Horwich Harriers members were out in force for the Manchester Area Cross Country League resumption last weekend - the fourth match of the season at Kenworthy Woods, writes Sam Fairhurst.

The usual course had been tweaked, with less distance slogging around the football pitches and more time twisting and turning through the woods appreciated by all but the flat-track bullies.

The Horwich senior men were looking for redemption after a poor turnout at Tatton Park in the previous match. Joe Mercer was right up there, taking fifth in a time of 29mins 19secs over the near five-mile course, while Nick Leigh was 28th (fifth MV45) with a time of 30:59. James Kevan was five places further back, in 31:11, nursing a tight Achilles on the last lap, while Julian Goudge (32:32) took another fifth place, this time in the V50 classification.

Leigh, Goudge, Alastair Murray and Marcus Taylor ran strongly to take sixth in the men’s vet’s team classification, making it look increasingly likely they will earn promotion for next season.

The same four combined with Kevan and Mercer to take eighth senior men’s team, while Lindsey Brindle, Helen MacDonald and Alison Mort secured a fine ninth place in the ladies vets team results. Brindle ran well, her time of 36:52 was good enough for second LV40 and 21st overall.

Charlotte Wilkinson bagged herself another under-17 top 10, covering the 3.6-mile course in 27:04. Grace Mort (12th, 21:11) and Courtney Iredale (27th, 24:53) took on the 2.8-mile distance in the U15 girls’ race. Mark Titmuss snuck in the top 20 (19th, 18:53) in the U15 boys’ event over the same distance and Kitty Crossland took a superb seventh (13:26) in the 1.8-mile U13 girls’ race.

Joel Ige started the athletics year with a bang. The young Harrier ran a PB of 7:40 in the 60m heats at the England Athletics U20, U17 and U15 Indoor Championships in Sheffield. He went on to run 7.42 in the final, good enough to place fourth in the country.

Last Sunday, Marcus Taylor backed up his fine showing at the cross country the day before to finish second MV50 in the Bolton 5k at Leverhulme Park. An 18:25 finishing time was good enough for him to see off his friend and team-mate, Colin Rigby (18:54), who nevertheless took first prize in the MV55 category.

The first round of the Central Lancs Grand Prix, which is doubling as the club’s road championships this year, saw six Harriers toe the start line in total.

At Alexandra Parkrun there were two excellent performances on Saturday. Soon to depart for a year on the ‘Emerald Isle’, Richard Pollitt ran 17:55 to show he will be missed in Horwich colours in 2024.

Meanwhile, Rob Jackson had a departure from his usual Peel venue to run 18:34 in south Manchester.

Despite the change of venue, his result did not differ, with an age-category victory. He chose to run Alexandra due to the ever worsening conditions at Peel from the wet winter so far.