North Norfolk Harriers maintain impressive run of form

North Norfolk Harriers' U13 girls in action at Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Gavin McKee

North Norfolk Harriers' U13 girls in action at Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Gavin McKee - Credit: Archant

With the winter athletics cross-country season in full swing, North Norfolk Harriers headed to Suffolk for the Eastern Cross-Country Championships at Bury St Edmunds.

A picture-perfect Nowton Park course was in stunning autumn splendour as the Harriers fielded a strong team in the under-13s and under-15s competitions.

Flush with recent success at national competitions, a buoyant squad of youngsters were in confident mood at this regional, but no less competitive event — and the yellow-and-blues were in scintillating form to bring home individual and team honours.

Over a gently undulating, but demanding, 3km parkland course, the under-13 girls continued their successful first season in competitive racing with an excellent second position in the team competition. Silver medals were awarded to Abbi McCallum (8th), Sophie McKee (14th) and new-girl Leah Banning, catching the eye with an impressive 11th finish in her debut race. A gallant run from Hettie Life completed a Harriers' quartet.

An experienced under-13 boys' trio comprising Brad Keay, Henry Jonas and Innes O'Malley were ably supported by newcomers Archie Barker and Matthew Benson, the latter pair in their first year of competition. It was the top three boys, however, that cruised to victory in the 3km team event with Innes taking individual bronze, with Henry fourth and Brad fifth — together sealing a dominant team gold.

The 4km under-15 girls contest saw race favourite — The Harrier's highly-rated Abi Durand — on the start line alongside the ever-improving Eliska Watling. From the gun, the result was never in doubt as Abi, from Aylsham High School, decimated the field to romp home well clear of the second place Ipswich athlete. Equally impressive, however, was Eliska's third place finish — yet another huge step forward.

Billy Life and Sam Cooper both turned-in gutsy performances in the competitive under-15s 4k race, finishing seventh and 12th respectively,

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Many of the young athletes doubled-up the following day at race two of the popular Ryston Runners cross-country series at Shouldham Warren. Again, superb performances saw a number of personal-bests and some exceptional performances from juniors Jonah Life, Elouise Edridge and Charlie Reynolds.