Prestwold Hall was a new venue for the second race in this season’s Derby Runner XC League. Despite the counter attraction of the Derby 10 mile road race there was still over 600 runners who lined up on the start line in bright, cold and, in places, windy conditions. Despite the usual gratuitous water and ditch hazards and a sharp incline better suited to mountain goats the course was generally good, as befits a venue that has recently been used for the Inter Counties Cross Country Championship. The Club were badly affected by the clash with the Derby 10 as they looked to consolidate their positions of second in Division 1 of the men’s league and top spot in Division 2 of the women’s league. Chris Pearson re-affirmed his status as the Club’s ‘man for all seasons’ as he raced brilliantly in his unfussy way for 22nd place. Mark Harriott, John Morgan and Christian Glover showed that they are showing no signs of fading after busy season’s as they finished in 67th, 77th and 80th places respectively. Ultra-distance man Andy Windle emphasised his love for the surface as he finished in 107th, getting the better, on this occasion, of strong man Shane Chapman in 109th. Simon Reynolds ran well for 114th with little separating Chris Mason, Glenn Smith and Matt Long in 123rd, 130th and 133rd places respectively. Nigel Atkins, running well this season until injury hampered his progress, finished in 186th with Kevin Clarke running strongly for 229th. It’s been a good return to running for Kevin who, after hanging up his referee’s whistle and cards, has run consistently enough to win his league in the 2017 Club Championship. Malcolm Moore and Tony Richards gave everything to finish in 245th and 262nd places before two Club stalwarts Mark Nixon and Steve Tempest in 311th and 326th completed the Club finishers in the men’s race.
It was a similar story for the Club in the women’s race with Jenny Laing emphasising her status as one of the best senior women around as she finished in a superb 2nd place. She was given valuable team support by Lisa Wright in 68th, Jenny Winters in 118th, Emily Atkins in 151st and, making a really welcome return to racing, Linda Tempest in 205th.
The Club’s current strength in depth was emphasised as the men’s team of Rob Eaton (60.01), Andy Hawtin (62:51), Nathan Fagan (67:42) and Tom Eyre (67:43) combined superbly to win the men’s team prize in the Derby 10. The Club’s women were also to the fore as they finished a very creditable 4th in the women’s team race. The team scorers were Kelly Knight (71:32), Nikki Reeves (73:36) and Tracey Glover (79:04). Also in action in a race that had 1200 finishers were Chris Gunstone, showing no apparent ill effects after two recent marathons, as he stopped the clock here in 68:14 with Andy Orme breathing down his neck in 68:24. Dave Eyre and Romain Chambard took advantage of the conditions and the flat course to record very respectable times of 70:44 and 73:36 while Ellie-Marie Evans continued her improvement with a superb 72:21 . Ian Archer, fresh from a terrific Parkrun PB the day before, carried this form on to record 75:52 with the ‘silver fox’ Colin Mee showing all of his class in recording 76:31. Paul Glover battled well for his 77:36 with something of a gap to the resilient David Lunn in 89:18, Karen Wilks in 91:28, Robin Thorne in 94:11 and Alison Shearer in 98:07. Emma Sharp, Carolyn Ife and Cath Johnson gave everything as they stopped the clock in Pride Park in 110:15, 112:24 and 130:27 respectively.
The theme of the Club’s current strength in depth was given further credence as Stuart Halsey, possibly showing the best form of his career, finished in a terrific 2nd place in the Coalville 10k.