2023 Gloucestershire Cross Country Championships

15 January 2023

14 golds, 9 silvers and 8 bronzes were won by Harriers at the 2023 edition of the Gloucestershire Cross Country Championships; that's 10 more medals than was won at the 2022 event!

It was brilliant to see our seniors leading by example and taking team gold in the men’s and women’s races, with the women's Masters team also winning bronze. The Harriers also produced a womens B team that ran well to finish 4th and a men’s masters team that finished 5th. Ciara Thornley led the women’s team home as 2nd female and 2nd U20, Nicole Frith was close behind as 3rd female and 1st senior. A strong run by Kate Alhadeff secured her 3rd senior and 7th female overall. Next Harrier across the line was Isobel Watt, impressing against older rivals, the U17 took gold convincingly in her category and was 11th female overall. Ellie Balfe won F40 bronze in 18th with Adele Potts one place behind in 19th. Jo Wilkie had a good run to finish as 4th F40 and 20th female, with Jane Fairbairn taking silver in the F45 category in 21st. Milly Foster was another U17 having to step up to compete against the seniors, Foster ran well to finish 24th and 4th U17. Hannah Randall completed the Harrier women in 31st place. In the same race Michael Ede won M65 gold.

(Photo: Senior men’s team)

In the men’s race Max Kelly won his first county medal with a brillant run for 2nd senior and 7th overall. Not much separated George Sheppard and Harrison miles in 16th and 17th (9th and 10th seniors). Martin Foster won a well deserved bronze in the M45 category finishing 25th overall and Matt Evans finished as 17th senior in 36th. Darren Dempsey, James Wilkinson and Ross Swain finished as 8th M40, 9th M40 and 22nd senior respectively. 

There were also double team golds for the U15G+B and U13G+B. The U15 boys demonstrated incredible strength in depth with the B team taking silver as well. From an individual point of view they took a 1-2-3 led by Sam Wilson. Wilson was able to pull 25 seconds clear of his teammate, Tom Wightman, who took second with arguably his best run of the cross country season so far. Ben Yates ran well to finish in 3rd place. The B team was made up of Lucas West in 6th, Edward Atkins in 7th and Harry Knight in 8th. In the U15 girls race Maddie Thomson and Bluebell Heath-Smith took silver and bronze with Jessica Sheppard completing the A team in 4th. Harriet Smith and Amelie Paul finished in 6th and 8th respectively. 

(Photo: Winning U15 girls team)

As mentioned the U13 boys and girls teams both took gold, but it was the girls who got two teams on the podium this time with the B team winning bronze. Two athletes who have clearly been in form this season are Olivia and Evie Avery swapping the win with each race. It was Olivia who got the better of her sister this time around pulling just 4 seconds clear and taking gold, with Evie earning the silver. Eleanor Thomson and Martha Marsden finished in 5th and 6th, with Rosie Atkins coming in 8th. The Harrier contingent was completed by Freya Braiden in 10th and Isla Harvey in 11th. Teddy Spurr and Jack Pennell have become accustomed to racing one another this season, with some close battles in the Gloucestershire League series. Spurr pulled clear to win gold with Pennell crossing the line 7 seconds later to win silver. Oliver Wilson had a good run to finish in 4th and Noah Seabright ran well for 14th. 

The youngest athletes of the day certainly didn’t lack depth either with the boys teams claiming 2nd, 4th and 5th and the girls teams taking an impressive 1st and 2nd!

Ivy Wightman ran brilliantly to take the individual U11 girls gold with Hattie Bennett also making the podium in 3rd. The A team was completed by Kimberley Hodgkinson in 4th. It was the determined performances of Elena Williams, Eliza Nolan and Avery Church in 6th, 8th and 11th, that earned the B team silver. Sapphire Meathrel made a brilliant debut in 13th place. 

In the boys race Monty Wilkins led the Harriers home in 4th, with Archie Lait finished 8th and Luca Oliveria 11th. There were three more Harriers within the top 20 with Sebastian Piff in 14th, Evan Lawler in 18th and Charlie Boughton in 19th. Running well Freddie Hole took 21st, Finn Lees 24th and Zachary Cherry 25th.