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Lancashire Cross Country Championships – Saturday 7th January 2023

Perhaps surprisingly, in view of all of the recent rain, the conditions at Witton Park, Blackburn for the Lancashire Cross Country Championships exceeded expectations and it was dry and mostly sunny! The ground wasn`t as soggy and as muddy as everyone anticipated, although the area around the famous “cow gate” was wet with ankle deep mud.

Albert Yates set the day off in fine style for Preston Harriers with a win in the u11 boys’ race, whilst Ellie Blackhurst was 2nd in the u11 girls race and Georgina Benson & Georgina Andrews were 5th & 6th respectively.

The u13 boys ran 3k and Harriers took the team medal for first place, with the counters being Samuel Ridgway (3rd), Hugh Smith (5th), Lewis Nelson (10th) and Samuel Bates (14th.) There was a dominant performance from Matthew Clark, who is enjoying a fine cross-country season, in the u15 boys’ race. He won the 3.8k race over forty seconds clear of 2nd placed Oliver Gill of Blackburn and the team won a silver medal. The other three team counters were: 6th Myles Fraser, 10th Tom Jepson and 16th Thomas Bates.

The u15 girls did win the team race, but disappointingly this wasn`t announced on the day as a team finisher wasn`t counted, and it took an appeal later to ensure the result was corrected; that meant that the girls sadly missed an opportunity to stand on the podium together to receive their winners’ medals. Over 3.8k, Molly Taylor finished 4th, Lola Huyton 7th , Lilly Washington 8th & Holly Moffatt 24th. Jenson Warren was 7th in the u17 men’s race and Zara Darkin won a bronze medal for 3rd in the u17 women’s race.

In the senior women’s race over 6.7k with three ascents of the “saucer”, five women broke clear early on with Ruth Jones (Salford) winning in 24.01. Nichola Jackson (Keswick) was 2nd and Phoebe Hayashi (Lancaster & Morecambe) 3rd. In 4th, always in touch, was Carla Davies who won a gold medal for being first vet 35. A very good performance, with two Great Britain mountain running international runners ahead of her.

The men ran 9.8k, with four ascents of the “saucer” with a larger leading group slowly being thinned out as the race progressed. Dan Bebbington (Blackburn) won in 31.46, 2nd was Chris Livesey (representing Salford) in 32.25 and 3rd was Ross Harrison (Liverpool Pembroke) in 32.46. Wes Wilkinson was highest placed for Preston, 28th in 36.30. The team were 3rd placed on the day and counters were Wesley Wilkinson, Luke Suffolk, Simon Collins, Louie Clark, Andy Whaley & Steve Bone. Rather pleasingly, a team 3rd place was also obtained in the vets category.

Those who finished in the top places, which are the first six at u13, u15, u17,men and women and first three at u20 qualify for automatic selection for the Lancashire inter county team for the Inter Counties cross country championships at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough on the 11th March.

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