The Club’s men and women resumed competition in their respective cross country leagues at Warley Woods in Smethwick on Saturday, 14 January 2023. The races were the third round in the Birmingham and District Invitational Cross Country League for men and Midland Women's Cross Country League. Round three is usually the strongest fixture of the season and is used by the university teams as a selection race for their BUCS teams.
After heavy rain had softened the turf during the week the women took to the course first for their 3 lap, 6.8 km race. The race was dominated individually by guest runner Grace Carson, who stretched the lead runners out from the first lap, eventually finishing 45 seconds clear of the next athlete. Winner of round two Hannah Robinson led the way for the Stags in 6th position, followed by Hayley Carruthers in 13th, Frances Vickers in 41st, with Ejiro Okoro completing the scoring four in 44th, followed by Lizzie Watters (50th), Annie Kibble (67th) and Salilah Baig (76th).
The team retained third place in the league heading into the final round at Burton Dassett on 11 February, behind the university teams from Birmingham and Loughborough.
After the women’s race had softened the ground, the men were set to cover 9.5km round the same circuit. A range of illnesses, injuries and work commitments had taken away our three top scorers from the previous round and reduced some of those who did run to apologising in advance for not being as fit as they’d have liked to be.
Following his usual controlled opening kilometre, Ed Banks moved through to finish first for the Stags in 24th, a handful of seconds ahead of Jason Bennett (30th). Matt Scarsbrook continued his first season in the league in 47th, with Dan Swain fourth for the team in 65th position, followed by Max Price (84th) and Jon Bradford (90th) to make up the scoring six. Andy Ridley (133rd) has now run in the league in three different decades having first competed on the legendary Senneleys Park course in 2009. A consequence of the competitive nature of round three meant that Matt Biggs (144th) had probably his best run of the season despite finishing in his lowest position of all the rounds so far. A mention also for Joe Heathcock, who was a DNS due to illness, but had made the effort to attend the race in a taxi from Sutton Coldfield in case we were short of athletes and needed a sixth runner to complete a team.