Colchester Harriers finish in fourth

Colchester Harriers missed out on the medals at the Essex Cross Country Relay Championships, but they still showed good strength in depth.

The cross country campaign seems to get earlier and earlier every year, and this season is no different with Hockley the venue for these annual county relays.

The Harriers fielded seven senior teams and, although without their fastest men and ladies, still had an outside chance of sneaking into the top three.

And the four ladies’ teams were all competitive.

Denise Morley and Ellie Mayne were third and fourth respectively on the first 5km leg, on what was a tricky hilly course with a very tough ploughed field thrown in for good measure.

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New signing Andrea James had a very good debut for the ‘C’ team, and was well into the first 10 on hitting the line.

But the run of the day saw Laura Shewbridge propel the Harriers into second place, with young Molly Huggins looking strong to keep the ‘B’ team in fifth.

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Annette Oakman, who is getting back to her old best, kept the ‘C’ team well up the order.

But the last leg saw disaster strike for the green vests. Heidi Steele was well clear in second place before she took a wrong turn midway around the course and, on returning to the correct route, she had dropped to third.

Steele, although suffering an asthma attack, hung on and was unluckily beaten on the line for the team bronze medals by Southend’s Kerry Holland.

The ‘B’ team were fifth, two minutes behind thanks to Amanda Henry’s smart running on the anchor leg, and the ‘C’ team were in the top 10, due to Charlotte Allen putting in a sturdy performance.

The ‘D’ team also performed well with Kate Sandercock, Debbie Cattermole and the ever youthful Fran Norris all running at their best.

The Harriers’ men were also unlucky. They were led out by late replacement Rob Gibby, who produced a sterling display to get the green vests off to a top 10 start in a high class field.

The men’s race was over four 5km legs and John Fryer and Chris Sellens both achieved excellent times, before Allen Smalls ran a strong run on the anchor leg to bring the Colchester club home in fourth slot.

The ‘B’ team were also in the top 10, thanks to great runs by Colin Ridley, Jon Nears, Anthony Barraclough and Paul Helliwell.

Darren McGill’s Championship debut was good, as he got the ‘C’ team off to a flyer, and debut man Simon Smith, plus old-handers Pat Marsh and Jason Bilton, gave the team a top half finish.

n Marc Driscoll, of Colchester Harriers, is edging back to form as he led the Essex club’s charge at the latest Colchester Parkrun.

Driscoll clocked 20mins 07secs for seventh place, while team-mate Richard Millward posted his first top 10 finish with 20.29.

James Taylor’s Parkrun debut saw him home in 21.35 for the 5K course. Other Harriers to finish were Danny Millward (22.15), Joe Millward (personal best of 22.41), Mel Moore (23.19), Michaela Clarke (23.36), Rachel Abbott (25.56), and Liz Cudmore (26.17).

n At the Pleshey Half-Marathon Championships, 70-year-old John Wheatley, of Colchester Harriers, took his age group title and the gold medal in 1hr 43mins.

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