HORWICH RMI Harriers fielded two big cross-country squads in St Helens and Todmorden with success at both venues.

In the Red Rose League, the annual foray to Todmorden brought a winning team result for the under-11 girls of Gracie Sherbourne, Grace Freary and Kitty Crossland keeping them at the top for the series after three of four fixtures.

With Chorley only four points behind it will be a nail-biter at Marl Pits next month for the team honour.

Gracie and Grace are second and fourth in the series and it was a double running triumph for Kitty as the following day she was first at the Queens Park junior parkrun in Bolton in an impressive time of 8mins 53secs for the 2k course.

Also at Todmorden, in the u11 boys’ race, Charlie Cowburn was third, retaining second place in the series, two points behind the leader. The u11 boys are second in the series.

Isaac Battye is in great form at u17s and this week won by nine seconds from his Clayton-le-Moors rival as they share top spot in the series. Harriers Benjamin Hall is closing in on a top-three series result after a terrific run this week.

The u15 girls’ team took second place behind Bury with Charlotte Wilkinson leading the team in third, which means she is close on the heels of two Bury rivals for top spot in the series as it goes down to the wire with all to play for.

For the Harriers’ vets at Todmorden, Suzanne Budgett was third V55 woman and with Alison Mort and Janet Talbot secured a mid-table vets team position.

Gary Chadderton and Doug Fleming resumed their long-standing friendly rivalry and took second and third in the V60 category. Gordon Stone took third in V65 and top age-category places were earned by Tony Hesketh, at V70, and John Parker, at V80, making them well-placed for series wins.

The Todmorden course is renowned for its steep muddy slide, making it a good test for stamina and verve and it was much the same at Sherdley Park in St Helens, a new venue for the Manchester Area Cross-Country League where a big field of more than 800 runners competed.

Janet Rashleigh, in the women’s race, was 43rd out of 326 runners, winning her age category by almost three-and-a-half minutes and placing her second of all women over 50. She won her age category in the 2019/20 season and is on course to repeat that this season.

Fifteen men turned out for Horwich at Sherdley Park and the A team had a storming run to take third place behind strong Sale and Salford squads.

James Scott-Farrington and Joe Mercer had top-10 finishes and were ably supported by Luke Foley, Sam Walsh, George Martindale and Paul Grundy. This puts Horwich in second place in Division One after two of the five match series as the Harriers fly the flag for clubs north of Manchester.

The B team were 13th in a big field of 62 teams, with Ireland international Ian Conroy making the trip to lead the team as he makes a strong recovery from an ankle injury.

The club is now looking forward to the forthcoming county, northern and national cross-country championships with all to play for.

However its not quite all cross-country as Richard Howarth and Rob Jackson took on the Tatton half marathon and had great runs in a field of more than 1,000 runners to take sixth and 26th places and age-category wins.