West Yorkshire League 2, York: Seniors

The second West Yorkshire League race took place in the flat and firm surroundings of York racecourse and once again the senior harriers were out in force. The men had set a high standard at the first fixture 3 weeks ago, but this time they barely allowed anyone else a look in. Simon Deakin and Alan Buckley set out their stall early, heading straight to the front with only Richmond and Zetland’s (not in West Yorkshire last time I looked, but then again, neither is York) promising junior Marc Scott and Holmfirth’s Max Kaye for company. Deak pulled away on the second lap to win convincingly by 35s, whilst youth battled experience furiously for the whole race, with Scott eventually getting the better of Bucko by a mere 4s. Kaye dropped off the pace after lap 1 as the rest of the Leeds team began their charge through the top 10, led by Martin Hilton, obviously meaning business with a new streamlined haircut, Mike Burrett and a resurgent Fergus Meade. By the finish, however, it was Dale Worton, running sensibly and impressively once again, who had come through to take 4th, followed closely by a line of blue and yellow vests as Hilto, Mike and Fergus all finished within 30s of Dale, with Fergus 15 places higher than at Guiseley. The Leeds total was actually 7 in 8 as Mike Wood, unable to enter in time, ran as a guest and finished 8th! The challenge is now on to top this and finish 6 in 6!

It’s a sign of the harriers’ strength that Doscoe finished 11th and didn’t even make the team! This wasn’t for lack of trying as he fought hard to move through the field. Sam Bucknall, Mark Bryant and Gavin Chatterton enjoyed a race-long battle, eventually finishing in that order in 19th, 21st and 23rd, with Sam and Gav, now recovered from bike-related injuries, both improving on their Guiseley finishes. Behind them, Elliot Todd looked very comfortable as he improved on his Guiseley finish by a massive 24 places in 26th, whilst Trev Wilks grafted hard as ever in 30th. This gave the B team 130 points, easily enough to secure a hypothetical 2nd place, 50 points ahead of Bingley’s A team.

In 41st, Ben Dyson might not have made the Leeds A or B team, but he would have been a counter in any other club’s A team, whilst Martin Farran in 56th would only have missed out on making Bingley’s team by 1 place! Completing the squad, Gary Wilks ran a strong race to finish 156th out of almost 200 finishers.

In the women’s race, there was another strong Leeds City turnout. After Katie Walshaw from Holmfirth made her customary fast start, a group of 3 quickly formed at the front, with Claire Duck, who is getting stronger and faster race by race, right up there challenging for the win. It took until the last mile for a breakaway to occur, with middle distance specialist Laura Kirk from Skyrac taking the win by 22s. Claire and Katie fought a close battle, with Claire’s track speed making the difference in the latter stages of the race, as she pulled away to take 2nd by 5s. New member Katie Parry showed she will be a valuable addition to the team; never far behind the leading 3, she finished an excellent 4th. Returning from injuries, Kirsteen Young made her cross-country season debut in promising fashion, finishing 24s behind Katie in 5th. The team was completed by another athlete rapidly regaining form, Celia de Maria in 15th place. This was enough to reverse the team positions from the first fixture; whilst Holmfirth scored the same number of points as at Guiseley, Leeds more than halved their previous total to take the win by 9 points!

Not to be outdone by the men, the women also finished a B team, led home by Ruth Wilcox in 22nd. Rachel Dyson ran a much more confident race than at Guiseley, finishing an impressive 21 places higher in 24th, whilst Sarah Whitley moved through the field to finish 32nd, closely followed by Jennie Guard in 35th. This would have put the B team in 6th place, were they featured in the results. They were ably backed up by Sian Davies in 52nd.

In other harrier news, Chris Birchall took to the fells once again at the Great Whernside fell race, which incorporated the Yorkshire Championships. Chris led at the summit, but Howgill’s Carl Bell and Ian Holmes from Bingley found a better line on the misty and boggy descent. Chris chased hard but in the end had to settle for third overall, and 2nd in the Yorkshire Champs.

Further afield, James Walsh and Dave Webb competed in the Great South Run 10 miler in Portsmouth. Times were affected by the south coast wind in the runners’ faces in the last 2 miles along the prom, but James continued his excellent recent form to finish 8th (5th British finisher) in 48:37, whilst Dave finished 15th in 49:27.