Digging up the dirt as cross-country season gets into full swing

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AS THE cross-country season gets into full swing, so to does the current softer ground lend itself to some even more testing one-off events.

Two such races took place at the weekend and saw a trio of Harborough AC members tackling them head-on.

First up on Saturday was the Dirt Half Challenge; a 13.1-mile route encompassing towpath and woodland trails, around Leighton Buzzard, in Bedfordshire.

Among close to 500 finishers, both Adam Brooks and Kenny Anderson secured top-100 finishes. Anderson’s 1hr 44mins 02secs (for 98th place) was a sterling effort.

However, with a sub-1:30:00 time Brooks’ 12th position marked a phenomenal showing, that put him just a little over two minutes shy of a podium place.

One day later the eight-mile Wrekin Wrecker race was held on the England/ Wales border in Shropshire.

It sees competitors charged with three loops up and down the formidable Wrekin mountain, at a height of 1,335ft each time round. With muscles burning, yet spirit undaunted, Graeme Rolfe duly completed the course, crossing the line in 114th spot (1:25:02) from a field of more than 200.

In more familiar surrounds the quartet of Sean Fenwick, Ady and Jackie King, and Jo Johnson travelled to Markfield for the opening fixture in this season’s Derby Runner League.

And it proved to be a fairly successful outing – in notably muddy and slippery conditions – with Fenwick taking third place, and Ady King in 30th.

In the women’s race, Jackie King came home 79th, with Johnson 102nd.

Yvonne Scarrott, meanwhile, was at it again – contesting another half marathon, this time in the Cambridgeshire parish town of St Neots.

On a fresh, crisp morning more than 900 took to the reassuring firmness of the Fenland roads.

Despite a high volume of racing miles already behind her in 2012, Scarrott laid down a 1:32:54, to take third place in the FV45 category and 139th overall.

Over double that distance George Nolan recorded a time of 3:57:44 to take 279th place among a total of 497 at the Luton Marathon.

Held over three largely rural, picturesque laps, Nolan maintained his excellent year-long form, quipping afterwards how he “was okay and still moving”, despite the 26.2-mile overtures that had sapped his energy.

And in the latest sojourn of the Northampton parkrun series, Harborough’s Mark Cherry engineered a top-ten return.

His 18:54 for the 5km distance gave him eighth place from the 148 entrants.