Bedford & County athletes were in action on Saturday in the South of England Cross Country Championships, which were held at the iconic and extremely muddy Parliament Hill Fields venue at Hampstead Heath in London.
With the club’s Junior (Under 20) men having performed exceptionally well so far this season, hopes were high that they would make the team podium in their 8k race.
After 3k of the Junior race, it was becoming apparent that not only was a medal looking almost a certainty, but that the medal would be gold. Both Harry Brodie and James Minter were lying in the top 10, within range of the leaders, and Alfie Yabsley and Ed Blythman were close behind in the mid teens.
In the latter stages, 17 year-old Brodie, having the race of his life, chased down a breakaway group of 3, catching one of them to snatch a very well deserved but totally unexpected individual bronze medal, recording a time of 26:13 a mere 8 secs behind the winner.
Not to be outdone, his team mates were also recording their best ever performances at this level, with Minter finishing in 8th place (26:47), Yabsley 13th (27:14), Blythman 16th (27:37) and Richard Laursen 56th (29:32). With a total of 40 points, it was gold to Bedford for the first time in the club’s history.
As the 15k Senior Men’s race got underway, it was quickly clear that team medals were out of the question for the somewhat under-strength team, but nevertheless the team performed very creditably to finish in 5th place of the 158 clubs entered.
As so often, the 41 year old veteran Darren Deed led the squad home finishing in an excellent 14th place of the mighty 1,172 finishers with a time of 49:21.
Ben Alcock was 32nd in 50:45, John Eves 45th (51:20), Richard Henderson 62nd (52:37), Will Mackay 77th (53:16), Mike Channing 106th (54:22), Craig Emmerson 164th (55:58), Andrew Headley 190th (56:31), and Stuart Still 600th (65:04).
The Under 13 Girls team continued their fine winter form by claiming the bronze medal at Parliament Hill. Lily Farr performed brilliantly to fight her way to sixth place in a very competitive 3 kilometre race.
Farr’s time of 12:47 was only seven seconds behind the winner. She was ably abetted by Rosie Foster (13:33) who finished 32nd, Milly Dunger (13:35), who finished 33rd, and Lyla Donobrega (13:39), who finished 36th.
In related news, on Sunday 19 January, Bedford’s Matt Leach moved to the top of the 2020 UK Half Marathon rankings with a superb new club record of 62:57, which he achieved when running in the Houston Half Marathon in the USA.
Not to be outdone, Bedford’s Irish International, Matt Bergin set a new club 5 mile record of 22:43 when finishing 3rd in the Raheny 5 mile road race in Dublin on Sunday.