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Race Day 4 of the Midland and Birmingham Cross Country Leagues – Division One - Saturday 10 February 2024

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Saturday 10 February saw the fourth and final fixtures for CLC Striders competing in the top division of their respective regional cross-country leagues. The ladies travelled up to the brutal and challenging terrain at Burton Dassett Hills Country Park in Warwickshire, while the men journeyed slightly further afield to Northampton. The weather was kind after a week of almost constant downpours. The sun even shone.

In the Midland League Division One, the ladies had a great day of racing, with Helen Knight once again leading them home in 24th place overall and as the 6th finisher in the Masters category, capping a fantastic cross-country season for her at this level. Just over a minute later, Kate Telford clocked in as the 32nd finisher overall and 10th in the Masters, with Liza Bradshaw only just behind her in 39th overall and 14th in the Masters. Just 20 seconds after and the scoring finishers were complete, with Ladies’ captain Rachel Vines coming in in 72nd overall as the 30h Masters finisher.

The other CLC Striders ladies competing on the day, in order of finishing, were Fiona Brady-Miller, Amelia Mullins, Laura Leaver, and Emma Abbey. On the day the team finished 8th overall but were the 1st Masters team – an amazing achievement in this quality of league. Overall, at the end of the four fixtures, the Masters placed as the 2nd team and overall the ladies easily secured their place in the top flight for yet another season.

For the men, it was a different story. In this, their first year in Division One of the Birmingham league, it’s fair to say they’ve found the competition incredibly tough – especially with various of their key runners being unavailable across most of the fixtures. So, a brave seven men made the trip to Abington Park in Northampton to represent their club. Despite warnings that the route might have to be altered due to waterlogged ground, on the day the parkland had drained nicely and the fixture went ahead as planned.

Once again, the men were led home by Sam Baylis, who has competed in all four fixtures and who once again secured a top 100 finish in 94th place. The remaining Striders to complete the course were Robert Hyams in 159th, Gary Farquharson in 166th, Liam Richardson in 171st, Nick Ledwold in 180th, and V70 athlete David James in 190th. Although finishing in last team place on the day, the fact the men fielded six scoring runners means they live to fight again next season – albeit back in Division 2, alongside Gloucester AC who were also relegated on the day.

The ladies XC masters

Ladies Masters medallists – Liza Bradshaw, Helen Knight and Kate Telford (three score for the Masters category)

The ladies XC team

The Ladies team, from left to right: Liza Bradshaw, Laura Leaver, Amelia Mullins, Helen Knight, Emma Abbey, Kate Telford, Fiona Brady-Miller and Rachel Vines

The mens XC team

The Men’s team, from left to right: Liam Richardson, David James, Robert Hyams, Gary Farquharson, Nick Ledwold and Sam Baylis