ALEX Benfield is within touching distance of the North Midlands Cross Country League Under-20s title after the penultimate race at Shipley Park proved full of drama for Burton AC athletes.
In the combined senior men’s and under-20s race, Cory Parker and Benfield (pictured) were battling it out for honours in the latter category, with Benfield in pole position prior to the race and Parker holding third place – only two points adrift of second spot.
Benfield pushed out hard, completing the first circuit of the three-lap 9.5k course in seventh place.
Parker was within touching distance and competing hard with his nearest rival for second.
Benfield dropped back from the senior leaders, which included Spanish international Alberto Sanchez, and cemented his dominance in this year’s competition by winning the under-20s race for the third time which, barring disaster should guarantee the 17-year-old success in the under-20s championship at the first time of asking.
Parker, on the other hand, was suffering, and a severe stitch on the second lap wiped out any hopes of a silver, or any medal in this series.
However, he recovered enough to complete the course and he now sits in sixth place in the championship, with an outside chance of third if he finds his early season form.
Gordy Smith was still hoping a veteran medal was within his grasps as he began the race in sixth place.
However, that is where he stayed after finishing in 44th place.
Matt Wagstaff was next in, finishing in 74th place in just under 40 minutes, while newcomer Lawrence Cox fared well, crossing the line in 91st place.
Gareth Cantrill was 128th, while Ian Parker and Kevin Stackhouse, who ran the course together, swapping places several times, were 134th and 135th.
Rob Sharratt finished in 163rd, just ahead Eamon O’Hanlon who, in his first race back from injury, was 164th.
Paul Mathie was the final counter for the black and blue vest as he finished in 182nd place.
Alec Stackhouse recorded his third ninth-place finish in the Under-15 boys race, moving him up to fifth in the overall championship.
Myles and Mollie O’Hanlon had their best races of the season with Myles getting 19th place in the Under-13 boys race, while his sister recorded 12th in the Under-15 girls race.
Ailis McFarlane made her debut in the Under-13 girls race after a good track season and did herself proud, running well for 17th place, while Sioban Mathie completed her third race of the season in the Senior ladies race, crossing the line with a season best 68th place.
Sunday’s Sneyd Striders 10-mile Christmas Pudding Run was the final race in South Derbyshire Road Runners’ 2013 Club Championship.
Six runners made the journey to Bloxwich and lined up with 379 others in near perfect running conditions.
Shane Chapman was first back for the club in 36th place (1:03:52, followed by elder brother Paul in 42nd (1:05:55) and Andy Orme in 43rd (1:06:14).
Stephen Leafe, who has struggled a bit lately with injury, bounced back well for 83rd (1:10:22_ to make four in the top 100 for SDRR in a very competitive field.
The reliable Gary Price finished next in 181st in a PB of 1:18:47 and birthday boy David Lunn rounded up the club’s contingent in 308th (1:33:11).
Kelly Knight and Mark Coombes were also in action on Sunday in the Keyworth Turkey Trot Half Marathon, with both recording significant PBs.
Coombe ran a chip time of 1.38.12 for a superb 244th place in a large field, with Knight not far behind with 1.41.54 for 302nd place overall.