The performance of the day was reserved for a nine-year-old rookie as Gainsborough and Morton Striders took the plunge in the Lincolnshire Cross-Country County Championships at the weekend.
Thomas Sweeting was one of six young Striders who ventured to Biscathorpe in the Lincolnshire Wolds, between Market Rasen and Louth, for the prestigious event. And he defied a hilly course, mud and water to produce a run that belied his age.
Thomas competed in the U11 boys’ race, which meant that most of the runners were at least a year older than him, but he took an excellent third place to show why he is placed 30th in the current national rankings for his age group.
Clubmate Jasper Humphries also tackled older rivals in the U13 boys’ race. Nevertheless, he secured not only a fine sixth place but also an invitation to the county trials later in the month.
In the U13 girls’ race, Lucy Allan came home eighth, even though she had been ill in the days leading up to the event, and also felt a recurrence on the last lap.
Other good performances were delivered by Charlotte Aston-Booth and Rhys Sweeting in the U11 races, while the only adult Strider to try his luck, Ronnie McWilliam, achieved a top-five placing in the veterans’ category, despite there being a lot less mud than he would have liked!
In Saturday morning’s parkrun at Gainsborough, James Croft bagged his third first-place finish on the hilly three-lap course, clocking a time of 20.38 minutes. Speedy teenager Max Underwood-Frost was third to finish in 23.35, while Vikki Hearn’s decision to run, rather than act as a volunteer, was rewarded wuth a personal-best time of 29.01.
Many Striders have now started training for their spring marathons, including nine who have secured places in the London Marathon. Lorna Allison, Jane Benson, Jonathan Drake and Mark Rodgers qualified through the ‘Good For Age’ scheme, which means they have run a fast-enough time to earn automatic entry, while Karen Creed and Craig Williamson won charity places, Simon Smith and James Croft were the lucky winners of a ballot for the two places the club now receives and Clare Hardwick won a spot in the marathon’s open ballot for the second year in a row.
Brighton is the destination for Helen Sweeting and Daniel Gleave, and it’s Manchester for Hanna Bennett and Carl Currie. Bennett is also heading for the USA to take part in the Pacific Coast Marathon. Other Striders planning to travel further afield for their marathon fixes include Lee Fenlon (Vienna), Nigel Bowler (Boston, USA), James Croft (Paris) and Will Lansdall (Edinburgh).
Tom Humphries will be hoping to put his injuries behind him as he tackles the Hardmoors 200, a run of about 200 miles around the North Yorkshire Moors, once again. And just to show that age is no barrier to running, one of the club’s oldest members, retiree Maureen Allen, will be competing in her first half-marathon at Retford.
The club’s senior training sessions are held every week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.