Tamworth AC Senior Men’s Cross-country team bolstered their claim for promotion back to Division 2 with an emphatic win last weekend. Racing over an undulating and challenging 9.5km farmland course, the Tamworth team surged to the top of the Division 3 table.
Following cancellation at the original Droitwich venue due to a water logger course, the Division 3 race was transferred to Bentley Farm; a new venue near Crewe and hosted by Stoke AC.
Tamworth were strengthened by the much-welcomed return of Steve Parkes, who missed the entire previous season with injury, and the talented youngster Max Kent making his senior debut for the team.
Racing along with the Division 1 teams, a big field of some 450 runners toed the start line for what was always going to be a fast start with the lead runners not wanting to be caught-up in any athlete congestion over the first lap. Such was the pace that the race was soon strung-out into a long line of runners strewn around the 3.2Km three lap course.
Tamworth’s travelling Frenchman Sylvain Letendart was at the forefront of the Tamworth effort. Running toe-to-toe with Steve Parkes the pair made gradual progress through the field over the opening lap of the race. “Mixed with the Division 1 race it was difficult to know how well we were running, we just had to keeping working hard to the finish” said Letendart.
The perseverance and effort clearly paid-off for Sylvain as he brought his race to the finish in 3rd place. Steve Parkes made a tremendous effort over the last lap to hold his own race together to finish in a well-deserved 6th place.
Tamworth’s third counter on the day, running in only his second XC race for Tamworth was Pete Hackett who returned another great performance to finish in 9th place. Hackett said “the course suited me much better today, I always feel much better where there is mud and hills to go at and managed a very strong finish”.
Only one place behind, and making four Tamworth athletes in the top 10, was Dale Langley who is clearly benefitting from the consistent training and racing that he has put-in over the past few months. Ben Evans put in a superb performance with a big improvement from the first race to finish in 16th place and fifth team counter.
Howard Bush continues to make the scoring six despite the young team around him. ‘H’ delivered a superb result to finish in 27th place just ahead of the talented debutant Max Kent who completed his debut race in 32nd place. Dave Brayer had another solid performance, running consistently throughout to bring his race home in 47th place. Team captain Andy Wright was ninth counter for Tamworth, with a good race to finish in 75th place. Derek Bolton made a very welcome return to the cross country team after an injury ridden previous season to finish in 132nd place.
Overall, the race was won emphatically by Chris McCloud of Solihull & Small Heath in 31.41 followed by club team-mate Keelan Hopewell in 33.51 and Tamworth’s very own Sylvain Letendart in 34.38.
In the all-important team competition, Tamworth AC scored a superb 71 points to take the win from Solihull & Small Heath AC with 107 points and Sphinx AC with 119 points.
Overall, Tamworth AC top Division 3 with 223 points from Sphinx AC with 270 points and Aldridge RC 293 points.
The third of the four race series will be held on 11th January 2020 at Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent; where Tamworth AC will be looking for another strong performance to put them on the brink of promotion.