Exmouth Harriers run well in Cornwall

PUBLISHED: 08:46 13 November 2014 | UPDATED: 08:46 13 November 2014

They like their rugby down in Cornwall but what is perhaps less well known is that they also like a bit of running and in this year's Brooks Westward Cross Country League Cornwall AC already look favourites for the men's team title and are also in the running (to coin a phrase) for the Senior Women's trophy, writes Dave Eveleigh.

Twelve months ago Exmouth Harriers were described in the Cornish press as ‘this year’s surprise package’ in the league.

The only thing that has changed for 2014-2105 is that Exmouth success is much less unexpected this season.

Of course it helps having a quality runner like Tom Merson leading the line (literally in this sport) and picking up maximum points on a regular basis as he did at the second fixture at Newquay on Sunday, covering around five-and-a-half miles in 28:32.

There were five athletes inside 30 minutes and most of them would be ready to pick Tom off if he has a bad day, so he wouldn’t have taken his surfboard with him at the weekend.

However, this is very much a team event. Next to finish after Tom, in 14th, and in a time of 31:28, was Jamie Palmer and he is also leading the Over 45 Men’s category.

Tony Hatchard is certainly not Cornish, but he loves his cross country too and he finished 19th in 31:28.

Another veteran who will be looking for individual honours (in the Over 40 category) is Dave Stone who was 32nd in 32:29.

Adam Miller closed the team in with 35th place and 32:41 clocking.

This team performance enabled Exmouth to leap-frog Tavistock AC into a current second place in the Senior Men’s contest.

Cathy Newman was the only female runner from Exmouth.

She was eighth in around 20 minutes over a shorter course. Pregnancy has played a part in the smaller number of women running for Exmouth, but of course our own Jo Pavey has led us to expect (to coin another phrase) even greater things from returning mums!

It must be said though that numbers in general in this competition are up, with more than a hundred women and nearly two hundred men taking part in Newquay.

The truth is it is not that much different from the typical multi-terrain race to run in but it is a lot cheaper.

The next Westward League, in Exeter next month, incorporates the Devon Championships. With Tom Merson not eligible the Exmouth spotlight will be on the women, who are looking for their third senior title in a row.

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