Ripley Running Club’s members were in action at the English National Cross Country Championships at Wollaton Park.
It was dry, even sunny at times and due to recent windy weather and good draining soil, the course was pretty dry and not too testing, except for a couple of areas of deep mud, a fallen tree to jump over and a ditch to negotiate.
All Ripley runners put in a great performance at this very high level of competition.
In the ladies 8k race, Ripley had six participants, which must be a record for the club in this event. First home for Ripley, and making a welcome return, was Fiona Alexander in a great time of 35.34 for 240th place out of the 708 finishers.
Second Ripley lady was Jo Howett in a smashing time of 39.33 for 417th place with both Stacey Smith 446th/40.10 and Esther Broughton 452nd/40.23 close on her heels. The club’s final two ladies were Alison Butlin in 581st place/ 44.21 and Caroline Morris in 600th and 45.21.
In the men’s race, which was run over 12k, and included the Olympic bronze medal triathlete Jonny Brownlee representing Bingley Harriers, there was the second highest entry ever with 1,700 men on the start line of the three-lap course.
Luke Beresford was Ripley’s first man back in 499th and a time of 45.07 in a race that was won by eight-times medalist Steve Vernon of Stockport Harriers, in an amazing time of 37.03. This equates to five minutes per mile over the whole course.
Second man for Ripley was Dean Taylor in 614TH / 46.28, with Matt Jones less than a minute behind him in 644th position. The finishing order of other men was then Rich Phillis 1,152nd/52.57, Ryan Ball 1,276th/55.18, Dennis Holmes 1,290th/55.29, Carl Hopkinson 1,297th/55.33, Jerry Bateman 1,519th/61.04 and finally Jay Bird in 1,627th and 69.01.
For the record, Jonny Brownlee finished in ninth and showed what a genuine, down-to-earth runner he is at the finish line by signing autographs and having his photograph taken with all of the young athletes who hope to emulate him one day.
One of the lucky ones to get his photo taken was Christian Howett, son of Ripley’s Jo Howett, who had a great run himself in the under 15 boys race where he finshed 225th out of 246 in a super time of 17.01.