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Dacorum & Tring AC’s junior cross country runners kept up the pace at the fourth leg of the Chiltern League Series in Keysoe, Bedfordshire, posting brilliant results just a week after a successful outing at the Herts and Bucks county championships.

A group of 21 athletes, from the U11 to U15 age groups, made their way up to the Keysoe Equestrian Centre, north of Bedford, to a course famed for its water jump, where all age groups have to negotiate a pool of knee-deep icy water on each lap of the course.

Fresh off his dominating win in last week’s Herts county championships, U15 athlete Sam Burnell (pictured in main photo, above) made it two in a row with another commanding performance at Keysoe.

Sam with Joseph just over his shoulder as they keep the pace on Lap 1 of the U15 boys race

Anna Fryer, team manager for the event, said that Sam’s win was “superb. He ran an extremely tactical race, in second or third for most of it but when he made the break at the second water crossing, it was totally committed and proved decisive. He entered the water third and came out first with a metre gap!”

Sam had a comfortable victory in the end, and his teammates Joseph Chamberlain (5th), Jack Raine (12th), Jamie Bailey (15th) and Rafael Armstrong (35th) ran hard and well, giving the boys a close second-place finish in the team category, with 127 points to Bedford & County AC’s 132 points – particularly impressive as this was Bedford’s home race and the club was out in full force. The U15 boys maintained their first-place position in the overall team ranking after four matches, ahead of Bedford and Chiltern Harriers, and will need to produce another strong performance in next month’s final at Milton Keynes’ Campbell Park to take home the team trophy.

Jamie powers through the course in the U15 boys race

The U15 girls team also ran strongly on the day, finishing fifth in the team standings out of 14 teams to hold sixth overall after four matches. Grace Hucknall had her best race of the Chiltern season, finishing 13th, with Stella Whitlum close behind in 15th. Katie Mitchell held on to finish 28th, while Emma Cresswell and Jessica Hill crossed the line in 34th and 35th and Lauren Collis was 42nd.

Grace in the mix with the front runners in the U15 girls race

The U13 girls also finished fifth as a team, and maintain a fifth-place ranking in the standings after four matches. Isabelle Jelfs (16th) and Indie Frost (19th) were inside the top-20, while Amy Lane was hot on their heels in 24th, with Beth Moody (31st), Nancie Bateson (43rd) and Poppy Webster (44th) running well in a competitive field.

The U13 boys had just one representative: Tim Fryer had a sprint finish with four other boys and finished 21st overall. 

Archie had a superb top-10 finish in the U11 boys race

The U11 age groups got to run through the water jump for the first time, adding to a challenging race as both Division 1 and Division 2 clubs are ranked together. Archie Seddon impressed with his eighth place finish in the boys’ race, out of a total of 71 competitors, while Alexia Bede (27th) and Talia Williams (41st) ran well in a field of 70 girls.

Alexia (fourth from right) charging down the home straight in the U11 girls race

Next up for our young cross country squad is the Herts Schools championships at St Albans on February 2nd, followed by the Chiltern League final in Milton Keyes on February 9th and Match 4 of the North West London League in Harrow on the 16th.

Thanks to parent photographers Richard Burnell, Anna Fryer, Roland Seddon, Hollie Bede, Gill Cresswell and Colette Dunne

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