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Gloucestershire County Cross Country Championships - 4 January 2014

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Jo Wilkie took bronze at the Gloucestershire County Championships and the women took silver in the team contest in another successful day for Striders’ ladies at the Gloucestershire County Championships at Blackbridge on Saturday.

After the recent rain, conditions were predictably boggy. After valiantly pitching the club tent in an island of relative dryness (no other clubs even tried!) the assembled Striders set about surveying the course. The first half traversed around a field and across football pitches consisting of grass and large areas of standing water. Then followed a plunge into a ditch (swiftly dubbed “the Mudslide” in an impressive display of Strider gallows humour) and the second half of the course through woods and around a running track. This second half of the course consisted of pure mud and it quickly became clear that the boggy start around the field was actually as good as it was likely to get.

With the exceptionally tough conditions underfoot deterring many from running, the Striders were nevertheless well represented First up were the ladies who quickly had four runners challenging in the top ten. Leading the way was Jo Wilkie who ran strongly from the outset and finished in a comfortable 3rdplace. She was followed by the trio of Vines, Veness and Steer. It was Vines and Veness who were setting the early pace before a lapse in concentration led to a wrong turn which saw them lose ground. In the final lap, however, they managed to recover ground, with Vines claiming 8thplace, Steer 9thand Veness 10th.

There were also good performances from Beckie Boulton (18th), Claire Sansome(21st) and Natalie Lovekin (22nd).

In the men’s race, meanwhile, there were some encouraging performances to start the new year. One of the standout performances was from Paul Harsent who made an excellent debut for the club to finish in 39thplace. He was closely followed by Rich Shardlow who put in another strong performance finishing in 40th; and by James Coull who ran well to finish inside the top 50.

Andrew Paterson (59th), Dan Harte (65th), Gordon Bendall (66th) were next for the club, and, the line-up was completed by Nicholas von Benzon, making a welcome return to competition, who finished in 68thplace.

The men were 6thin the team competition.</p>