AFTER a promising start to the four-race season in the Birmingham & District Cross Country League, Bromsgrove & Redditch Athletic Club’s senior men had to pull out all the stops in the last fixture to avoid slipping into the third and bottom tier.
In race one the club claimed seventh place – a healthy top half position out of 14 teams – to raise hopes of a promotion push for the second season running.
However, injuries, below-par performances and unavoidable absences over the next two races brought a slide down the table so that, going into the last fixture, B&R were one of four clubs fighting to avoid 12th spot to join Kings Heath RC and Massey Ferguson RC in suffering the drop.
Going into the last race at Lilleshall on a sunny but increasingly windy day, less than 200 points – a small margin in cross country – covered Black Pear (9th), CLC Striders (10th), B&R (11th) and Telford (12th).
The threatened teams were therefore always likely to put out their strongest runners even if carrying niggling injuries and so it proved.
Telford finished fifth on the day, B&R a close sixth and CLC Striders 11th. With the first six runners in each team counting towards the final points total, all three clubs had their sextet finishing in the first 100 runners and it was more than enough to consign Black Pear to the drop despite their lead runner coming an excellent 16th in a field of 203.
For B&R, it meant they finished the season safely in ninth place.
Individually on the day, B&R’s scoring six of Pete Vale, Tim Spencer and Mark Appleton packed well to be placed 20th, 21st and 22nd respectively and were strongly supported by Patrick Mackie (51st), Peter Ball (55th) and Kevin Fisher (63rd).
Also finishing well were Andy Freeman (81st), Gareth Richardson (89th) and Kevin Lanckham (92nd).
Over the season, 164 runners from all the clubs completed at least three of the four fixtures, with the best three finishes counting towards individual trophies.
While B&R runners were not in the running for trophies, there were very creditable seasonal performances from Mark Appleton finishing 23rd overall, team captain Peter Ball 33rd, Kevin Fisher 48th, Andy Freeman 58th, Calvin Scoltock 59th, Anthony Warner 85th and Kevin Lanckham 86th.
B&R senior ladies were also in action at Aldridge Airport in the Midland Women’s League and, although without three of their quicker runners, they still put in good performances to finish sixth team from 21 on the day.
Leading the way was Laura Kyte who had a great four-race series. Following a first and two second-placed finishes in the first three fixtures, she added an excellent third place at Aldridge to end the season in season place overall.
In a field of 179 runners, Natalie Newton and Liz Vaughan had yet another close race of their own before Newton pulled away to finish 29th, with Vaughan less than a minute behind in 39th.
Completing a good team effort were Jo Hounsell-Hardy in 62nd, Jane Anderson who was 118th, Dagmar Prinzing in 121st and Charlotte Ball with 150th place.