The cross country season got off to a cracking start with a double header this weekend. Saturday saw the first Essex League fixture at Horseheath Point to Point racecourse. In this league the ladies and men race separately over different distances – approximately 6k and 8k respectively. This is a tough league with new clubs joining this season to increase the competition.

Rachael Roughan was first back for Halstead (32nd) with Leigh-Anne Porter making an impressive cross country debut as the second scorer (59th). Cat Bennison, who has recently joined the club, also put in a strong performance finishing in 77th position with Wendy Carter making up the scoring team in 89th. Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) specialist Anna Bambridge, another new member, finished not far behind in 92nd. The ladies finished 12th overall and 10th in Division 1.

The men’s race also saw some new faces for Halstead as well as some cross country regulars. Wes Atkins, who recently won the club’s men’s cross country title, showed he still means business this season finishing first for Halstead in 78th position. Jim Clark put in another consistently good performance in 86th. They were followed by Tom Porter (117th), Jon Greenley (124th) and debutant Rob Frost (143rd). Simon Humphrey who was also testing out his off road skills for the first time completed the scorers in 159th with Andy Carter putting in a strong finish in 184th. The men finished 14th overall and 12th in Division 1.

On Sunday it was the turn of the 53-12 League with a much more technical and tough cross country course at Writtle University. 22 runners turned out for Halstead including several who had run the previous day. Men and women race together in this league over roughly 5 miles.

It was a repeat of Saturday’s 1 and 2 for the men with Wes Atkins in 35th position and Jim Clark in 50th. There was then some good packing from Nathan Roulson (53rd), new comers Mat Hutley (54th) and Gavin Ripton (58th) with Tom Porter (64th) making up the scorers. The remainder of the men’s team were Jon Greenley (78th), Stewart Ellis (84th), Steve May (98th), Ivan Filchev (102nd), Dan Hollinshead (113th), Don English (124th), Sam Wolton (134th), Phil Jeffries making his debut (205th), Axel Voigt (210th) and Dan Roughan also making his debut (215th). The men finished 2nd in Pool B.

For the ladies Rachael Roughan was again first back in an impressive 11th position. She was followed by strong performances from Mel Candler (25th) and Caroliena Cameron (26th) to record a great score. Leigh-Anne Porter clearly enjoyed Saturday’s race coming back for more (57th) as did Anna Bambridge (64th). Nicole Smith (69th), Treena Harrington (73rd) and another new recruit Lauren Hutley (90th) completed the ladies team. The ladies finished 3rd in Pool B only 5 points behind joint 1st and 2nd. This meant Halstead finished 3rd overall in Pool B.

Elsewhere John Warne did the notorious Beachy Head marathon. He finished in 4 hours 58 minutes – 21 minutes quicker than last year. Well done John!