West Yorkshire League, Guiseley – Seniors

It’s that time of year again, and on Sunday the senior harriers dusted the Alton Towers mud off their spikes and took to the unusually dry and firm course of Nunroyd Park for the first West Yorkshire League race of the season.

Fresh from hard-fought victories in the 2 recent relay events, the men dominated proceedings in Guiseley, finishing 6 in the top 10. Simon Deakin lead the way, making his charge to the head of the field look effortless and pulling away from Holmfirth’s Matt Pierson to win by almost a minute. There was always a pack of blue and yellow vests chasing hard and in the end it was Alan Buckley who claimed 4th spot, with Martin Gostling building on his strong final leg at last week’s XC relays to finish 6th. Dale Worton ran a mature race and steadily moved through the field, overhauling Holmfirth’s Max Kaye on the last lap to finish as first junior in 7th place. Cross-country stalwarts Doscoe and Martin Hilton rounded out the team in 9th and 10th.

Meanwhile, Steve Body ran strongly to make the top 20 (19th), followed closely by Fergus Meade in 22nd, clearly on his way back after an interrupted summer season. Sam Bucknell was another youngster who ran a sensible race, heeding coach Townsend’s instructions to start steady and then working his way through to 25th and 6th junior. Slightly less young but still running strongly, Leon Foster and a battle-scarred Gavin Chatterton enjoyed a close battle to finish just a second apart in 31st and 32nd, whilst, close behind, Pete Steel completed the B team in 34th. It’s worth noting that, if the WYL allowed B teams to count, Leeds B would have finished 3rd, ahead of Bingley’s A team!

We were just one short of a C team, with Trevor Wilks (34th), Ben Dyson (45th) and Elliot Todd (50th) all finishing in the top 50, whilst Chris Needham (52nd) and Martin Farran (64th) were not far behind at all.

The victory at the Northern Cross-Country Relays last week showed that the Leeds City women have the makings of a very good team this year, and they proved they also have strength in depth with a strong 2nd place finish in Guiseley. Claire Duck, rapidly regaining her best form, lead the team home in 3rd, coming within centimetres of catching Bingley’s Jo Buckley after making up a good 20-30m in the finishing straight. Similarly, Jennie Guard and Celia de Maria (17th) are finding their form again and both ran assured races in 14th and 17th, whilst a strong run from Ruth Wilcox completed the team in 28th.

Ruth was closely followed by Sarah Whitley and Rachel Dyson in 36th and 45th, with Veronique Marot rounding out the Leeds’ finishers in 87th.

Elsewhere, Mike Burrett ran the Great Yorkshire Run 10km in Sheffield, finishing 12th in 32:33 on what was, by all accounts, a windy and hilly course, whilst Joe Townsend (twice), Geoff Belcher and Michael Salter, all running for Birmingham University, were among the fastest times of the day at the Manchester University Cross-Country Relays.