Leamington C&AC ended the season on a high last Saturday after both their men and ladies gained promotion to the top divisions of the Birmingham Cross-Country League.
The men went into the final race of nearly seven miles around Coundon Hall Park level on points with Warwick University and despite losing key runners to a stag do, finished second on the day to fill the second of three promotion spots behind the students.
It went some way to ease the pain of two successive fourth-placed finishes for the club.
On a day which started with snow flurries and barely rose above freezing, a fast pace was set by a leading group of five on a flat course.
It was clear from the outset that Warwick University had all their top runners out with all six counters inside the first 13 on the first of the three laps.
Callum Hanlon and clubmate Andy Savery were always up with the leading group and had their own battle, with Hanlon finishing third in 37:27 and Savery just eight seconds and one place adrift.
Cross-country captain Phil Gould, running his 40th consecutive Birmingham League race, was always in the mix for ninth (38:48) and at this stage C&AC were ahead of the students.
However, better top-end packing from Warwick helped them finish 34 points ahead.
Tom Foulerton, suffering with a cold, was the fourth scorer for Leamington in 24th (39:54), with Birmingham League debutant Dominic Hull 30th (40:29) and Paul Andrew 40th in 41:09.
Great packing meant Leamington increased their lead at the head of the B team event with Jack Savage (43rd in 41:22), Charlie Staveley (46th in 41:30), Johnny Brown (55th in 42:04), Dean Mawby (57th in 42:15), Eoin O’Flynn (62nd in 42:31 and Sam Wadsworth (71st in 43:00) their counters.
With a first, second and third placing during the year, Hanlon claimed the league’s individual silver behind masters’ international Paul Ward of Telford AC, who was again first across the line in 37:16.
One hour before at Warwick University campus the ladies from Leamington were just as determined to end the season on a high with promotion to the top flight of the Midland Ladies Cross-Country League for the first time in their history.
Zara Blower again led the team home, finishing 12th in 23:35 which gave her the senior bronze medal for the season.
Pushing her all the way this year has been Jenny Jeeves with her best season to date and she was two places and 12 seconds behind Blower to secure bronze in the masters’ event.
Monica Williamson, making a welcome return to action after long-term injury, was 19th in 24:10, with Courtney Thornberry (34th in 25:37) securing her best placing of the season.
This gave Leamington second place on the day and the season behind Cannock and Staffordshire.
Jane Evans of Knowle and Dorridge was first home in 21:45 and there were 226 finishers.