THERE were some superb performances by Reading Athletic Club’s young athletes at Mansfield on Saturday in the National Cross Country Relay Championships, with the Under 20 women finishing fifth.

Over a challenging course, Reading’s Kirsty Walker competed magnificently on the opening stage of the U20 3x2.5km race, to finish in third position in a time of 8min 28secs, although, as in all the races, the first-leg runners ran some 40 metres less than those on the other legs, worth about eight seconds.

On stage two, Katie Rodda hung on bravely for eighth place in 9.37, and then on the last leg Nancie Bowley ran a fine 9.17 to bring the team home.

In the men’s U20 3x3km race, Reading’s Alex Sutton had a good solid run on the first leg for 15th place in a time of 8.51, and Eddie Steveni ran well to move the team up to seventh on stage two in 9.04, before Chey Blatchford-Kemp, still regaining fitness, completed the team in 11th position with 9.20. Peter Cook and Mikey Lennon, both making welcome returns from injury, ran the first two stages for the B team, with Cook finishing 32nd in 9.10, and Lennon holding on to 32nd with 9.33. Due to a mix-up over numbers Tom Nike on the third leg did not get a time.

For Reading’s U13 girls in their 3x2km race, Ella Newman ran a fine time of 7.36 on the first stage for 12th place, handing over to Holly Haldane who ran brilliantly to gain three places in 7.45 and Evie Elson gained another position on the final stage in running 8.06 to give the team a splendid eighth place of the 98 competing teams.

Meanwhile, Reading’s B team of Lydia Godfrey, Lola Batt and Emma Yeadon all ran well to finish 67th.

Reading fielded a weakened U13 boys’ team in their 3x2km race, but those who competed did well to finish 42nd.

Aidan Marshall gave the team a good start with a fast 7.24 on the opening stage for 34th position, and then Adam Tivey’s effort of 7.49 left Reading in 35th at the end of stage two, before Nick Haldane held on determinedly with a time of 8.12 to bring the team home in 42nd place.

In the U17 women’s 3x2.5km race, Abi Hancock ran well with a time of 9.23 to come in 27th on the opening stage, handing over to Hermione Walker who pulled the team up to 16th with a fine 9.32 clocking, and then anchor leg runner Naomi Harris came home in an excellent 9.16 to give Reading a final position of 11th.

Reading’s B team also had a good race with Renee Whalley (9.40), Georgia Whalley (9.55) and Oonagh O’Driscoll (10.27) combining well for 31st place.

For Reading’s U17 men’s team in their 3x3km race, Tom Rickards justified his selection by finishing in 38th place on the first stage in a time of 9.39.

Ben Rollings on stage two improved the team’s position to 29th with a gutsy effort of 9.46, and Mattie Raynor then ran a fine 9.43 on the final leg to bring Reading home in a creditable 24th place at the finish.

For Reading’s incomplete B team, Joseph Mott opened with a 9.54 clocking for 52nd place, which Olly Moor with a run of 10.13 improved to 47th at the end of stage two.

For the U15 girls in their 3x2km race, Reading’s Jemima Crocker ran 8.19 for 96th place on the opening stage, followed by Katie Barnes who moved through to 76th with a time of 8.10, and Talia Painting whose 8.12 effort pulled more back to bring the team in at 64th.

For the U15 boys’ team in their 3x2km race, Reading’s Laurie Baker fought hard on stage one to finish 79th in a time of 7.06.

On the second leg Ollie Craggs had an excellent run to pull Reading up to 46th place with a fast 6.54, and Aryan Gupta in running 7.06 was then able to improve the team’s position further to 38th at the finish.