ATHLETICS: R&N make slick start to league campaign

Rugby & Northampton Senior Ladies finished seventh in the Midlands  Counties Cross Country Relay Championships
Rugby & Northampton Senior Ladies finished seventh in the Midlands Counties Cross Country Relay Championships

Rugby & Northampton made the perfect start to the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League, cruising to victory in the first match of the 2017/18 season.

The season opener was hosted by Leamington CAC, taking place at Hatton Country World, where 20 clubs competed.

After last year’s second-placed finish, R&N got up and running with a huge winning total of 6,798 points, 546 more than reigning champions Wolverhampton & Bilston.

Five of the club’s eight age groups emerged victorious, with the Under-17 men adding to clean sweeps from the two U11 and U13 teams.

Both U15 teams finished third, and the U17 women were fourth to cap a stunning day in Warwickshire.

The U13 girls were the stars of the show, with Alice Bates, Olivia Williams and Elspeth Unitt finishing first, second and third in the race, with the latter pair just one and two seconds behind Bates, who crossed the line in nine minutes and 33 seconds.

Another individual winner was Arthur Tilt, who led the way in the U11 boys’ race, finishing in 4:25, seven seconds clear of his closest competitor, and eight clear of fellow R&N runner Lewis Robson, who secured third spot.

There were top-three finishes in both U17 races too, with Muss-Ab Hassan second for the men.

The standard was set high with a winning time of 15:17, but Hassan fronted the chasing pack, clocking 15:42.

Amy Walker impressed for the women, with a time of 14:15 comfortably securing third in her race.

R&N had won the competition for seven straight years before the last campaign, and this was the ideal performance as the club bid to get their hands on the title once again.

Masters claim silver medal in Midlands

Rugby & Northampton had another medal-winning weekend, securing silver in an impressive performance at last Saturday’s annual Midlands Counties Cross Country Relay Championships.

The athletics club had teams competing in all senior and masters events at Wolverhampton, and it was the Men’s Masters who claimed the runners-up spot around the 6km circuit in Wolverhampton.

Stephen Marks led the team off in an excellent time of 22 minutes and 19 seconds, which was the second fastest time of the day. Dean Oldfield (23:21), John Gercs (23:46) and Mike Andrews (22:43) maintained that position to ensure the silver medal went to R&N.

The Senior Men impressed too, recording a fine finish of sixth, their best placing for several years. Led by Richard Latimer, 17th in 22:41, the team climbed back up the placings with Jack Bond — who had made the long trip from Exeter University — excelling, carving through the field with a time of 21:38. That put R&N seventh, and 800m track specialist Adam Wright went five seconds quicker to move up another place, which was maintained by Daniel Williams in 23:01.

The Senior B team also impressed, with Haydn Arnall’s 22:50 the quickest — he was accompanied by Joe Lantsbery (24:21), Lewis Cherry (23:49) and Finn Hutton (23:30) for an overall finish of 16th.

Emma Bond got things started for the Senior Ladies, running excellently to finish the first leg sixth, in 25:08. Then it was the turn of the Goddards, with Kirsty finishing in 29:12 and Bethan in 28:19, helping the team to a final position of seventh.

The Ladies Masters finished creditably, too, coming home in 11th place. Angela Copson’s 29:24 kicked things off, and she was followed by Minerva Chesser (32:32) and Efthymia Katsogi (33:43) to round off a good day’s work for R&N.