Cross Country: Westward League season opens in Redruth, Cornwall
CORNISH cross country runners, led by Peter Le Grice (Mounts Bay Harriers) and Miranda Heathcote (Newquay & Par), dominated the opening fixture of the Brooks Westward Cross Country League, held in perfect racing conditions at Redruth School on Sunday.
The traditional winter season's opening fixture, attracting clubs from Cornwall and Devon, provided the platform for Le Grice and Heathcote to treat a large crowd to barn storming winning performances in their respective Senior races.
In the Men's eight kilometre event, a very determined le Grice powered into the clear lead from the gun, challenging his rivals to "catch me if you can".
His bold move certainly took the chasing group by surprise, with no one opting to go with the Mounts Bay Harrier. This proved to be their downfall, as the relentless pace set by Le Grice helped him maintain his lead lap after lap.
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Despite being closed down by last year's overall Westward League champion Mark Jenkin (Bideford AC) in the closing stages, the impressive Le Grice crossed the finish line 20 metres ahead of runner up Jenkin.
The previous week's winner of the Newquay 10K Grand Prix race, Tony Brewer (Mile High) fought hard throughout the race, holding on to third place and holding off the challenge of last winter's overall third place finisher Dan Rodgers (Cornwall AC).
With the Devon athletes competing, many of the top Cornish runners did comment on the value of these races, where the quality of the opposition is so much higher than in local Grand Prix races.
The Men's team title over the past few years has been a battle between Cornwall AC and the current holders Exeter Harriers but at Redruth, the challenge to Cornwall AC came from Bideford, with the host club having to fight hard all the way, beating the North Devon club just seven points, with Exmouth Harriers being the surprise package in third position.
Miranda celebrated her recent selection for her first England vest in style, displaying the kind of form in the Senior Ladies five kilometre race, expected of an international runner.
The Newquay & Par athlete will be lining up for England Masters in the British and Irish International Cross Country race in Cardiff next month and on the form she showed at Redruth, looks to be in contention for a high placing in her age group.
With no serious opposition, Miranda ran a lone race at the front, winning by a huge margin of one minute 38 seconds, with Cornwall AC's Issy Steele, the Under 17 overall Ladies' winner for the past two years, in fifth place and Newquay & Par's evergreen Veteran Sharon Coyne in sixth.
A young Plymouth AC team edged out the Duchy's top two clubs in a very close team competition, with only 11 points separating the top three.
Plymouth beat a resurgent Newquay & Par by six points, with Cornwall AC third, a further five points behind.
Cornish clubs were almost totally dominant in the four Young Athletes races for Under 13 and Under 15 Boys and Girls, with only Erme Valley Harriers (Under 15 Boys winners) and Exeter Harriers (Under 13 Girls runners-up), preventing the top three positions in all four races being occupied by the Cornish clubs.
Newquay & Par provided the individual and team winners in both Under 13 races. In the Boys race, Finn Birnie and James Greenwood made it a clear cut one-two, leading their team to victory, ahead of Cornwall AC's A team with Cornwall AC's B team in third.
The Mid Cornwall club also had two in the top three in the Girls' race won by Elowen Penfold, who finished ten seconds ahead of Grace Brock (Cornwall AC), with another Newquay & Par runner, Rhianna Giles, third.
By coincidence the team positions mirrored the individual result, with Newquay & Par's A and B teams, sandwiching the Cornwall AC girls.
YoYo Barnsley was Cornwall AC's only individual winner of the day, controlling her Under 15 race from the early stages, never looking in any trouble, as she cruised to victory by a comfortable 23 second margin, leading her team to a 14 point win over Exeter Harriers.
Mounts Bay Harriers made a welcome team appearance in this age group and led by Ellie Ringwood (4th), finished third, just two points behind Exeter. In the Under 15 Boys event the Cornish clubs had to give way to Erme Valley Harriers, with Tom Slattery (Cornwall AC) finishing third, helping his club team to the runners-up spot, with Newquay & Par third. It was encouraging to see 45 youngsters taking part in the Under 11 Development Race.
The Boys' category was won by Siam Junker Kervet (Newquay & Par) who finished one second ahead of team mate B McLellan, with S Norton (unattached) in third place.
The Girls' section was won by another Newquay & Par youngster C Pettitt, with Olivia Iles (Cornwall AC) in second place and T Siddiqui (Newquay & Par) third.
For full results go to: www.ironbridgerunnerevents.co.uk/westward/index.html