Striders return to the National X Country race

Gainsborough and Morton Striders at National Cross Country Championshipsat Wollaton Park, Nottingham.

Gainsborough and Morton Striders at National Cross Country Championshipsat Wollaton Park, Nottingham.

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Gainsborough and Morton Striders made a successful return to the National Cross Country Championships last weekend, at Wollaton Park in Nottingham.

The majestic hall provided a splendid backdrop for an undulating course which included mud, water and parkland.

Mitchell O’Connor and Ashley Gregory were the first two Striders to make their way through the new starting marquee in the 4500m (2.8 miles) U15 Boys Championship race.

O’Connor backed up his recent good form in the Lincs League to register a promising debut National performance, finishing in 258th place in a time of 17 mins 21 secs.

Gregory showed true perseverance and determination by completing the last half mile in just his socks, having had both spikes pulled off in the shin-deep muddy bog.

He finished 343rd in 24 mins 01 sec.

The Senior Ladies Championships race over 8,000m saw two Striders tackling what was by then resembling a complete mud-bath in places.

Lorna Allison ploughed her way through to record a splendid 161st place in a time of 34 mins 30 secs.

Donna Cook dug in to complete her national debut to finish 685th in 52 mins 12 secs.

The Senior Mens Championship race saw a trio of Striders tackle a 7.5 mile course.

Phil Kitchen, Simon Hall and national debutant Matt Huteson were the intrepid Striders that joined the near 2,000 strong field.

Within 50m of the Start the sheer volume of runners heading for the first right hand turn engulfed the trio as the first lap became one of survival.

Kitchen ran a well controlled race finishing the last lap three minutes faster than his first to record a fine 1,210th place in 53 mins 58 secs.

Hall, had to put a spike back on during the final lap as abog sucked his shoe off.

But he recovered to produce a fine finish and cross the line in 1,309th place with a time of 55 mins 47 secs.

Huteson was also making his first XC appearance since his schooldays and had to battle hard.

He struggled at times to cope with the course, as his trail shoes were unable to deal with the now knee-deep mud on one 200m section which drained every onze of energy out of the ever tiring runners.

However, Huteson hung on for a creditable time of 67 mins 27 secs as he finished in 1614th place.