North Norfolk Harriers athletes do club proud in big event

North Norfolk Beach Runners' Vinnie Purdy and Maria Greaves before the start of the Autumn 100. Pict

North Norfolk Beach Runners' Vinnie Purdy and Maria Greaves before the start of the Autumn 100. Picture: NNBR - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk Harriers continued their impressive showing on the national scene in the British Athletics Cross Challenge series at Tear Drop Lakes in Milton Keynes.

The Harriers lined up against some up the country's best athletes in their respective age-groups.

It was also a chance for younger athletes to taste top-flight competition – and under-11 Mathew Benson certainly rose to the occasion.

In his first big race, Mathew finished 21st from a field of 101 and claimed the silver medal in his competition category; a brilliant, gutsy performance from Mathew, and one which will give him confidence ahead of the Harriers' next major competition, the Eastern Cross-Country Championships in Bury St Edmunds at the weekend.

Innes O'Malley, 13, again showed good progress as he seeks to mix it at the head of the big races, turning in an excellent sixth place finish. Abi Durand in the under-15 girls race also finished sixth against some of the UK's swiftest athletes.

Eliska Watling performed superbly and finished just a minute behind Abi in 25th position – more proof of Eliska's growing ability.

The diminutive Abbi McCallum (under-13) also ran strongly to finish 38th in the fiercely contested first race of the day. Innes O'Malley's older brother, Oli, competed courageously in the under-15s as he returned from injury.

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Damp conditions added to the excitement on an excellent course, well known for its tight corners and short, steep hill sections.

Two North Norfolk Beach Runners went long at the weekend, competing in the King's Forest 50k ultra, organised by Positive Steps over a four-lap off-road course near Bury St Edmunds. Out of 125 finishers in this uncategorised race, Ivan Allen was first Beach Runner home in 83rd place with a time of 5.46.51 while Tony Money took 94th place in 6.00.23.

Meanwhile, two Beach Runners had gone even longer in running the Autumn 100, a 100 mile ultra in the Thames Valley. Out of 242 starters and 178 finishers, Maria Greaves was 89th overall and 13th female in 23.46.30 while Vinnie Purdy claimed a fairly astonishing 22nd place with a time of 19.41.36.

But then he'd trained for it, running 50-100 miles a week for 18 weeks.