February kicked off with the Stourbridge Stagger with plenty of blue hoops in attendance, Kevin Duckworth was first back in 25th place in 1.07.09, Mick Quane was 49th in 1.12.24, Mark Homer claimed 63rd position in 1.14.11, Helen Tromans claimed 1st in her age group and 84th overall in 1.16.28, Richard Jones finished in 1.19.35 in 102nd, Tracey Alderson was 116th in 1.20.30, Rebecca Warren was 136th in 1.22.19 a position ahead of Rory Campbell in 137th in 1.22.23, Darren Marklew was 145th in 1.23.30, Andy Weaver was 150th in 1.23.56, Hannah McGuire was 180th in 1.26.37, John Andrews was 196th in 1.27.32, Karen Doy finished in 1.32.14, Jacqui Elson-Whittaker in 1.33.21, Lisa Kendrick in 1.35.17, Kathryn Sneyd in 1.36.00, Carol Fisher also bagged an age group 1st in 289th in 1.36.50, Stephen Grosvenor came home in 1.37.38, Sue Payton in 1.38.26 and Tony Noke in 1.48.36.
As the month continued it was the moment of truth, at least for the male athletes from Dudley Kingswinford Running Club, as they continued their battle against relegation from the Second Division of the Birmingham Cross Country League. Going into the final fixture in 14th place in the league, 4th from bottom, they were just on the fringes of the relegation places but needed another solid performance, at least better than Amazing Feet who filled the final relegation place in 15th, to prevent the trap door from opening beneath them. Only 6 ½ miles around Coundon Park in Coventry to complete but with the club hit with injury and unavailability the blue hoops were still hoping to field a reasonably strong team. Stuart Perkins was first back for DK in 52nd place in 41.59, Rich Bate came home in 43.08 to take 74th place, Darran Bishop was 92nd in 44.02, Simon Hughes finished in 99th in 44.18, Rob Sannwald was 125th in 45.41 despite struggling with a knee injury, and Simon Blizzard completed the A team scorers in 134th in 46.18, the first six scorers totalling their best score of the season with 579 points. Mark Homer was 7th back for the club in 135th place in 46.24, Kevin Duckworth finished in 156th in 47.55 nursing a damaged hamstring around the final lap, Steve Parr was 189th in 50.18, Andrew Weaver was 199th in 51.06, Richard Jones was 213th in 52.22 and Rory Campbell completed the scorers in 215th in 53.00. With Amazing Feet scoring 722 points in a competition where lower is better DK maintained their 14th place in some style with a comfortable gap between them and the three relegated teams, Amazing Feet, Sparkhill Harriers and Staffordshire Moorlands.
While the men were in Coventry the ladies were only down the road in Warwick to complete their season but again were missing some of their regular scorers. On a bleak afternoon Karen Doy was first over the line for DK in 69th place in 27.59 just holding off Hannah McGuire who finished a place and a single second behind, Jacqui Elson-Whittaker was 112th in 30.22, Jane Campbell and Lucy Elwell had an epic battle finishing with the same time of 32.29 in 143rd and 144th respectively, Sue Payton was 151st in 33.08, Cilla Harding was 184th in 35.43 and Sarah Krivosic finished in 43.28 in 223rd place.
After bringing the cross country season to a close a fortnight ago there was one fixture left on the calendar, the National Cross Country Championship, the equivalent of the cross country runners FA Cup final at Wollaton Park in Nottingham. The ladies were off first running over a 3 lap course covering 8k with some biting little inclines and long stretches of boggy ground, black clinging mud and shin deep water. Helen Tromans was first home for the hoops in 304th place in 38.35, Hannah McGuire was 492nd in 42.49, Carrol Fisher finished in 47.43 to take 660th place and Cilla Harding was 753rd in 53.52. With the ladies teams restricted to just 4 runners the DK ladies placed 80th in the country of the 93 clubs able to field a team. With a couple of drop outs and late defections the men were unable to field a team in an event where clubs needed to run 6 athletes to count but the four sixths of a team remaining still made the trip to represent the club knowing they wouldn’t appear in the team rankings. On a similar course to the ladies but a lap longer the men had to negotiate the same near bottomless stretches of mud and water but as this was the last race on the card the course was even more churned up. Rob Sannwald was first back, getting the best of a prolonged battle with Mark Homer over the 12k course with each taking it in turns to lead. Sannwald stalking his team mate for the best part of the last lap before pushing on in sight of the finish to come home in 55.37 in 1031st place, Homer was only a few seconds behind claiming 1037th place in 55.44, Dave Norman, on the comeback after injury made a tentative return, finishing in 57.37 in 1160th position and Andrew Weaver was 1506th in 1.03.58.
Twenty four hours later on a quiet Sunday for racing Dave Ede completed the Thorpe Park Half Marathon in 1.49.24 to take 897th place.