Tod veterans overhaul Blackburn in title dash

Todmorden runners at the Red Rose Cross Country League event last weekend are, from the left, back:  Dan Taylor, Paul Brannigan, Ivan Gee, Robin Tuddenham, Nick Barber, James Logue, Andrew Wrench, Dwane Dixon, Steve Pullan, Matt Flanagan. Front: Chris Goddard, Craig Stansfield, Dave Garner, Ben Crowther

Todmorden runners at the Red Rose Cross Country League event last weekend are, from the left, back: Dan Taylor, Paul Brannigan, Ivan Gee, Robin Tuddenham, Nick Barber, James Logue, Andrew Wrench, Dwane Dixon, Steve Pullan, Matt Flanagan. Front: Chris Goddard, Craig Stansfield, Dave Garner, Ben Crowther

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Todmorden Harriers sent their strongest squad of 2014 to Marl Pits in Rossendale for the final race in the Red Rose Cross Country League.

Team spirit and desire has grown from race one, in which a skeleton men’s squad performed well enough to inspire a push for honours.

Greater commitment in races two and three enabled Tod to close the gap on Blackburn and Rossendale.

In the fourth and last race of the season the big winners were Todmorden’s male veterans team who produced their finest performance in the series to overhaul Blackburn and win the title.

The ladies veterans team had built up a head of steam over the four races to secure third place overall.

Mel Blackhurst capped a fantastic year by being crowned the club’s ladies cross country champion.

The race for the equivalent male title went right down to the wire.

Andrew Wrench finished in front of Nick Barber for the first time but it was Barber who took the title, scoring 183.6 points to Wrench’s 183.1. That equates to a 10 second gap over the whole competition.

While Wrench, Barber and Logue were driving the Tod train, Ivan Gee, Dwane Dixon, Robin Tuddenham, Paul Brannigan, Chris Goddard, Craig Stansfield and Dave Garner were down in the engine room powering a procession of red, white and blue Tod vests across the line.

That gave them a superb men’s open team win on the day and third place in the overall team competition.

Paul Brannigan won the overall Red Rose title in the age 50-54 category while Nick Barber was second in the 35-39 category.

Mel Blackhurst came third in the ladies’ 45-49 section while Moyra Parfitt missed first place in the 65-69 category by one point.

Jack Crummett finished 11th overall in the under 17 competition, clocking 20.05 at the weekend, and Jamie Lannagan finished 58th in the under 11 boys race in 8.10.

Ladies: 14, Mel Blackhurst 23.0; 23, Kath Brierley 24.06; 40, Catherine Elvin 25.41; 48, Mel Siddall 26.19; 68, Mandy Goth 29.17; 75, Moyra Parfitt 30.09.

Men: 5, James Logue 29.46; 11, Andrew Wrench 31.14; 13, Nick Barber 31.37; 28, Ivan Gee 32.52; 29, Dwane Dixon 33.02; 37, Robin Tuddenham 33.41; 39, Paul Brannigan 33.59; 42, Chris Goddard 34.06; 44, Craig Stansfield 34.23; 52, Dave Garner 34.43; 57, Dan Taylor 35.04; 59, Ben Crowther 35.20; 67, Steve Pullan 35.55; 83, Matt Flanagan 37.08.

Todmorden Harriers welcome and look after runners of all ability. Check out www.todharriers.co.uk for details.