SATURDAY was a day to remember for Bromsgrove & Redditch Athletic Club as both the senior men’s and women’s cross country teams won promotion into the top flight of their respective leagues.
The men’s team will feature in the first division of the Birmingham & District Cross Country League next season for the first time since 2001 and the women will compete in the top division of the Midlands League.
The final fixture saw the men’s and women’s teams compete at the same venue in Wolverhampton over a course with many twists and tight turns.
First up were the women, running in the culmination of a series of hard-fought performances across the winter season.
On the day, it was more about B&R’s team performance than individual positions and great packing meant there was very little to split them, with Katy Anderson in 28th, Sally Hogan in 36th and Laura Keyte in 41st making up the scoring trio.
The team has undoubtedly been bolstered in the second half of the season by the addition of Argentina-based Keyte, but Tamara Ball was not far behind in 52nd, with Mel Hepke 105th, Charlotte Ball 164th and Jane Anderson 206th.
On the day Tipton won the fixture, but it was not enough to close the gap at the top of the league and B&R eventually won by over 40 points.
Team manager Tamara Ball thanked all the ladies who have raced in the league this year.
She said: “The club won three out of the four fixtures in the division, showing great strength, depth and commitment. Bring on next season.”
The men were next up to take to the course and scored a season-best score of ‘just’ 126 and, although this was only good enough for third on the day, it saw them finish second overall to comfortably secure promotion.
The team have been led home by Joe Smith in all races this season and this was no exception as Smith ran a well-judged race, working his way through the field to claim fifth spot.
James Bowler also had his best race of the season, finishing in 11th place, tracked by the ever-youthful Richard Malin – running his first Birmingham League race of the season – in 15th.
Mark Appleton was the next scorer on a very busy day for him which saw him nip over to Wolverhampton for the race on a break from work!
The team scoring was closed out by Rich Lomas (35th) and Simon Lanckham (37th), who yet again both produced solid runs for the club.
A superb turnout for the club – 24 in total – helped to bolster the B team, with the reliable Darren Hale leading them home in 40th place, closely followed by Dave Gemmell in 45th.
The ever-present Kevin Lanckham was the third counter in 68th, followed by Malcolm Duff in 72nd, Steve Williams 92nd and Dave Gale 97th.
The B&R squad were bolstered by strong performances by Kevin Fisher 98th, James Hood 99th, Dean Hartshorne 116th, Anthony Warner 119th, Matt Henney 130th, Ian Keyte 132nd, Lewis Anderson 133rd, Mike Hanson 138th, Jamie Dancyger 150th, Phil Richardson 197th, Phil Anderson 205th and Alan Stanley 217th.
The men will next season face some of the best clubs in the Midlands including Tipton, Birchfield, Cheltenham, Coventry and both Birmingham and Loughborough Universities in Division One and can expect much tougher races.
James Bowler is one athlete who has experience of running in Division One over a decade ago and he emphasised the talent of the field the club can expect to face.
“It is tough,” said Bowler.
“To finish in the top 25 in Division One you need to be in 32-minute, 10k shape and even to feature in the 60s and 70s you have to be running pretty well.
“However, you become a better runner by competing against better runners and I am sure our guys will relish the challenge!”
Promoted teams: Birmingham & District Cross Country League Division Two – 1st Wolverhampton & Bilston 480 points; 2nd Bromsgrove & Redditch 607 points; 3rd Warwick University 610 points.
Women’s Midlands League Division Two – 1st Bromsgrove & Redditch 480 points; 2nd Tipton 523 points; 3rd Cheltenham Ladies’ College Striders 649 points.
B&R’s senior men’s team celebrate promotion. (s)