Manx Harriers sent a large party to compete in the 2017 Lancashire Cross Country Championships at Whitton Park, Blackburn, as they have done every year since 1992. For the first time the group were hit by fog which disrupted travel arrangements and meant 5 of the younger athletes either did not travel or missed their events. In addition one of the team who attempted to get off the Island by boat on the Friday evening to Heysham also failed to make it to the North West port and so missed the event which caused the loss of a possible team medal in the under 17 boys championship event. Club organisers had a rather busy morning as a number of contingency plans were made and then re-made as possible timings for flights changed. To cut a long story short the team flew at approximately 11am nearly 4 hours after the scheduled time and arrived with minutes to spare before the Under 17 male and female athletes ran. Credit to the Lancashire County organisers who ran the later races with a 30 minute delay to allow the Harriers a chance to compete.
A group of Northern athletes and others from Manx Harriers were already at the venue having traveled in difficult conditions on Friday. Thus Macy Hillier won the under 11 title dominating the race and winning in style.
She added to her silver from last year winning by 14 seconds. In the under
11 boys race Samuel Perry of Northern came 6th while in the same position in the Under 13 Girls race was Ella Crowe. In the Under 15 Girls event the Northern Club had a great success as their team of Lorna Spiers in fourth place (a fine run) and Phoebe Coates 5th, Kate Kashin 7th and Alice Kashin 8th ran away with the team title ably supported by Lydia Morris in 19th position. This is the first team championship won by the club and could be the first of many for this talented group of runners.
Unfortunately for Manx Harriers in these younger races Regan Corrin, Ryan Corrin, Jodie Vaughan, Holly Burgess and Mairi Harrison were unable to compete due to the weather enforced delays.
The under 17 event saw George and Laura Dickinson run from the bus to the start line, put on race numbers and then compete with no warm up. Not ideal preparation. They joined David Mullarkey on the start line. David ran a fine race beating rival Nathan Dunn clearly, however, Simon Jones of Liverpool Pembroke ran a great race. For David this silver medal was an excellent performance and his rivalry with Jones and Dunn in the major Championships this winter will be interesting to watch. George Dickinson stuck to his task well but suffered a little due to the late arrival finishing in 9th place. However, twin Laura ran the race of her life to come home clearly in third place and so win a well deserved medal. She did this whilst losing her shoe at the half way point and persevering in the muddy conditions. She would surely have been even closer to silver had this not been the case and it is a fine testament to her tenacity. In this age group Alex Bell unfortunately did not make it to the start line.
So the scene was now set for the delayed start to the Women’s race. The athletes from Manx Harriers were a little rushed in their race preparations but you would not guess from the way they got stuck into their task. They were joined by Becky Storrie of Northern AC who trains with a number of the squad on a regular basis. After 3 gruelling laps on a muddy course with the dreaded saucer to make things even more interesting the results saw 5 Manx runners in the first 9 athletes to finish. Rachael Franklin returning from nearly 18 months of injury came home in 3rd place having lost a shoe during the race also! This was a fine return to form and hopefully a successful summer season will ensue. Next to finish was Elissa Morris making her off Island Cross Country Debut. Elissa ran a great race coming home in 5th place and she has much promise in the event in the future. Gail Griffiths again showed her toughness as she came home in 7th place and won the over 50 Ladies event. Next to finish was Northern’s Becky Storrie in 8th overall and first in the Under 20 race.
Becky also has returned to training recently after a bout of injury and showed her potential with yet another great run. Next home was last year’s second placer Karen Shimmin. Once more Karen has struggled with injury in recent weeks but again stuck to the task well. Caroline Mayers finished the race well in 22nd place and took 3rd in the over 45 age group. The Manx Harriers ladies combined to utterly dominate the team race and so taking the team gold. In the last 6 years the squad has won 5 times a major achievement.
The final race saw a mixture of stalwarts and inexperience take to the line as the Senior, veteran and under 20 men got going. Over 140 took part, by far the biggest field of the day. Alan Corlett ran a storming race to record the best performance of his career at the Lancashire Championships coming home in 5th place. Next to finish was Mike Garrett in 28th place and 2nd in the over 45 category while 42nd saw Gianni Epifani finish and bring home Bronze in the over 45 event. Stephen Garrett was 4th counter in 44th and under 20 Joe Ricciardi was 69th (10th under 20 over the line). Paul Rodgers brought the team home in 71st place. They finished 6th with 259 points. Ollie Dickinson ran well returning to the Lancs after a number of years of absence finishing 88th while Andy Falconer making his debut came 116th and gained valuable experience for the future.
So Manx Harriers brought home 9 medals 3 Gold, 2 silver and 4 Bronze. In addition the Island also saw two other Gold Medals won by Northern AC. So concluded a day that began frustratingly for the locals but ended up with some major success.