Skip to main content

Midland and Birmingham Cross Country League Division 2, Race Day 4, final fixtures of the 2022-23 season

« back   approx 5 mins read.

11 February 2023 - CLC Striders do the double

Striders at the double

On a dry, mild, still mid-February day, it was time for CLC Striders ladies and men’s athletes to give their all in pursuit of promotion glory to Division One of their respective Midland and Birmingham cross country leagues. The stage was well and truly set. The ladies had been there before, of course – already enjoying a good few seasons competing at the highest level of the region. But, for the men, could this be the first time they achieved the Division One dream of their club founder and head coach, Brendan Ward.

First, it was the ladies, who travelled north-east to race at Coombe Abbey Park, Coventry in an event hosted by Sphinx AC and Massey Ferguson RC. Over a pretty flat and firm course, with a few technical turns and switch-backs, the CLC Striders ladies bust a gut to do themselves and the club proud.

Helen Knight finished in 5th overall and as 2nd in her Masters category to lead the team home. She was followed, in quick succession, by the other A-team team scorers – Liza Bradshaw in 12th overall, as 4th in the Masters, Kate Telford as 15th overall and 5th in the Masters category, and ladies captain Rachel Vines in 22nd overall and as 9th Master. Club coach and veteran Amelia Mullins also ran, finishing in 59th place.

With such gutsy performances on the day, the ladies secured 3rd team place and 1st in the Masters category. Overall for the season, the ladies bagged 3rd position in Division Two and were the 1st Masters team across the winter. Liza Bradshaw earned 3rd place in the Masters for the season. And the ladies achieved their goal of promotion back to the heady heights of Division One in the Midland Cross Country League – where athletes of their class belong.

Full results of the senior ladies race are available on the Race Tec Results website, as are the full results of the Masters

Meanwhile, the CLC Striders men journeyed to Burton Dassett Country Park in Warwickshire for their final race of the Birmingham cross country League Division Two to do battle over some of the most testing terrain in the region in an event hosted by Spa Striders. Having first entered Division 3 in the Birmingham League way back in the 2011-12 season, not long after its founding in 2008, could this small, inclusive running club from a provincial town in Gloucestershire finally make it to Division One? Once again, the men turned out in force and 18 runners lined up to face the brutal landscape to hopefully make the dream come true.

As in all the races this season, the men were led home by a battling Rob Green, finishing 10th overall and 2nd in his Masters category, completing an incredible set of results in his second season competing in the Birmingham League that would see him finish 8th overall in the and as 1st in the Masters across the four races. With the bit well and truly back between his teeth, club stalwart Will Ferguson turned in his best performance of the season to finish not far behind Green in 13th place. Growing stronger race-by-race, the young Tom Burgess fought hard for 20th place and Joe Willgoss, the club’s new super-signing this season, was 25th. Making his one and only appearance in the league this season, club cross country specialist Iain Porter turned in a wonderful 31st, with the sixth scorer, Alex Johnston, finishing off his debut season with an awesome 37th place. With all six A-Team scorers in the top 40, surely CLC Striders had secured their goal? Time would tell.

The B Team once again performed heroics, making every place count on the day. Finishing in 47th, Rob Finch showed what a strong cross country performer he is. Next home was the much-improved Nick Ledwold in 81st, closely followed by John Comer in 85th and Rustam Hemsley in 98th. With Sheng Peng in 102nd and men’s captain Will Pearce in 106th, the B Team were all home – almost all within the top 100. Things were looking good.

Other finishers on the day were Jamie Hartnoll in 108th, Adam Greenwood in 113th, Paul Northup in 118th, Joel Freeland in 125th and Paul Lockyer in 130th. Ryan O’Donnell started, but withdrew part-way feeling light-headed. Overall on the day, the A-Team secured their lowest ever team points score for second place, the B Team backing them up as 3rd placed B Team. And, finally, the news the team had been waiting for was confirmed, as the season results were announced after the race: CLC Striders men had earned promotion to Division One with their lowest overall cumulative season score of 860. In the individual competition, Rob Green was 8th overall and 1st in his Masters category – an incredible performance for a triathlete specialist in his first full season with the club. After 12 long years in the Birmingham Cross Country Leagues, the club had finally realised the vision of its founder and Head Coach Brendan Ward in winning promotion to Division One.

Full results of the mens race are available on the Birmingham League website

With both the CLC Striders ladies and men earning promotion to Division One of their respective regional leagues for next season on the same, the club marked the most auspicious day in its history, putting its credibility and reputation well and truly on the regional map.

Ladies Midlands Cross Country League division 2 team Pictured from left to right, the CLC Striders ladies: Helen Knight, Liza Bradshaw, Rachel Vines, Kate Telford and Amelia Mullins

Mens Birmingham Cross Country League division 2 team Pictured, the CLC Striders men Back row from left to right: Club treasurer Eoin McQuone, Paul Lockyer, Rob Green, Jamie Hartnoll, Rustam Hemsley, Joe Willgoss, Will Ferguson, John Comer, Ryan O’Donnell, Alex Johnstone, Nick Ledwold, Paul Northup, Sheng Peng, Iain Porter, Rob Finch Front row from left to right: Tom Burgess, Will Pearce, Joel Freeland, club founder and head coach Brendan Ward, and Adam Greenwood