Oliver Makinson leads down the home straight from Ben Forrest
The freezing wind and waterlogged course made it a hard day for competitors in the third of the four Red Rose Cross League fixtures at Bolton’s Leverhulme Park.
Bury counted three individual victors in the races with Francis Woodcock winning the under 13 boys race in an exciting sprint finish; Oliver Makinson taking the under 15 boys event, just ahead of club mate Ben Forrest and Sophie Whittaker running out as a clear winner in the under 17 ladies race.
There were also seven team victories for Bury Athletic Club to celebrate. The under 11 boys notched the first victory of the day with Gilbert Vaughan producing an excellent run to secure 5th place, with Noah Carter just one place behind. Rory Pixton was the final team counter in 10th, giving a team score of 21, one point ahead of second placed Blackburn.
Next team win went to the under 13 girls, with Daisy Worthington finishing strongly to take 3rd place, supported by Charlotte Farnworth (10th) and Erin Kenyon (11th). Their collective score of 24 eased them 4 points ahead of the strong Rossendale Team.
With Oliver Makinson and Ben Forrest finishing first and second in the under 15 boys race, the question was how well the Club’s third finisher would do, especially as Marcus Dey was missing. George Yates ran strongly to take 11th place, giving Bury a clear team victory over Leigh Harriers.
The under 17 men packed well to bring them the team victory. Sam Brooks continued his fine form with 5th place; Patrick Watson took 8th and Iestyn Rimmer 11th to seal victory over Clayton-Le-Moors.
There was extra reason for joy for the under 20 women, with Christie Cook celebrating her birthday by leading the team home to victory, taking 3rd place ahead of Lauren Booth (4th) and Eleanor Boyle (7th). Not to be outdone by the ladies, the under 20 men’s team also secured team victory, with Benn Heywood taking 5th place, supported by an improving Jack Brown (8th) and Rob Granby (9th). It is particularly pleasing to see Bury putting out teams in these age categories where many clubs struggle to retain competitive athletes.
The final team victory of the day came from the senior ladies. Caitlin Cole, who had travelled down from Edinburgh University to support the team, ran an excellent race to take 3rd place. Primary schoolteacher Laura Evans demonstrated her natural talent in finishing 6th, just ahead of Ladies Team Captain Donna Cartwright in 8th. Their collective score of 17 points put Bury 36 points ahead of second placed Accrington. Donna was Bury’s first counter in the veteran ladies event (4th), with Katie Geelan (5th) hot on her heels, Jenny Yates underlined her improvement to take 32nd to bring Bury home as third placed team.
The senior men also secured third team overall. Ben Coop shrugged off injury to take 15th place, with Jim Ardin, making a welcome return to the team, taking 19th place and holding off the fast finishing Dave Cullen. Tony Cullen produced his best run over the country this season to take 24th, followed by Benn Heywood (35th) and Jack Brown (81st). In the veterans category, the men also took third place team, with Jim and Tony supported by Les Smalley and Giles Bennett to wrestle third place from Trawden by just one point.
In the other age categories there were good runs from Freya Potts and Katie Rayner for the under 11girls team and Lucy Alcock and Ellie Carter for the under 15 girls team. It was marvellous to see so many Bury vests in all of the races over the afternoon.
Special mention should also be made to Bury official Jean Simpson MBE, who braved the freezing wind in the finishing funnel for many hours when the night before she had been honoured by Bury Council with an Unsung Hero Award for her work for local athletics.