Hanlon shines as Leamington retain Birmingham League top-flight status

Callum Hanlon takes on the ditch. Pictures: Lou Smith
Callum Hanlon takes on the ditch. Pictures: Lou Smith

Leamington C&AC’s men stormed to their best Birmngham Cross-Country League performance for many years at their home venue of Newbold Comyn on Saturday.

Despite supplying officials, marshals and helpers, the club still fielded 27 runners, ending the day seventh of the 16 Division One clubs with a season’s-best score of 316 to finish 11th overall and secure their top-flight status for a fourth season.

Leamington C&AC's Paul Andrew exits the ditch as clubmate Phil Gould approaches the water feature.

Leamington C&AC's Paul Andrew exits the ditch as clubmate Phil Gould approaches the water feature.

Now able to utilise the old golf course but still include the water ditch and Beacon Hill, two 5k laps greeted runners for the last race of the campaign.

Callum Hanlon was again the man to lead the Red, White and Blues home with a strong performance throughout for 12th in a time of 34min 48sec, a minute-and-a-half behind the runaway winner, Omar Ahmed, from Birchfield Harriers.

Leamington had another seven runners in the top 100, with Dom Priest (39th in 36:50) just managing to stay ahead of Andy Savery (41st in 37:07). They were supported by Greg West, making a welcome return, in 69th (38:31), Paul Andrew (72nd in 38:36) and a fast-finishing Guy Allen (83rd in 39:08).

This meant, for the first time since taking up cross-country running, club captain Phil Gould finished outside of the scoring A team.

Men's race winner Omar Ahmed

Men's race winner Omar Ahmed

He did, however, lead the B team to third place on the day and third for the season, finishing a place and two seconds behind Allen.

The remainder of the scoring five packed into the next 40 places, again confirming the strength in depth at the club.

Jack Savage was again in the mix in 92nd (39:22), with Dean Mawby (104th in 39:52), Frazer Knowles (113th in 40:25), Chris Rawcliffe (119th in 40:40) and Dominic Hull (124th in 41:01) completing the scorers.

The final race of the Midlands Women’s League took place earlier in the afternoon, with runners taking on a slightly shorter first lap which reduced their distance to around 6k.

Runners set off at the start of the Midlands Ladies Cross-Country.

Runners set off at the start of the Midlands Ladies Cross-Country.

Leamington were again well represented, with Hannah Thorne leading the 17-strong team home in tenth place.

She was supported by Nathalie Bhangal (16th) and Megan Rothman (20th), with the ever-present Zara Hadfield being the team’s fourth counter in 26th place as Leamington finished fifth overall.

Monica Williamson finished 30th and was the first counter for the masters’ team, who were fourth on the day.

Jenny Jeeves (48th) and Courtney Depala (83rd) completed the masters’ counters.

Kate Gadsby is chased down by Bethan Gwynn.

Kate Gadsby is chased down by Bethan Gwynn.

Kenilworth Runners’ ladies’ masters’ team had their best result of the season, placing seventh, although they were not able to improve on their overall league position of tenth.

Emma Ford was first home for Kenilworth and 23rd overall in a time of 25:25, with Marie Matthews 29th in 25:49.

Rachel Miller was first for the masters’ team in 26:52 for 44th place.

Emma Garnett (59th in 27:34) was the second master and also completed the seniors’ scoring quartet, with Stef Lunn (70th in 28:26), making up the masters’ scorers.

Scoring for Spa Striders’ ladies were Jo Fleming, Claire Davidson, Laura Peake and Fiona Ferguson, bringing the team home in ninth place.

Fleming, Davidson and Peake also made up the masters’ team, placing fourth, sixth and 12th respectively to earn Striders the runners-up spot.

Hannah Thorne

Hannah Thorne

Sophie Tarver from Loughborough Students won the race in 22:34 and there were 160 finishers.

Kenilworth Runners’ men went into the final race of the Birmingham Cross-Country League Division Two campaign at Telford knowing they needed to overturn a significant points deficit to get ahead of Newcastle (Staffs) AC and clinch promotion.

Ultimately, despite a strong showing in races two, three and four, the damage had been done in the opening race at Burton Dassett.

Runners can be proud, however, of a fourth-placed finish, with a gap of more than 200 points to fifth-placed Dudley & Stourbridge Harriers.

Luke Morgan was the first finisher for Kenilworth Runners at Telford, coming home in tenth in a time of 33min 29sec.

Ben Taylor (14th in 34:08) and Andy Crabtree (19th in 34:25) also secured positions inside the top 20.

Dewi Williams (34th in 35:23), George Crawford (40th in 35:36) and Kev Hope (54th in 36:32) were the other scorers.

The final standings for the junior men were also positive, with Oliver Flippance finishing third for the season, Ryan Baker sixth and Oliver Lunn seventh.

Ian Allen from Spa Striders won the race in 31:54, finishing 38 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger, Royal Sutton Coldfield’s Oliver Harradence.

The win, Allen’s second from his three runs (he was runner-up in his other appearance), helped him take the individual divisional title.

Close behind him on the day was Chris Mckeown (33:48), who placed 12th on the day and tenth overall for the series.

He was followed by fellow counters Adam Notley (45th in 36:03), Steven Taylor (58th in 36:40), John-Paul Hunt (86th in 38:00) and Chris Liddle (119th in 39:24) as Striders came home in ninth to end the season in sixth.