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Muddy hell for Havering but O’Neill shows she is a star with a magnificent seventh

PUBLISHED: 17:00 28 February 2020

The Havering senior men's squad at the National cross-country championships

The Havering senior men's squad at the National cross-country championships

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Havering AC runners braved some of the toughest conditions in recent memory in Nottingham for the National Cross-Country Championships on Saturday.

Havering's John Whitehead splashes through the puddles at the National cross-countryHavering's John Whitehead splashes through the puddles at the National cross-country

Wollaton Park had thick mud and deep puddles as well as a flooded stream to cope with, but the Havering athletes did just that.

Kate O'Neill's fine winter season continued as she battled her way to a stunning seventh place in the under-20 race, a day before her 19th birthday.

Sophie Rand backed her up in 77th, while Sam Atkins, the sole Havering runner in the under-20 men's race, flew the flag well in finishing 76th.

The senior women had a scoring four led by Morgan Campbell in 114th, over 60 places higher than her first National last year.

Havering's Kate O'Neill is up with the leaders on her way to seventh at the National cross country champs in NottinghamHavering's Kate O'Neill is up with the leaders on her way to seventh at the National cross country champs in Nottingham

Ginte Bailey was 143rd, with Robyn Matson 251st and Clare Davies in 376th seeing the team finish 27th, while the senior men's team put out nine runners and finished 40th in their category, with most of them saying they had never been in a tougher race.

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They were led home by a disappointed Rob Warner who had his shoe half pulled off in the first 30 yards of the 12k race and had to watch hundreds of runners pass him as he tried to put it back on.

He battled back, but could only finish 213th.

Next home was Gavin Watts in 349th whose army experience helped him through the mud.

Barry Smith (430th) and John Whitehead (571st) did well to handle the course that left many of the nearly 2,000 runners walking.

James Stewart (678th) found the going tough, but Steve Walker (872nd) seemed to relish the race, finishing in front of some of his team-mates.

Martin Chester was next home in 952nd with Gary Atkins (978th) not far behind as the team was completed by Roy James (1,244th).

The club had fewer in action in the younger age groups but Hannah Evans put a recent bout of ill-health behind her to finish in front of sibling Charlotte as the twins finished 138th and 151st in the under-13s. Rosie Warner was 218th.

Matt Blacklock and Max Robbins were 131st and 243rd in the under-15 race, with Tilly Canty (114th) the only member in the under-15 girls' race.


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