Squirrels in with a shout of honours

North Herts Road Runners are locked in a titanic struggle in the Three Counties Cross-Country League. The Letchworth-based club were runners-up to reigning champions Wootton Road Runners from Northampton at the fourth fixture hosted by East Haddon in Nort

North Herts Road Runners are locked in a titanic struggle in the Three Counties Cross-Country League.

The Letchworth-based club were runners-up to reigning champions Wootton Road Runners from Northampton at the fourth fixture hosted by East Haddon in Northants,

This left both clubs tied on 46 points and the destiny of the championship will to be decided at the final race of the season in February.

Although missing a few key personnel, 42 Squirrels tackled a hilly and muddy five-mile course in cool conditions.

Neil Miller won his fourth consecutive men's race and he was ably backed up in the scoring positions by Nick Beresford (seventh), Steve McKeown (13th), Gary Cook (14th), John Russell (18th), Pete Northover (21st) and John Franklin (52nd).

Astrid McKeown (second), Paula Adams (fourth) and Melissa Winters (fifth) secured a victory for the ladies.

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The outcome of the championship could well be decided by the club's non-scoring runners, who play a vital role in suppressing the scoring values of the other teams.

With everything to play for, the deciding fixture will take place on February 11 at Dunstable.

Thirty Stevenage and North Herts AC members were at Slough for the fourth race in the Chiltern Cross-Country League on Saturday.

They maintained their fourth place in Division Two of the league.

The lack of seniors in the club makes it hard to get up into the First Division but as the two divisions are run together, the club's youngsters get competitive races and perform to a high standard.

Two teams were placed first in their age groups.

In the junior women's age group, Sara Bailey won again, with Jo Mansell second, Becky Newstead sixth, Jasmine Forde eighth and Tilly Scheuber 11th. Jo's run won her the under-17 age group.

The under-15 girls' team, strengthened by girls who usually play football on Saturdays, also won their age group.

Vicky Little finished in third place followed by Chloe Vernon-Hamilton in fifth, Tash Little in sixth and Amy Pring (13th), Louise O'Connell (16th) and Denise Naylor (18th).

Their next highest placed team, in second place, were the under-13 girls' team, where Hannah Dewhurst was third, newcomer Clare Ward 10th and Sarah Pike 13th, followed by Bethany Hills (17th), Temi Fajobi (20th) and Charlotte Baird (24th).

The lone club athlete in the under-13 boys' event, Paul Spicer, finished in third place. By a quirk of the scoring system, he was also the third team!

Two other third placed teams were the under-15 boys, led by Lewis Keeble (eighth), Luke Langley (10th), Warren Herridge (13th), David O'Connell (14th) and David Pickett (15th), and the under-17 men with Josh Moss eighth and Louis Naylor in ninth place.

Another new member, David Dawdling, finished in 38th place in the under-11 boys' race.

The senior, junior and veteran men run as one race.

Marcus McKechnie was in fifth place overall (first junior), Dan Poulton in seventh (second junior), Adam Searle 11th and Sam Poulton 27th (third junior).

Clifton schoolboy and Bedford and County athlete Ryan Parker won again at the league race in Slough.

Club colleague Samantha Cutler from Stotfold had her best finish to date as she finished sixth overall in a field of 71 athletes and fourth in Division One.

She is currently lying eighth in the league table with one match left in February.

Samantha will be competing in London this weekend at the South of England Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 1500m, her first race in the under-17 age group.

There were 43 Fairlands Valley Spartans who turned out on a chilly but bright Sunday morning to race round Stevenage in their annual handicap road race for the Bryan Moore Shield.

Not only did Graham Preston win the event, he was also the fastest runner with a time of 1-03:26.

He crossed the line 61 seconds ahead of David Clark (race time 1-13:57) and 2:22 ahead of Anthony White (race time 1-17:30).

The women's winner, Claire Pullen, was also the fastest female with a time of 1-16:32.

She finished 40 seconds ahead of Sara O'Callaghan (race time 1-24:42) who was just two seconds in front of third placed Amanda Brook (race time 1-17:14).

Winner of the associated five-mile handicap race was Doug Hall who was 25 seconds ahead of Chris Leigh. Doug's running time was 45:07.

First woman was Nikki Nation in 45:34. Three other women - Katrina Doyle, Susan Leigh and Veronica Maguire - were only four seconds behind Nikki.

Mark Beasley ran his fastest 10-mile race in 11 years and he finished in 1-09:56.

Five Spartans took part in the Genk marathon in Eastern Belgium.

In ideal weather conditions, sunny and cool, the course involved seven interesting laps of a scenic wooded area just outside Genk.

Times: Roger Biggs 3-42:48, Frances Ridgway 3-46:21, Mike Newbitt 3-47:32, Mark Sanders 4-57:59, Michaela Sanders 4-57:59.

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