Article by Claire Cameron, sports writer, Bury Times
THE pleasant autumnal conditions and flat fast course suited Bury athletes as they delivered top performances at Leigh Sports Village in the first Red Rose cross country league fixture of the year.
First race to get away was the 2km under-11s boys’ event. Bury took fourth team place with scoring athletes Gilbert Vaughan (11th), Noah Carter (12th) and Harry Yates (13th) packing well.
In the u11s girls’ race (2km), the Bury team took third place overall. Freya Potts ran strongly to take fourth place, supported by Abigail Howard (18th) and Amelia Yates (19th). It was excellent to see a total of 25 Bury competitors in the field of 104 young athletes.
In the 2.5km u13s boys’ race Francis Woodcock produced an excellent run to take second place and lead the Bury team to third overall. The other scorers for Bury were Oliver Donnelly (19th) and Jack Andrew (23rd).
Daisy Worthington used her track speed to great effect, to sprint clear to win the u13s girls’ 2.5km race in what was the closest race of the day with just two seconds separating the first three finishers.
The victory also ensured Bury won the team race with Charlotte Speakman-Farnworth (11th) and Katherine Townsend (21st) completing the scoring. It was good to see young Erin Kenyon running well to take 23rd place.
The team event of the day was in the 4km u15s boys race. Marcus Dey controlled the race from the gun to claim the win, 10 seconds clear of teammate Oliver Makinson in second place producing his trademark strong run.
Making his debut in the age group, Ben Forrest produced a storming run, working his way through the field to take fourth place just 10 seconds behind Oliver. This made the Bury trio very comfortable winners of the team race.
In the 4km u15s’ girls race, the Bury scorers packed well to take fourth place team. Heledd Rimmer ran well to take 10th place, followed by Ellie Carter who showed some real improvement over the country to take 14th. Melissa Thompson was the final scorer in 16th with Rebecca Froggatt hot on her heels in 17th.
Patrick Watson continued his excellent form, taking fourth place in the 5km u17s men’s race. Patrick led the Bury team to second place overall. He was supported by Iestyn Rimmer, who produced one of his best runs over the country, to take eighth place. Final scorer was Sam Brooks running strongly in 12th place.
Sophie Whittaker was the sole Bury competitor in the 5km u17s ladies event. However, what Bury lacked in quantity in the field, Sophie made up for in quality as she won the race with a very strong finish to edge out the second-placed Rossendale athlete.
In the combined junior and senior ladies race, Caitlin Cole produced the best race of her career so far to take second place behind Darwen’s Joanne Nelson. Caitlin led the Bury team to victory, supported by Katie Geelan (fifth) and Donna Cartwright (15th), holding off the fast finishing Nicola Harland (20th).
Geelan and Cartwright were also point scorers in the veterans event, where Bury were also the winning team. The third scorer was Jenny Yates in 39th overall.
Not to be outshone, the junior ladies also secured the team victory with Lauren Booth first junior home, followed by Eleanor Boyle (third) and Lizzie Howard (fourth).
The final race of the day was the 10km senior and junior mens’ race. Ben Coop led the Bury team, taking 20th place in the high quality field and holding off the fast finishing Dave Cullen (21st). Benn Heywood was the next Bury finisher in 27th, just ahead of Tony Cullen in 29th. There was then a gap to the next finisher, Rob Granby (63rd) getting past Stuart Hodgkinson (65th) in the last 400metres. This completed the six scorers in the Bury team who took fourth out the 18 teams. Running as juniors Benn (third) and Rob (sixth) were joined by Jack Brown (seventh) to win the junior race. In the veteran category, Tony (eighth) and Stuart (29th) were joined by Giles Bennett (43rd) and Mark Johnson (46th) to take fifth veteran’s team place.