Rugby & Northampton AC men’s team made a solid start to their Birmingham League Cross Country campaign when they finished in 12th place after being promoted back to division one this season.
The opening race of the four-match series took place at Leamington’s Newbold Comyn and the 10k three-lap course proved to be very testing with mud, hills and a water-filled ditch to cross.
Leading home the 16-strong squad for R&N was Hywel Davies in a time of 36 mins 26 secs to finish in 44th place, which bettered his 61st from his only previous race in this division in 2004.
The 38-year-old Welsh athlete, whose main sport is triathlon, hasn’t led home his club since he finished second in a division three race for Rugby & District at Princethorpe in January 2002, but this year looks set to once again help his club maintain their status quo.
Seb Palmer chased Davies all the way and was rewarded with 51st spot on 36.42 and Chris Perez followed in 69th with 37.30.
Matt Howes was the next scorer for the team when he crossed the line on 39.06 for 115th position and making his debut in the Birmingham League was Iain Botheroyd just 10 seconds further back in 119th to make him the first veteran over-40 for the club.
Also, in his first league race was Steve Marshall and he completed the scoring six in 129th place with 39.39.
With the bottom three teams from 16 being relegated, R&N are already more than 100 points clear of the relegation zone.
The B team consisted of the four long-serving stalwarts from the Northampton section, but were split by the two youngest finishers from the club.
Brendan Moen and Vince Carroll have been competing in the league for over 20 years and their times of 40.41 and 41.22, placed them 156th and 171st respectively.
Steve Milner followed (187th in 42.11) and debutante Paul Jolliffe recorded 42.29 (192nd ).
Brian Summers, now 49, was timed at exactly 43 mins for 198th and appropriately closing off the B team was Terry Egan in his 99th Birmingham League race with 45.38 ( 236th ). The team finished in ninth spot.
Also completing the course were Pete Thomas (242nd in 46.17), Max Chippington (247th in 46.54), first-timer Ian Husband ( 252nd in 47.43) and John Saw ( 273rd in 50.53).