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Steve on course at Birmingham

15th Nov 2005
Mike Skinner and Steve Vernon

Blackheath's Mike Skinner and Steve Vernon force the pace at the front in the UK Challenge Cross Country event at Birmingham.

Stockport Harriers' international cross country runner Steve Vernon was back in action on his favourite surface at a muddy Sennelys Park, Birmingham for the first round of the UK Challenge Cross Country series on Saturday.

Steve who has not raced since his fourth place in the European Mountain Championships has been in hard training for the last 10 weeks for the forthcoming European Cross Trials at Liverpool's Sefton Park on November 26th.

The Birmingham race over 10km is regarded as one of the tougher courses on the Challenge circuit and includes a water crossing on each of the 3 lap race.

Going into the last lap Steve and Blackheath's Michael Skinner were forcing the pace and were on their own with just the last water obstacle and a mile of the course to go.

At the crossing and having to make their way through the backmarkers who they were lapping, Steve slipped and fell in the knee high brook which gave the Blackheath athlete the initiative.

He was able to open a gap on the Stockport man who chased valiantly to the line but was beaten by 5 seconds in the end.

After the race Steve said "I dont like getting beaten but Mike was stronger on the day over the tough course but I will be ready for the trial in 3 weeks time at Liverpool".

Steve has to finish in the first six to make the team for the European Cross Championships in Holland on December the 11th.

The race series also includes races for the younger age groups giving them an opportunity to race against some of the countrys leading up and coming talent.

1,500 metre runner Ross Millington for Stockport made a good start to his cross season campaign finishing a solid 5th position in the under-17 men's race.

The 16-year-old will race again this weekend at the National Cross Relays in Mansfield over a lightning fast course where Ross has recorded the fastest lap in previous years.

Steve Vernon will also be heading for Mansfield running in the senior men's 4 x 5km race.

Junior relay teams show the way

Ross Millington takes the under-17s team up into 4th place

Ross Millington takes the under-17s team up into 4th place

Stockport Harriers competed in the National Cross-country Relays in Mansfield at the weekend with eleven teams competing across the age groups from under-13s through to the seniors.

The clubs juniors led the way with four of the teams finishing in the top ten places, highest being the men's under-17 three-some of Steve Pearson 14th in 9.34, Simon Bennett 13th in 9.47 and Ross Millington with a lightning 9.12 for the 3km course, only narrowly being beaten by Westbury Harriers for third place. Ross had cut through the field from 13th into 4th on the last leg to run the 6th fastest time on the day.

The boys' under-13 team finished a strong 6th team with Jack Nixon (7.23), Harry Long (7.27) and Michael Logue on the anchor produced the 10th fastest individual time in 7.07 making up 8 places by the end.

The girls' under-15 team also made the top ten in eight thanks to Michelle Wiblin fastest in 10th 7.23, Charlotte Barber 11th 7.39 and Leah Kay 7.24 moving the team up three places at the finish.

In the under-17 girls' race the team finished 9th, Ruth Jenyon who is coming into form was 26th in 9.47 handing over to Jess Coulson who raced through the field and into 3rd place with the second fastest leg of the day with 8.32. Only World Cross junior representative Steph Twell of Aldershot ran faster than Jess. Carla Stansfield ran 10.10, a good leg to keep the team in 9th at the finish.

The senior men's team came in 41st and had three junior men running in the team over the 5km course. Andy Nixon the youngest of the team led off finishing 43rd in 16.20 to hand over to GB international Steve Vernon who scorched through the field in 14.58 to 20th and 8th fastest on the day. 800 metre man Jon Walch, also a junior finished 33rd with Ben Styles in 41st in 17.35.

Jenny Knass ran the fastest leg in the ladies team

Jenny Knass ran the fastest leg in the ladies team

The senior women's team had a good turnout fielding three teams, the A team of Estelle McGuire (12.23), Jenny Knass (11.34) and Joanne Robertson (12.59) put in a good performance to finish 47th in the field of over 100 teams.

The B team had Liz Bowden (13.07), Sharon Glendon (13.28) and Helen Walch (12.53) finishing 65th while a C team included Allison Coulson (13.23), Marie Cosgrove (14.01 72nd), Karen McCrackle (12.59) and finished 67th.

Cross-country League - Round 2

This Saturday sees the second round of the combined men's and women's cross-country leagues at Macclesfield Leisure Centre, Priory Lane, Macclesfield.

Entry is free to all club members.

First race is the under-13 girl's race is at 12 noon, last event is the senior/under-20 men at 2.30pm.

Annual General Meeting and Senior Prize Presentation

Will take place in the Forbes Room at the Woodbank Community Centre on Friday 18th November 2005 starting at 7.30pm.

It will include presentation of the annual reports and accounts, election of new committee member and be followed by the presentation of the senior trophies at approximately 9.00pm.

European Cross Country Championship Trials

The European trial is this Saturday where Harriers' cross international Steve Vernon will be hoping for a place on the GB team as the UK Cross Challenge second leg hits Liverpool.

He will be joined by Stockport's up and coming youngsters who will race in the junior races, Andy Nixon runs in the under-20 UK trial for the first time, Ross Millington and Steve Pearson go in the under-17 men's race with English Schools' cross country runner 16-year-old Jess Coulson competing in the under-20 women's trial race.