kenilworth club member Neil Cressy running an excellent race to finish third in a new PB of 37:02.

In-form runner Dave Pettifer clocked a superb 41:44, which earned him 36th position overall and first V60 runner.

This was despite Pettifer falling to the ground after tripping over a stray dog at 9k.

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