Week Ending - 2024/02/18


The penultimate round of the 2024 Derby Runner Cross Country League took place at Grace Dieu priory near Thringstone at the weekend with in-form men’s skipper Dave Hill fulfilling the role of Dieu himself with a God-like performance over some terrifically wet and muddy trails. Setting his stall out early, the Polesworth athlete quickly established a healthy lead over his closest rivals, needing only to finish five places behind his closest challenger to assume the mantle of men’s individual champion of 2024. However, with the league title at stake for his club as well as personal pride, it was imperative that Hill set the tone for the rest of the side, as he ultimately completed the first lap with a big lead which he did in no way look like relinquishing, indeed he crossed the finish line to following the footsteps of fellow Badger Matt Scarsbrook who scooped the same honour in 2023. 

This was not a one-person show however as Danny Warren took a fine sixth place in what has been one of his best seasons to date and moments later key man Neil Russell crossed the line in a career-best 8th place, the veteran ace showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, in fact quite the opposite. With Adrian Payne’s marathon training beginning to really pay off in 18th place, the Badgers men were edging their way towards regaining the title they lost to Poplar RC last term. Mark Cox was next back in a fine 32nd place with the crucial veteran combination of Glyn Broadhurst and Chris Tweed finishing well inside the top 40. Fit again Eric Fowler was next through in 54th with Jimmy Dewis completing the scoring just like in his old cricket days with the bat. 

Also representing the men’s side were the likes of Mark Coggan and vice-captain Dave Jenkinson, along with Matt Green, Chris Young, Ashley Taylor and the hardworking Rob Crow. Former captain Simon Currier was back in the pack, able to offer his experience and wisdom to the current crop of leaders. Pete Greenfield produced another sensational effort finishing ahead of the likes of Eamon Thawley, the most capped cross-country Badger of them all, as well as Joe Jenkinson and Matt Smith. 

Like Neil Russell in the men’s, Eleanor Fowler finished in a quality 8th place overall, a great effort for any runner, least of all a veteran. Janey Barrett made the top 50 with Steph White and Joanne Hardy also scoring, it was only thanks to the youthful Grace Barsby finishing third scorer for the ladies with an incredible run of guts and determination, that scuppered an otherwise all-veteran scoring outfit. With a handful of regular runners already committed to the Sutton Half marathon, the depleted ladies' side still had a supply of capable back up in the fine form of Sarah Reynolds, Kerry Clover and Joanne Crow, with Ann-Marie Currier dutifully performing the role of sweep up athlete rounding the troops safely back to the finish. 

With one race remaining, it is now only the team titles that can be decided and Badgers appear to have a narrow lead over West End Runners in the men’s competition. The ladies are on the up from 2023 and therefore the mixed team fortunes follow accordingly. 

Away from this event, the brilliant Beth Woodward finished a magnificent 8th place in the Sutton Half with a PB time of 1:46:36. Along with Hannah Mayes who ran an impressive 1:57, a time some 15 minutes quicker than her last attempt in 2011, the ladies were really putting some shifts in over the 13.1 mile distance. Suzy Farrell ran 1:46:15 in Alicante, a second ahead of Colin Lees. Hannah Coogan clocked 2:10:03 at the Wrexham half and Paul Cooper ran 2:18 in the Railway Ultra half in Shropshire. Wayne Repton managed 2:14:43 for the 16.45 mile Naseby 1645 race, a big leap forward time-wise from his most recent effort. 

At parkrun, there was another win for Dave Hill in Tonbridge Wells. Glyn Broadhurst ran the fastest time of all Badgers with his 18:03 at the Dutch Zegerplus event. Chris Tweed took second at Kingsbury, Sam Starkey 7th at Stormont and Mark Repton 8th at Tamworth Castle.