IN a season that’s shaping up to be one of the closest and most exciting in years, with over half the events now done and in the bag, the twelve-month-long race for the individual category title of best runner in Heanor Running Club is beginning to reach a nerve-shredding conclusion.
Chris Riley leads the way in the VM standings, holding a nine point lead over nearest rival Steve Wardle. Needing to run seven out of a possible 13 events, both veterans are level on six races apiece. Any slip-ups rom Riley in any of the final three races would leave the door ajar for Wardle.
A little lower down the table, however, does seem to hint at potential drama still to come. Tony Weatherson and Ashley Deeming, the two top-performing vets in events they’ve contested this year, have only ran five and three events respectively. And with four races (or five, including an autumn marathon) still to fend for, the question may be whether one of these two will sneak through and steal the title from Riley’s grasp in the closing stages.
The VL race is pretty much a straightforward race, with only two approaching the line with a sniff of gold still to play for. Jill Burke’s maximum 150 points from her six races means a repeat performance in any one of the last four races will see her canter away with the spoils. Donna Baker, can only hope and pray for something unforeseen to halt Burke’s march.
In the SL stakes the current lady at the summit of the table is starting to come under increasing pressure. With a 15-point lead earnt across six events so far, Sarah Lewis’s position is starting to look peaky as rivals start to gather momentum.
Laura Harvey, with only five races down, will wrestle away top-spot if she completes her quota of events. And in third, Wendy Mullineux will ultimately be victorious regardless if she a) completes four more events and b) maintains her current level of performance.
Finally, the SM standings have a familiar look at the summit as the last three champions look set to battle it out until the final event.
He has only dropped two points in the club championship so far and has been the leading performer for Heanor RC in both the summer and cross country league series’ this year but 2010 champion Joe Rainsford may still need to hold off a late sprint to the tape in order to hold on to his crown.
Steve Ashmore is a mere five points behind. And a no-show from Rainsford or a revival from Ashmore in the final four fixtures may see the 2009 champion swing it.
Debutant Paul Clarke is an outside bet only a further four points adrift but it’s perhaps down in 6th place in the current table where the next nearest challenge will come.
After being away for the opening few fixtures and with maximum points in his previous two individual events at the Belper Relays and Jägermeister 10K, Joe Rainsford’s older brother Chris may just be timing his finish to perfection. Similarly to Joe, Chris is also only two points down from his possible maximum at this stage.
However, with only three events in the bag, Chris knows all he has to do is run and win each of the last four events to turn it round and return to the top of the podium for the first time since 2008.