LAURA Kyte continued her impressive form with a second-placed finish for Bromsgrove & Redditch Athletic Club in the third and penultimate Women’s Midland and Men’s Birmingham Cross Country League race of the season.
The girls were up first at Coombe Abbey Country Park, near Coventry, and the flat, two-lap waterlogged course was soon turned into a quagmire, meaning fast times were completely out of the question.
With one win each in the previous two races, B&R’s Kyte and Nuneaton’s Polly Keen led the pack from the start. Keen gained the advantage on the first lap and she managed to hold her lead as Kyte finished second some 18 seconds behind.
B&R’s 17-year-old Beth Sykes, who is competing in her first senior season, ran strongly to finish sixth and first junior.
Completing the team were Natasha Newton and Liz Vaughan in 29th and 37th respectively, bringing B&R home in an excellent third place behind Nuneaton and Tipton Harriers.
Jo Hounsell-Hardy continued her return to form to finish in 78th, followed by Dagmar Prinzing in 145th and Charlotte Ball in 185th. There were 234 finishers.
A depleted men’s team consisting of only 10 athletes was the smallest B&R had fielded in nearly a decade and they were next up to negotiate three laps of a course churned up by the girls, with hardly any firm ground underfoot to be found.
In a vain attempt to avoid the mud, Scott Beverley sprinted off from the gun and led the entire pack until the first bend.
Mark Appleton, the only non-veteran among the team, was unsurprisingly the first back in a respectable 41st place, followed by Kevin Fisher in 68th.
Andy Freeman managed to outkick 50-year-old Calvin Scoltock as the duo finished 74th and 75th respectively.
With the distraction of ‘Strictly’ over, Kevin Lanckham had trained hard and managed a creditable 115th, with Anthony Warner in 126th making the scoring six for the first time to complete the team.
The final four runners were Scott Beverley (142nd), Ian Keyte (166th), Dean Hartshorne (178th) and John Searle (200th) out of a field of 237 finishers.
With so many of the regular runners missing, it was always going to be difficult and unfortunately B&R finished in 14th and last place on the day. It leaves them 11th in the series – one place above the relegation zone with one race remaining.
The event was a special occasion for Ian Keyte as he completed his century of Birmingham League races, becoming the league’s 20th and B&R’s first member of the exclusive ‘100 Club’.
This club takes a minimum of 25 years to join as there are only four races per year, but it took Keyte considerably longer as he completed his first race in November 1978.
In addition to this, Keyte has completed many races in the Gloucester Cross Country League as well as competing in the annual County, Midland and National Cross Country Championships.
The club held a special presentation for Keyte before the race started, which meant no matter what happened he had to finish!
B&R’s juniors competed at Nuneaton in the West Midland Young Athletes Cross Country League and pride of place went to the under-13 boys.
The team took first place for the third consecutive league race and look well set to become team champions when the final fixture is held on February 9 at Aldersley Stadium in Wolverhampton.
Leading the team home was Matt Bevins in third place overall, with great support from Will Pridden (10th), Sam Hembry (11th), Will Hembry (12th), Nathan Sanders (14th), Thomas Mawdsley (50th), Josh Bevins (59th) and Joseph Vale (117th).
In other age groups, there were excellent top-20 finishes from Hanna Dale, Lucy Hatfield, Josie Mawdsley, Natalie Hatfield, Lauren Sykes and Harrison Mayne.