Athletics – Stevenage’s ‘Three Musketeers’ run muddy nationals as part of Fairlands Valley Spartans dirty dozen

PUBLISHED: 14:08 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:27 27 February 2018

Fairlands Valley Spartans Tim Robinson Jim Brown Paul Whyte. Credit Penny Schenke

Fairlands Valley Spartans Tim Robinson Jim Brown Paul Whyte. Credit Penny Schenke

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Half a dozen talented Fairlands Valley Spartans competed in the English National Cross Country Championships.

Half a dozen talented Fairlands Valley Spartans competed in the English National Cross Country Championships.

The hardy 12 battled eight to 12 kilometeres of hills and through gruelling sticky mud during the prestigious championships as more than 2,300 men and 1,100 women attacked the course from the Lido in Parliament Hill Fields on Saturday.

The women were first off at 2.20pm for their eight kilometre race and 44:27 later Lauren Ing made it over the finish line. Soon after Hazel Smith was back in with a time of 45:06. Sharon Crowley, Penny Schenkel, Peta Wilson and Callie Chapman also finished.

At 3pm the men set off for their 12 kilometres of hills and gooey mud with David Riddell going round in an excellent 56:15 with Todd Gray also beating the hour with 57:18.

Despite Tim Robinson doing a spectacular muddy roll at five kilometres, Jim Brown sliding off course, they and Paul Whyte – labelled the Three Musketeers – kept together and joked, shouted and encouraged each other round before managing a sprint finish to entertain the spectators.

The other Spartans to complete the contest was Thomas Sauka.

Jim said afterwards: “This year twelve Fairlands Valley Spartans raced, six women and six men and the club finished with counting teams in the men’s and women’s events – a tremendous achievement.

“It was fantastic taking part in such a prestigious event. The standard at the fast end was incredible. A great day out.”

Clearly needing no rest the Three Musketeers were out again on Sunday for the Baldock Beast Half Marathon as Robinson, Brown and Whyte ran along with Erica Grayson and Karen Palmer in tackling the cold headwind.

Tim dropped off the pace slightly after a cross country section on icy patches around Sandon and Rushden but the others kept a steady rhythm going with good humour which led to the unexpected bonus of Karen dipping under two hours with 1:59:56 in 251st place.

*Dave Bowker ran the 3,000 metres at the Lee Valley Indoor Championships finishing in 11:40.

*Brian White was awarded club champion and Spartan of the Year at Fairlands Valley Spartans presentation evening, dinner and disco on Friday evening with Suzy Hawkins awarded women’s champion for 2017.

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