By Sean Topham:
A SQUAD of six athletes represented Louth Athletic Club at the gruelling ‘Grand National’ of cross country running held at Parliament Hill in London on Saturday.
The Saucony English National Cross Country Championships saw a record 5,283 runners finish across the 10 age group races – 600 more than the previous highest total.
It’s an awesome sporting spectacle and previous winners of the classic 139-year-old race have included Mo Farah, Steve Ovett, Gemma Steel and Paula Radcliffe.
The Parliament Hill course is a really tough slog with runners wading through knee-deep mud and trudging their way up steep, energy-sapping embankments – completing the race is a feat in itself.
First up for Louth was Natalie Stainton who finished in 221st place in the U17 women’s race (5km) followed by Declan Godfrey who was the 242nd to cross the line in the under-17 men’s event (6km).
Kerry Stainton (329th) and Jane Cope (726th) competed in the senior women’s race (8km) and Jason Stainton (1,170th) and Sean Topham (1,518th) ran in the senior men’s event (12km).
Senior race winners were Charlie Hulson of Sale Harriers and Lillian Partridge of Aldershot Farnham and District.
A team of the club’s younger members competed for Lincolnshire in the East Midlands Sportshall Finals at the Grantham Meres Leisure Centre last weekend.
Under 11s Freddie Rhodes and Matthew Spendlove along with under 13s Bea Spendlove, Toby Alexander and Reece Mee took part.
It was their first time competing at this high level and the club is very proud of the way they all performed at their best and enjoyed the experience.
They were up against athletes from Derbyshire, Leicestershie and Rutland, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.
Freddie competed in the obstacle relay, over and under relay, high-stepper, target throw and grand prix and Matthew raced in the obstacle relay, over and under relay, standing long jump, javelin and six lap paarlauf.
Bea competed in two lap sprint and shot, Toby in two relays and standing triple jump and Reece in two relays and shot.
And four of the club’s veteran athletes ran in the Sleaford Half Marathon on Sunday in a race that attracted almost 600 competitors.
Battling the wind as well as the 13.1 mile course, Kevin Wallis was first man home for Louth in 68th place (1.31.47) and Mick Dean was 209th in 1.44.33.
For the women Debbie Simpson was 226th in 1.46.09 and Fiona Lawrie 349th in 1.55.24.
Winning runners were Chris Nicoll from Derby Triathlon Club in 1.14.58 and Phillipa Taylor of Nene Valley Harriers in 1.27.58.
* Fancy a jog? The club has plenty of people on hand to help you on your way, whatever your ability. Training nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays. Visit www.louth-ac.org.uk for details.