Forget the Baftas and their fairytale storylines! Matlock Athletics Club can give you a real zero-to-hero tale after their ladies were crowned cross-country league champions!
Two years ago, the club had trouble fielding a ladies’ team at all in the Booths Decorators League (BDL), even though they required only three runners.
But a recruitment drive and the formation of a running group, spearheaded by former ladies’ captain Nicky Dick, soon changed all that. And now they have won the team competition in the BDL, beating 11 other clubs to the title.
They went into the final round at Holmebrook Valley Park in Chesterfield with a five-point lead and despite a very cold day in sleet, driving rain and lots of mud, they held on to finish with 57 points in total, four clear of runners-up Ilkeston, who were followed by Heanor with 51 points. What’s more, one member of the team, Jade Stone, was the top individual lady runner of the series after she was first female home in the last round in a time of 36.06 minutes.
The team are prospering to such an extent that they have no problem fielding the five runners now required. In fact, for one event, 12 turned up! They have also tackled national and regional championships.
A club spokeswoman said: “Before 2014, some of these ladies could barely run down the road. But with coaching and bonding, and their confidence growing, they have thrived to become proper runners.”
Nineteen of Matlock’s male runners also competed at Chesterfield, with Colin Davenport first home in seventh place after clocking 32.53 minutes. Mike Blair was 11th in 33.42, junior Joe Hallas 26th in 35.02, Rupert Holden 34th in 36.55 and another junior, Birtie West, 42nd in 37.36. Mick Moorhouse was first male veteran over-60 to finish in 44.17.
As well as Stone’s success, Jo Grant was the first lady veteran over-45 home in 42.54, while Nicky Dick was the first lady veteran over-50 in 46.40, Jan Forrester first lady veteran over-60 in 50.55, Hayley Gill second lady veteran over-40 in 41.41 and Karen Morley third lady veteran over-55 in 56.26.