National Cross-Country Championships
The National Cross Country Championships, the pinnacle of the cross-country season, took place at Alton Tower on February 19th. With unprecedented mud, it was far from a fun-fair but more a Big-Dipper for the thousands who assembled from all over the country. More extensive reports and photographs will follow in the March edition of the Harrier magazine.
Our U/13 boys were the club's most successful. This is what Coach Steve Windebank wrote 'Conditions for the 300 starters were testing to say the least. Overnight rain and snow meant there was 20cm of mud in places and that was on the spectator's side of the fence! The conditions dictated that the U/13 boy's course be shortened, but there was such confusion amongst the organisers that the lads set off not knowing whether the race would be over one lap or two. Despite these set backs, they acquitted themselves well with the first four counters (Bradley Yates 12th, Christy O'Brien 29th, Adam Roden 36th and Euan Gilchrist 67th) totalling 144points and taking the bronze medal behind Tonbridge AC 102 points and Leicester Coritanian an impressive 69 points. These four were ably supported by Daniel Brint 164th, Sam Bolton 253rd and Jordan Bezzina 284th. This has been an extremely successful and record breaking year for this age group, with the team taking gold medals in the Northern and National road relays and bronze medals in the Northern and National cross country events. This is in addition to numerous local area team and individual titles held by Bradley Yates, Christy O'Brien, Adam Roden & Michael Quinn. Well done from the coaches to all those who have competed over the winter months and a big thank you to the parents for their support.'
It was also a good day for the U/15 girls! They finished 18th, a vast improvement that bodes well for the future. Abigail Fitton, silver medalist in the MACCL League, Caithlin Thomas, running her second National, Rachel Hibbert, competing in her third National and Imani Modahl comprised the hard-working team ably backed up by Connie Vickers and Eleanor Canham. All these girls have also had a great cross-county season.
Our U/20 lads also had a fantastic day! The quartet of Jamie Roden, Derbyshire's U/20 champion had a great race to finish 7th and will be eligible for this age-group again next year; Callum Greenwood also had one of his best ever runs and James Wignall finished a commendable 85th, producing the section's best result since they won bronze in 2006. Had Niall Brookes, Europe's top junior middle distance specialist, not fallen and lost his spikes and had Ryan Worland and Charlie Hulson been available to run, the team would almost certainly have been among the medals.
The extreme mud and safety reasons also dictated the senior women's race be shortened to 6k from 8k. Nine women braved the conditions and produced a very reasonable 9th place considering the absence of a fourth 'top 100' contender.
Sonia Samuels has not been out of the top 10 in her career of Senior National XC competitions and consolidated this success with a solid 5th place. Lucy O'Gorman had high hopes following her 4th place achievement at the Northern and despite feeling under the weather all week managed an excellent 19th place. Rachel Deegan showed her consistency by finishing 48th, just 1 place different to last year's National.
Olivia Napier, club newcomer and Senior National Cross Country debutant completed the team in 247th place. Of the 'also ran's'; Joanne Street was pleased with her highest National XC placing to date (249th); Alison Pye (313th) didn't run as well as she has in the past but is in the process of converting to longer mileage in preparation for some summer road races; Sian Holland (283rd, Helena Murphy (374th) and Lauren Davies (380th) all made their National XC debut and will certainly remember it for the mud!
Over the years the senior men have been consistently in the top ten with last year's eighteenth place disappointing. Team Manager Dave Rodgers will undoubtedly, therefore, be disappointed with this year's twenty-fourth place. Front runner Gaz Raven, who's run every 'National' since 1993 and rarely been outside the top twenty, described the muddy, hilly course as 'the worst ever'. Lacking the endurance of Marathon preparation and the shortened course did not suit him, he was disappointed to finish 22nd. Indeed James Bailey (120th), Phil Scowcroft (408th), Elton Davies (468th) and Paul Barrett (759th) were unprepared for the tough, ankle deep mud, steep climb and tough undulations. Only mud freak Mike Hatch delighted in the mire and, despite still returning to full fitness, finished a commendable 271st.
Posted 15/01/2012 20:04