Birmingham League Race 4, Sat 13 February
R&N exploit home advantage to stave off relagation fears
A superb performance by the Rugby & Northampton Mens team ensured they maintained their status in Division 1 of the Birmingham Cross Country League when they hosted the final race at Abington Park. The squad finished in 9th place on the day, which ensured they moved up two places in the league to finish 12th overall.
Club Champion Stuart Nelson rounded off his best ever season to lead home the club in all four races and achieve a highest ever position of 35th when he recorded 35 mins 20 secs for the 10k four lap course. He was backed up by a team that had six runners in the top 90. Teenager Josh Cardwell made the trip down from Loughborough to record a best ever 41st place and crossed the line exactly 30 seconds behind Nelson. John Gercs was the fastest over 40 athlete in the UK over 800 metres in 2009 and he used his speed to work his way through the field to finish in 66th spot with a time of 36.45. Five seconds behind him was Matt Howes who improved another 15 places from the previous race to finish 71st. The Club Veteran title went to Brendan Moen for the fourth consecutive year when he recorded 37.16 for a personal best 80th place and the biggest improvement came from Matt Emery with a time of 37.31 in 90th position.
The team total of 383pts was 68pts ahead of Warwick University and 174pts in front of Severn AC, which sent the Gloucestershire club down to Division Two along with Bournville and Wolverhampton & Bilston.
A brilliant performance by the R&N B team saw them finish in 2nd place when just ten places covered all six runners. Mark Armstrong led them home in 108th spot with a time of 38.38 followed closely by Stuart Meadows on 38.45 just one place behind. Club captain Vince Carroll came 112th with 38.58 to finish all four races for the 11th time in his career. Terry Egan finished his 20th race at Abington Park when he crossed the line in 113th place in 39.02. Egan has now completed 90 Birmingham League races and is just 3 short of Bryan Acford’s club record of 93. Steve Milner finished ten seconds later in 116th and closing off the B team was John Saw (118th in 39.59).
With 20 runners competing for the club this was the biggest turnout since the Abington Park race of December 2007. Rob McDougall finished 125th in 40.33, Neil Willsher (126th in 40.35), Ben Malia (129th in 40.48), Nigel Sewell (138th in 41.37), Alan Mould (144th in 42.04), Brian Summers (145th in 42.59), Adrian White (151st in 43.45) and Steve Dixon (154th in 44.54).
The Division One Championship went to Coventry Godiva for the second year running when they had 6 runners in the first 18.