The Essex Seniors Cross Country Championships took place on Saturday at Notley Country Park. Despite a frosty start to the day the off road conditions underfoot were extremely wet and muddy making it challenging going for the runners.

The ladies raced first over a 2 lap 5 mile course taking on Big Bird Hill before heading out to the fields. Rachael Roughan was first back in 53rd position, with Wendy Carter showing she still has great pace despite some injury issues in 95th. Leigh-Anne Porter (106th) and Anna Bambridge (115th) completed the scoring team. Nicole Smith and Lauren Hutley toughed it out in 125th and 143rd position respectively. The ladies finished 19th out of 28 teams.

The men not only had to contend with a longer 7.5 mile course that had been well churned up by the ladies. They also had to scale Big Bird Hill 3 times from the back which is a shorter but sharper incline. Wesley Atkins put in a solid performance in 56th position. Mat Hutley (82nd) and Nathan Roulson (106th) also had good runs. There followed some great packing between Gavin Ripton (116th), Tom Porter (119th) and Jon Greenley (120th). They completed the Halstead ‘A’ team who finished 15th out of 25 teams ahead of clubs such as Ilford AC and Harwich Runners.

The Halstead men were out in number so had enough depth for a second team. New Dad Rob Frost (136th), Simon Humphrey (153rd) and a very vocal sprint finish from Chairman Paul Hinsley (163rd) saw the first three back for the ‘B’ team. Neil Poulter (167th) said it was the hardest thing he’d done in a while. Dan Cole suffering from a chest infection finished in 192nd. Axel Voigt may have been the last runner home but he showed true grit and most importantly a smiley face to the line. The ‘B’ Team finished in 24th place.

On Sunday there was more off road running at The Kings Forest 10k. Ivan Filchev finished in 7th position in 45 minutes 32 seconds. Treena Harrington completed the course in 1 hour and 2 minutes.

I attach a few photos for you to choose from taken by our own Karl Hillman. They are of Rachael Roughan (first lady back for Hastead), Tom Porter and Wes Atkins (first back for Halstead men) and Nathan Roulson at the start.