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English National
Cross Country Relay Championships

Report by: Bryan Murray

11th November 2000 - Berryhill Park, Mansfield

The English Cross Country Relays took place recetly, with this year's event attracting 650 teams from all over the country in all age groups. Wakefield Harriers entered teams in the senior women's, U15, U17 and U13 girls' events.

Wakefield's senior women upheld the North's tradition in women's cross country by beating all but Shaftesbury Barnet in the senior women's event.

Sale Harriers, who have won all this year's previous senior women's national events, were relegated to third in this final national event of the year, with the course - after recent heavy rain, although muddy in parts - surprisingly good, although tough.

On the first leg, Tara Krzywicki, daughter of the Huddersfield Town winger, seemed to float over the mud in the excellent time of 10:07 mins - some 17 seconds short of the record for the course.

Penny Thackray, unable to match the pace of Tara or Bedford runner Sharon Morris at the start, found herself in the pack alongside Wakefield B runner Sharon Marshall. She quickly established her position in fourth spot and retained that to the end of her leg.

On the second leg, Julie O'Mara powered her way to second, only to lose second place to the Sale runner in the 200m sprint at the end of her leg.

Lucy Elliot, from Shaftesbury Barnet, won the second stage to give them a commanding lead, but Wakefield's glory leg runner Shirley Griffiths soon re-established second place for Wakefield - passing the Sale runner on first uphill section and hung on gamely to finish 44 seconds behind the winners, but 11 seconds in front of bronze medallists.

The U15 girls race of 2000m per leg was strongly contested by Harriers' Lisa Hall, Carly Wright and Zoe Gowland in the A team. Wakefield also included a B team of Elaine Hardcastle, Jasmine Kerry and Jan Faulkner.

Hall and Hardcastle started the first leg, with both athletes trying hard to maintain a good position. At the changeover, Hall was 15th and Hardcastle 25th in 8 mins 07 secs and 8 mins 36 secs respectively. Wright and Kerry then took of and both runners clawed back several runners in times of 8 mins 09 secs and 8mins 19secs.

On the final leg, Gowland and Faulkner took up the challenge, with Gowland showing good form and finishing with the tenth fastest time of the day, 7 mins 44 secs, taking her team into eighth place. Faulkner held her position to finish in 21st place behind overall winners Bedford and County Athletic Club.

In the U17 age group, Samantha Colley, Aine Hoban and Faith Grant had a top contest with the best clubs in England. Colley, on leg one, ran well to hand over to Hoban in 21st place, and she increased the pace and passed several athletes and at the changeover, Grant settled into the final leg and brought the Wakefield club into 20th position, with Sale Harriers winning the event.

The U13 age group saw Jaydene Wright, Zoe Smeaton and Hayley Briscoe hoping to finish in a total time of sub 30 minutes. Wright (8 mins 46 secs) on leg one, Smeaton (9 mins 31 secs) and Briscoe (9 mins 20 secs) ensured they finished in 25th place, out of more than 44 teams.

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