Matlock Athletics Club runners burn off those Christmas calories

FESTIVE FIRST -- Toby Gill on his way to becoming the first junior home in the Queens Head Belper 5k over Christmas.
FESTIVE FIRST -- Toby Gill on his way to becoming the first junior home in the Queens Head Belper 5k over Christmas.

Runners at Matlock Athletics Club jumped at two ideal opportunites to burn off those Christmas calories over the festive holiday weekend.

For they took part in the club’s own annual Beetroot Race on Boxing Day and then tackled the Queens Head Belper 5k 24 hours later.

The Beetroot event started from High Peak Junction, with the adults’ race taking a twist this year as many competitors explored the muddier, but more direct, route to the summit of Bolehill through the woods. It’s actually taken more than 20 years for members to realise this route could give them an advantage over the drier route up past Black Rocks!

The switch paid off, though, with Luke Berresford coming home first in a time of 23.46 minutes, ahead of Rob Hart, who was second in 25.54, and Matt Jones, who was third in 27.10.

The remainder of the top-20 placings were filled by: 4th Karl Webster (and Jess the dog) 28.08, 5th Wendy Fjellstad 28.57, 6th Martin Lea 30.39, 7th John Webster 32.34, 8th Antony Lester 32.44, 9th Dennis Holmes 33.57, 10th John Birch (and Ellie the dog) 34.11.

11th Caroline Webster 35.22, 12th Samuel Hart 37.30, 13th Christine Howard 38.07, 14th Darran Nuttall 38.55, 15th Richard Pegram 39.32, 16th Ian Warton-Woods 40.55, 17th Maria Hart 43.02, 18th Laurie Croft 43.40, 19th Andrea Atkinson 45.43 and 20th Michelle Lester 48.14.

The junior race, which took in the short course to the top of Sheep Pasture Incline and back, was won most convincingly by Joe Currie in a time of 12.29 minutes, way ahead of second-placed Michaela Dick in 14.25 and third-placed Alex Currie in 14.59.

In fourth was Elizabeth Webster in 14.23, fifth was Josh Nuttall in 15.47, sixth was James Briggs in 16.05, seventh was Will Croft in 16.19, eighth was Oscar Atkinson in 16.19, ninth was Freya Lester in 18.45 and tenth was Klara Hart in 28.18.

Running conditions were ideal for the Belper event, which attracted a fine turnout of 129, including competitors from many locals clubs and as far afield as Germany.

A deceptively hilly and challenging route took the Ridgeway towards Nether Heage for 2.5k before doubling back to the finish. However, that didn’t bother Matlock AC’s Toby Gill, who was first junior home, and 39th overall, in a time of 20.52 minutes. His mum, Hayley, also ran, clocking 23.39, while Ellie Wilson was an impressive 86th and second junior woman in 24.39 and Jan Forrester was first to finish in the lady veteran 60 category, posting a time of 25.31.

The race was won by Jack Leafe, of South Derbyshire Running Club, in 17.26, while the first lady was Nicki Heaton, of Huncote Harriers, in 18.57.