Ipswich runners enjoy muddy success

SHAUN Webb ploughed through the mud to claim a marvellous silver medal at the annual South of England Cross Country Championships, staged at Hillingdon House Farm in west London.

SHAUN Webb ploughed through the mud to claim a marvellous silver medal at the annual South of England Cross Country Championships, staged at Hillingdon House Farm in west London.

Webb, of Ipswich Harriers, won the National and South of England titles at under-15 level last season, and he has since negotiated the tough step up to the under-17 age group.

The East Bergholt School student, despite being in the bottom half of this age group, was an impressive second. In fact, he was only denied another gold in a sprint finish with Jonny Hay, of Aldershot, Farnham & District. Hay won by a mere four seconds.

Webb, aged 16, is coached by Steve Benson, who has nurtured a succession of internationals and major medallists over the years, including Kirsty Waterson, Tom Sharland, Sam Jacobs, Matt Barnes-Smith, Kelvin Hardy, Claire Holme and Ellie Sprake.

Webb admitted: “That was the muddiest course I have ever encountered. It was knee-deep most of the way around, and you couldn't avoid it.

“Parliament Hill Fields was bad enough last year, but this was worse! However, I think it played into my hands because I like that sort of course. I enjoyed the challenge and I think it benefited me.

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“I'm happy to finish second. I'm in the bottom year of my age group this year, so it's a lot harder for me. It's a big step, but I feel that I'm doing OK.

“A group of four of us pulled away early on, and then me and Jonny (Hay) managed to drop the other two.

“It then came down to a sprint for the line. Jonny is renowned for his sprint finish and he wins most of his races that way.

“My coach Steve Benson was happy with the result, although we had planned before the start that I should try and make a break earlier on in the race.

“I have to work on my sprint, and do a few more reps in training, as well as making my move earlier,” added Webb, who lives in Brantham.

Webb will now be focusing on the Anglian Schools Championships, which take place in Lincoln on February 7, before moving onto the National Championships and finally the English Schools event at Loughborough in March.

There were several other outstanding performances from Suffolk athetes at Hillingdon, including a number of top 10 finishes.

Kieron Clements, of Hadleigh School, was a superb fourth in the under-15 boys' event. The Ipswich Harrier was only 22 seconds behind the winner.

Although Clements narrowly missed out on an individual bronze medal, he did lead the Harriers to third in the team event, supported by Jack Garvin, Rhys Hinton-Smith and Oliver Jones.

Fellow Harrier Charlotte Christensen was an excellent seventh in the under-17 women's race, and Jemma Clarry, of Saint Edmund Pacers, impressed with a battling ninth amongst the under-20 women.

Susannah Reid, of Brandeston Hall, also caught the eye with 12th position in the under-13 girls, while fellow Harriers Jack Garvin (24th) and Mary Galbraith (25th) featured highly in their respective under-15 races.

Ipswich Harriers and Ipswich Jaffa Results at Hillingdon

Under-13 boys: 49 R Tennant (IH) 13.05; 189 L Seller (IH) 14.55.

Under-13 girls: 15 S Reid (IH) 13.28.

Under-15 boys: 4 K Clements (IH) 15.03; 24 J Garvin (IH) 15.48; 33 R Hinton-Smith (IH) 16.01; 69 O Jones (IH) 16.28; 71 H Alexander (IH) 16.29; 134 J Baker (IH) 17.25. Team: 3 IH 130pts.

Under-15 girls: 25 M Galbraith (IH) 15.58; 47 S Nicklin (IH) 16.31; 72 J Seller (IH) 16.57; 105 H Pettersson (IH) 17.28. Team: 9 IH 249pts.

Under-17 men: 2 S Webb (IH) 20.29; 28 J Bird (IH) 22.19; 47 J Ali (IH) 22.42; 59 A Constable (IH) 23.03; 79 A Tanner (IH) 23.42; 103 J Norris (IH) 24.17. Team: 5 IH 136pts.

Under-17 women: 7 C Christensen (IH) 23.21.

Under-20 men: 29 E Palmer (IH) 30.46; 83 T Byford (IH) 35.43.

KEY

IH - Ipswich Harriers; IJ - Ipswich JAFFA.

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