The year got of to its usual start with the club hosting their annual New Years Day Handicap but there was a low turn out and only guests from Sedgley Striders and Tipton Harriers made the numbers respectable. And it was another low key weekend with only Dave Norman pulling on the hoops and racing in the Shropshire County Cross Country Championships finishing in 52nd place in 45.00 over a long course at Attingham Park.
It was not so much New Year, new you, but rather same old, same old, It may have been a new year but it was back to running around muddy fields as the cross country season continued. The men continued their battle for Division 2 survival in the Birmingham League travelling the short distance to Lilleshall for their fixture with the race being run over a figure of eight course with a few ups and downs and slippery muddy sections over a distance just shy of 6 miles. Stuart Perkins was first back for the club in 65th place in 35.38, Richard Bate was 79th in 36.08, Dave Norman came home in 103rd in 37.19 just ahead of Darran Bishop, two places behind in 37.35, Rob Sannwald finished in 37.51 in 113th and Simon Blizzard completed the A team counters in 124th place in 38.24. Simon Hughes was only a fraction behind in 126th in 38.29, Mark Homer was 133rd in 39.04, Matt Biggs made his return to the country after injury to finish in 158th in 40.33, Mark Judge was 181st in 41.35, Richard Jones 198th in 43.28 and Andy Weaver was 201st in 44.09. The club finished 14th of 16 on the day but importantly they were almost 200 points better off than their rivals for what would appear to be the final relegation place, Amazing Feet of Kidderminster. With one fixture remaining DK remain in 14th, one place above the drop but with a nice cushion which could be enough to maintain their Second Division status. The ladies were even closer to home only travelling the even shorter distance to Wolverhampton for their fixture in the West Midlands League. Despite missing some athletes and cutting it fine and almost missing the start they performed well, Karen Doy continuing her battle with Lyn Sprague and coming off the better finishing in 81st in 30.42 and 83rd in 30.45 respectively, Hannah McGuire was 98th 31.28, Jacqui Elson-Whittaker finished in 127th 33.07, Sue Payton was 157th in 35.03, Kimberley Ball was 176th in 36.28, Sarah Cox was 179th in 36.48, Paula Pallant was 180th in 37.06, Ingrid Cain was 181st in 37.07 and Cilla Harding finished in 37.25 in 184th place.
Twenty four hours later Roger Beddard took part in the Four Villages Half Marathon, a 13.1 mile race around the Cheshire countryside starting in the village of Helsby and travelling through the three other villages of Dunham on the Hill, Mouldsworth and Manley to give the race his name. Using the race as a training run as part of his marathon build up he finished in 841st place in 1.50.21.
The blue hoops had the opportunity to race in the Midlands Masters Cross Country Championships. With the league races on the back burner until next month this was effectively a cup game and like many cup games DK fielded a weakened side. With the race only open to runners over 35 years of age it was a case of experience over youth with DK fielding a single team of three runners in the M45 category. With the race taking place at Aldersley Stadium in Wolverhampton the trio didn’t have too far to travel but this was the third weekend in succession that the venue had hosted a cross country race and the ground over the 8k course was decidedly poached, rutted and muddy but with some imaginative course planning the organisers were able to miss out the worst parts over the four lap course. Although the DK runners were never in a position to trouble the winner, the recent Shropshire County champion and England international, Paul Ward of Telford AC who romped home unopposed in 27.48 the blue hoops performed well with Darran Bishop coming home in 25th place in 33.21, Dave Norman finished in 34.20 to take 29th place and Mark Homer brought the team home in 32nd position in 35.37 pocketing an individual bronze medal in the M55 age group. DK claiming a team silver medal sandwiched between the local heavyweights Tipton Harriers who took the gold medal and Wolverhampton & Bilston who bagged the bronze.
There was more cross country “cup” action for athletes from Dudley Kingswinford Running Club at the weekend but if last week was low key this week was other end of the cross country spectrum as a small group took part in the Midlands Cross Country Championships. With thousands travelling to the East Midlands to take part in a competition with a proud history going back to 1879 and boasting a roll of honour that includes some of the best names in the sport both individually and at club level the blue hoops were rubbing shoulders with the best in the region. The race, held this year at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough, was run over a testing undulating course of open parkland, and with age group races starting during the morning by the time the blue hoops took to the field there was already a well defined muddy furrow to follow.
The ladies were off first over a three lap course covering a distance of 8k with Helen Tromans putting illness and missed training behind her to come home in 79th place in 42.03, Hannah McGuire was 128th in 46.53, Carol Fisher was 150th in 48.23, Jacqui Elson-Whittaker finished in 48.57 to take 154th place and Cilla Harding was 185th in 54.51. The men’s race was away just over half an hour later over a four lap course and advertised at 12k, approximately 7 miles, however it became clear that the course would come up significantly longer than the expected distance, some two miles longer with finishers clocking nearer 9 ¼ miles rather than the expected distance. With a couple of late defections DK were only able to field five sixths of a team and with the weather turning unpleasant, with freezing cold sleet and a thunderstorm mid way through the race, the event became a proper slog. Darran Bishop made the best of his way home in the conditions to finish in 170th place in 63.45, Dave Norman finished in 65.19 to take 201st place, Mark Homer was 219th in 66.46, Andy Weaver came home in 301th place in 74.35 and Richard Jones was 324th in 75.52.