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Midland and Birmingham Cross Country League Division 2, Race Day 3

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14 January 2023 - Aldridge Airport, Walsall and Ipsley Meadows, Redditch

Following the wettest start to January most of us can remember, it was time for CLC Striders athletes to don their spikes and get back to the fields for Race Day 3 of their Midland and Birmingham Cross Country Leagues. With both the ladies and the men in promising positions in their respective Division 2, remaining in contention for promotion at the end of the season was the goal.

The Ladies travelled to Walsall to compete over rolling fields at Aldridge Airport. The going was very wet and boggy, and, after a gentle downhill start came a climb and switch-back that was really tough, especially on the second lap. Thankfully, the morning rain eased for the race itself, but conditions were still windy, as well as saturated underfoot.

In the individual overall race, Helen Knight continued her imperious form to lead the Striders home in 7th place overall and as the 2nd Masters finisher. She was closely followed by stalwart Liza Bradshaw in 8th overall as 3rd Masters. Next came Kate Telford in 14th place as the 4th Masters finisher, with the 4th team scorer on the day Captain Rachel Vines, in 19th overall and 7th in the Masters placings. Amelia Mullins ran well for 40th place, with Fiona Brady-Miller securing 51st.

With their four scorers all inside the top 20, the Ladies came 2nd in the overall team placings (jointly with Cheltenham Harriers) but 1st, yet again, in the Masters category. With just one race to go in their Midland League, they sit in 3rd place overall, poised for possible promotion to Division One.

Full results of the ladies race are available on the [Race Tec Results website] “Race Tec Results website”)

The Men’s Team travelled up to Redditch to race over the water-logged grounds of Ipsley Meadows. With much of the course under standing water and other areas deep in mud, this one wasn’t for the faint-hearted. Once again, the men turned out in force, fielding 3 full teams on the day.

Despite nursing a bad cold, Rob Green battled hard for 11th place overall and 1st in the Masters. He was followed home by the ever-improving Tom Burgess in 27th place and this season’s new signing, Joe Willgoss in 30th. Despite losing the entire sole of one of his spikes, Will Ferguson finished in 52nd, followed by performance of the day from Rob Finch in 62nd on his Birmingham League debut. The 6th A-Team scorer was Ollie Watkins in 69th. The B Team were led home by Alex Johnston in 74th, followed by Sam Baylis in 89th, John Comer in 90th, Rustam Hemsley in 98th, Chris Driskell in 113th and a fast-improving Nick Ledwold in 118th. For the C Team, Ryan O’Donnell, Jamie Hartnoll and Paul Northup finished in 138th, 139th and 140th, with Joel Freeland in 167th, Jon Howes in 171st, and club super-vet legend David James in 185th. Eoin McQuone completed the Striders finishers in 190th place.

The A Team finished 5th and the B Team finished 3rd on the day, with the Masters Team registering 7th place. With just one more race to go, both the A- and B-Teams lie in 3rd place overall, perfectly positioned for possible promotion to Division One. In the individual standings after three races, there are three CLC Striders athletes in the top 20 – Rob Green in 6th, Joe Willgoss in 16th and Will Ferguson in 19th.

Full results of the mens race are available on the Race Tec Results website

Both the Ladies and Men are looking forward to turning out their strongest possible teams and competing as hard as they can in the fourth and final race of the season in their respective Midland and Birmingham Leagues, with both aiming to win promotion to Division One next season – an amazing achievement for a relatively small local club.

Ladies Midlands Cross Country League division 2 team From left to right: Kate Telford, Rachel Vines, Helen Knight, Liza Bradshaw, Fiona Brady-Miller and Amelia Mullins

Mens Birmingham Cross Country League division 2 team Back row from left to right: Will Ferguson, Alex Johnston, Rob Green, John Comer, Sam Baylis, Rustam Hemsley, Joe Willgoss, Ryan O’Donnell, Rob Finch, Ollie Watkins, Jon Howes, Paul Northup, Chris Driskell and David James. Front row, from left to right: Nick Ledwold, Tom Burgess, Coach Brendan Ward, Jamie Hartnoll, Eoin McQuone and Joel Freeland.