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English National Cross Country Championships, Chester, 25th February 2023

Matthew Drummond Clark and Libby Huxley were the standout performers for Preston Harriers in the English national cross country championships at a dry but chilly Chester on Saturday. Matthew finished third behind Owen Ulfig of Wolverhampton and Bilston in 14 minutes, 42 seconds in a thrilling under-15 boys' race over four kilometres which saw just three seconds separate the first four runners. Libby, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the recent World cross country championships in Australia, was fourth in the junior women's section over 6km. She recorded 23.38, 20 seconds behind winner Beatrice Wood from City of Salisbury.

Preston's senior men finished a creditable 51st out of the 99 teams competing at the flat-ish, relatively mud-free course in the grounds of Bolesworth Castle which included a long uphill stretch to the finish line. Sam Evans (42.52) was their best finisher in the 12km run in which almost 1,500 raced. Wes Wilkinson (43.02), captain Simon Collins (45.35), Andy Whaley (47.38), David Lea (51.08) and Stephen Mort (53.41) were the team's other scorers. Michael Brown completed the seven-man line-up. Tonbridge's James Kingston (36.01) won the race while Leeds City took the team honours with Cambridge and Coleridge second and Tonbridge third.

Jamie Robinson (35.47) ran an impressive 8km race in a senior women's field of more than 750, finishing just over six minutes behind the winner, Belgrave Harriers' Sarah Astin.(29.28). Katey Markland (39.55), Julie Tyrer (51.18) and Sue Wickham (52.59), made up of the rest of the Preston team in the race in which Charnwood claimed the top team prize ahead of Aldershot Farnham & District and Hallamshire Harriers in third.

Elsewhere for Preston, Max Cunningham (35th), Max Holden (88th) and Louie Clark raced in the junior men, while Isabelle Cunningham (56th) competed with Libby Huxley in the junior women. Jenson Warren (56th), Zara Darkin (90th), Gordon Ballantyne (157th) and Samuel Ridgway (63rd) ran in the under 17 men, under 17 women, under 15 boys' and under 13 boys' sections respectively.


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