Gloucestershire XC League Round 1 - Cirencester Park

24 November 2023

Cheltenham Harriers start cross country League season with individual and Team victories

The first round of the Gloucestershire AAA Cross-country League saw a combined junior/ senior squad of 76 Cheltenham Harriers athletes travel to a very wet and grey Cirencester Polo Club. In what is always a popular League, there were 586 runners competing across all ages on the day. Overnight conditions had been so poor that the ground was already saturated as the rain started again as the first races assembled.

Cirencester Park did not disappoint with lots of rain, mud, hills and determination. There was no easy part of the course that offered any respite from the conditions making it a tough race for the ladies. 
The scoring team for the Seniors was made up of Jane Fairbairn (21st), Ellie Balfe (27th) and Jo Wilkie (31st) which was also the Harriers' scoring Masters team. Other Masters scoring well were Adele Potts as 2nd LV35 and Clare Hawling the 2nd LV60 finishing. After the first outing the Masters are well placed in 3rd, battling Team Bath and CLC Striders. The Open finds us in 10th with a bit of work to do against the ever competitive University of Bath and strong clubs like Western Tempo, Cirencester, CLC and Stroud. The team are looking forward to a good turnout in race 2 in Bath on the 2nd December.

Watching the Under 11 races demonstrates the strength and reach of the competition, with the top 8 places in the boys event coming from seven different Clubs. George Marriot was first Harrier home in 5th place, and along with Henry Simpson in 10th  and Lucas Oliveira in 12th made up the the Cheltenham A Team who took victory on the day.

In the under 11 girls, a fantastic run from Jess Bailey gave her a deserved first place. With Elena Williams following in 6th and Niamh Pettingell in 8th, the Harriers A Team won on the day. Proving the strength in depth, the Harriers B Team placed second, through Avery Church in 9th, Anna Richardson 15th and Poppy Limb 22nd.

In the under 13 boys, there was another win for the Harriers, with Al Spurr coming in first nearly 10 seconds clear of 2nd place. Theo Green in 12th and Seb Sheppard in 21st making up the A Team placing 2nd overall.

The under 13 girls are particularly strong this season, and took their form from the recent Midland XC events into this match. Megan Cowley was first Harrier home in 3rd place, with Rosie Atkins 5th and Ellie Thomson 9th giving them the overall Team win.

Moving to the u15s, in the girls event, Maddie Thomson had another excellent run making light of the conditions. Going out strongly from the start she controlled the race throughout to take a deserved win by a margin of 26 seconds. Followed in by Jess Sheppard in 7th and Rosie Reynolds 8th  they took a hugely impressive win in the Team event, well clear of Team Bath in 2nd.

In the boys, Teddy Spurr just missed out on bragging rights to his brother who had earlier won the u13 race but still placed a very strong 2nd. Next Harriers home Rhys Haines in 5th and Elijah Marsden in 13th made up the A team taking 2nd in the Team competition.

Moving to the u 17s, Sam Wilson had a fantastic run to finish well clear to record another Harriers first place finish, winning by 61 seconds. In the 17 women’s race, Izzy Watt looked strong, coming in 2nd place.  With Harriet Smith following in 3rd and Milly Foster finishing in 6th place, it was another overall Team win for the Harriers.

With such a positive start to the League season, the Harriers squad will now look forward to Round Two in December, which takes place at Bath University, and encompasses the County Championships.