Bickerstaff shines among elite runners

Fiona Alexander, Ripley Running Club
Fiona Alexander, Ripley Running Club

Knowsley Hall was the picturesque but very snowy setting for the North of England Cross Country Championships, attended by members of Ripley Running Club.

The event attracted an elite field, with many Team GB runners competing, and the standard throughout all of the age group races was very high.

Matt Bickerstaff went in the Men’s Under 20 race first for Ripley, and came back in a fantastic 47th place. A top 50 finish in such a field is a great achievement.

The ladies were next to face the very snowy and muddy conditions, which made running extremely difficult around the 8K two-lap course.

Lucy Holmes led the team home in 97th position in 40.25 followed by Fiona Alexander in 108th, 42.19, Steph Ilsley 113th, 42.43, Jo Howett 124th, 43.42, Esther Broughton 150th, 45.40 and Antoinette Franco 217th, 71.14. There were 217 finishers in the ladies race.

The men took on the 12k three-lap course, which had worsened significantly throughout the day, as the programme of races took its toll on the ground. By the time the senior men took to the course, the mud was ankle deep, and the consistency of porridge.

Dean Taylor defied the conditions to float along, finishing in 163rd, in 64.28. Mark Tomlinson, Dennis Holmes and Jerry Bateman had a slightly more sedate journey, in 64.28, 67.20 and 71.11 respectively.