HORWICH Harriers junior Harrison Stokes was the first of several club members to qualify for the Greater Manchester team at next March’s UK Inter-counties championships at Loughborough.

At the Greater Manchester Cross country championships at a waterlogged Leigh course on Sunday, Stokes qualified at under-15s level.

The U17 men’s race was especially close as Isaac Battye and Benjamin Hall took third and fourth places and at U20 Toby Middleton led for much of the race but in a busy schedule of events was content to do enough to take third place.

The senior men have been having a successful season in the Manchester Area league and at Leigh, rivalries were renewed with Horwich finishing third behind Salford and Sale - these three clubs being well ahead of the others.

Nick Leigh and Paul Grundy succeeded in gaining qualification for the Greater Manchester team, taking eighth and 14th places.

They were well-supported by George Martindale and Simon Bruton for the team result and there was a welcome return to Horwich colours for Dave Milliken.

Glynne Lever, club chairman, was happy to go on to the club’s Christmas party at the Bridge Hotel, with six qualifiers in the bag.

There were also several impressive results on the road for Horwich.

At the festive Longridge Xmas Pudding 7-mile race, Jane Counsell was first F45 and Maria Lowe was first F40 in 41st and 53rd places.

Only just ahead of them, Sean McMyler, in 36th place, was the third M55 in a field of 243 runners.

There were almost 800 runners for the Blackburn 10k road race and it was another opportunity for Rob Jackson to build on a terrific set of results this year.

On this occasion he just missed going under 38 minutes and was 28th overall. In a very competitive age category he was third M55 but enjoyed the close finish at Ewood Park.

Parkrun continues to be very popular and this week, there were two first places for Horwich.

Richard Pollitt was first home at the Falls parkrun in Belfast in 18mins 26secs, building on his excellent commitment to track training and road running.

Luke Brindle was also first at Dishley parkrun in Loughborough in 18:35.

But it was Gareth Webb who, despite only being 22nd at Stretford, took top parkrun honours this week as he was first M65 with a time of 19:31 and achieved a great age-graded result of 85.91 per cent in a big field of 386 runners at this fast venue.

That put him top of 35 Horwich members who have run at Stretford.