Leamington C&AC’s men’s and women’s teams were not daunted by their step ups to Division One, finishing seventh and fourth on the opening days of their respective cross-country leagues.
The men’s team had not competed in the top flight of the Birmingham League since 2005/06, when they only lasted one season.
However, the 30-strong squad did not look out of place among the region’s elite athletes at Pittville Park in Cheltenham, with Callum Hanlon finishing first for C&AC and 21st overall in a time of 33min 49sec.
He was followed by seasoned cross-country runners Paul Andrew (34:54), Simeon Howson (35:30) and Phil Gould (35:42), with Kieran Chahal (36:19) and Lewis Fagge (36:52) making up the A team.
Chahal and Fagge, along with team-mates Greg West (38:42) and Alex Ibbs (41:46) provided an added boost in their first year as seniors.
West was also fifth counter for the B team which also finished in seventh place.
He was supported by Dean Mawby, who had a fantastic race, finishing as first counter for the B team in 36:55.
Dominic Hull (37:53), Richard Merrell (38:00), Jack Savage (38:28) and Gavin Fowler (39:49) completed a strong B line-up.
Other Leamington C&AC runners: John Knibb (40:32); Marc Curtis (40:42); Craig Bower (40:53); Tristan Warren (41:15); Steve Hundal (41:18); Jason Hill (41:31); Jordan King (41:42); James Joyce (43:03); Simon Perkin (43:11); Robert Wilson (43:37); Brian Miller (43:49); Andrew Higgins (45:06); Peter Stockbridge (45:36); Steve Roberts (46:17); Alex Montgomery (49:56); Sagar Depala (50:17); Graham Roberts (54:25)
Also competing in Division One, Kenilworth Runners’ A team finished ninth, while their B team was eighth.
Ben Taylor (35:20) was first home for Kenilworth in 56th position, with Andy Siggers (79th in 35:57), Connor Carson (95th in 36:30), Andy Crabtree (114th in 37:03), Kev Hope (119th in 37:21) and Stuart Hopkins (127th in 37:33) the other team scorers.
Other Kenilworth Runners finishers: Dewi Williams (37:57); Stanley Doxey (38:27); Matt Dyer (39:22); Wayne Briggs (39:55); Nicholas Williams (39:58); Peter Bryan(40:19); Jim Sawle (42:04); Bradlee Tod (42:20); Neil Cressy (44:08); Stewart Underhill (45:39); Michael Williams (46:12); Neil Emsden (52:45); Tom Dable (58:55).
Leamington’s ladies headed to Coundon Park, Coventry for the first fixture of the Midland’s Women’s Cross Country League, which comprised a two-lap course which saw rather boggy conditions for November as well as a challenging wooded section.
Kelly Edwards shrugged off a lack of sleep due to having six-month-old twins and a poorly toddler to run a strong race, finishing 29th overall in 27:23.
Zara Blower (33rd in 27:49), Monica Williamson (34th in 27:57) and Jenny Jeeves (38th in 28:03) packed well to complete the fourth-placed team.
With Edwards, Williamson and Jeeves also being eligible for masters’ status, a 47th-placed finish for Wendy Daniels (28:33) earned Leamington first place on the day.
Other Leamington C&AC runners: Saffia Del Torre (29:59); Courtney Thornberry (30:46); Shamira Naidu-Young (32:24); Eve Walpole (32:35); Sara Atkins (33:17); Laura Gould (33:20); Sara Wills (34:26); Carol Blower (35:16); Wendy Woodhouse (35:19); Judith Hanlon (35:44); Emma Matthews (37:06); Tara Fagge (37:18); Mary Donaldson (37:44); Helen West (38:01); Delia Caruana (38:46); Louise Marsh (40:00).
Kenilworth Ladies, who found themselves back in Division One after league restructuring despite finishing in the bottom three last season, were seventh of the 15 teams and runners-up to Leamington in the masters’ competition.
Frankie Gibbs had an excellent run, finishing 18th overall in 25:44, with Sarah Rose (37th in 28:03), Laura Pettifer (46th in 28:16) and Rachel Miller (75th in 30:05) being the scoring counters.
However it was Kenilworth’s strength in depth that was invaluable with the next five ladies finishing within 60 seconds of each other.
Other Kenilworth Runners finishers: Jane Phillips (30:20); Stef Lunn (30:21); Kelly Burnett Nicholl (30:32); Louise Andrews (30:34); Pamela Grimwade (31:20); Tina Crow (31:54); Jane Kidd (32:11); Bella Doxey (32:14); Shani Samarasekera (32:42); Michelle Oxtoby (33:48); Becky Phagura (34:00); Lucy Williams (34:05); Samantha Starvis (34:09); Linda Fullaway (34:12); Mel Knight (34:13); Elisse Breugelmans (34:13); Sally Hicks (34:31); Kerrie Flippance (35:04); Rachel Armstrong (35:32); Sophie Cookson (35:55); Amanda Holmes (36:57); Susie Blackwell (37:32); Samantha Moffatt (37:58); Pauline Dable (42:48); Kate Wilson (43:57); Fatema El-Wakeel (44:22).
Spa Striders finished 11th out of the 15 teams with their masters’ team coming home in fourth.
Spa Striders runners: Carolyn Wilkinson (29:07); Laura Peake (29:22); Kate Gadsby (29:45); Jo Fleming (30:01); Bethan Gwynn (30:01); Anne Hurrell (30:37); Helene Wright (31:36); Clare Hinton (31:51); Fiona Edwards (31:59); Claudine Piper (33:03;); Ruth Tennant (33:04); Lucy Tugwell (33:06); Amanda Wiggins 34:39; Jude Baum (34:57; Catherine Friggens (35:11); Monika Coleman (35:11); Lucy Marcovitch (35:20); Giada Pizzoni (39:26) and Kathleen McCann (40:53).
Spa Striders men’s squad made the trip to Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Telford to compete for the first time in Division Two after promotion last season.
The A team finished 13th out of 17 teams, while the B team were 12th out of 13 teams.
Sixteen men represented Striders, with Chris McKeown (60th in 33:24,), Paul Edwards (79th in 34:04), Adam Notley (88th in 34:30), Steve Taylor (111th in 35:18), Keith Wilson (114th in 35:25, ) and Jamie Phillips (151st in 36:23) the scoring six.
Other Spa Striders finishers: Simon Parsons (37:45); Chris Wilson (38:02); Gethyn Friswell (38:19); Clive Parpworth (38:41); Rob Thompson (38:43); Paul Quinney (39:24); Rob Egan (39:31); Graham Donaghue (42:39); Doug Rattray (42:58) and Pete Schofield (43:11).