National Cross Country Champs 2012
TWO NATIONAL XC BRONZE MEDALS
The ultimate cross-country race is the 'National' and the 2011/12 promotion returned to its spiritual home at Parliament Hill Fields (London). The Roll of Honour of those who've run there boasts decades of Britain's top athletes. Every runner must once visit this mecca and remember the thunder of the athlete's feet as they propel from the pens to jostle for top positions as they converge for the bottle-neck at the top of the first hill.
Positioned in the start zone that offers panoramic views of London, Club Chairman David Brown CBE had the honour of being its Chief Starter for the first time. He'd recently attained his Level 4 in Event Management, and such is his growing national reputation, he'd earlier been the chief Starter at the Aviva Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham. It was David who got all ten age-groups toed properly to the line and off on their renowned stampedes. His wife Club Secretary Carol Brown was there also as part of the start team, a role she's fulfilled at the 'National' for a number of years.
The most successful of the club's teams was undoubtedly, the U13 girls who finished a fantastic third. They were the first Northern team and produced the section's best result for thirteen years. Three of the quartet of Eleanor Twite (26th), Francesca Brint (27th), Ciara Lydon (44th) and Olivia Green (58th) are a year young who, all things being equal, could win this Championship next year. Francesca had a great run finishing higher than in the Northern XC Championships when the team won the bronze medals. Congratulations to these youngsters. Bracknall AC retained the title for the third successive year and Charnwood AC was second.
The other outstanding performance of the day was Sonia Samuels who repeated her bronze medal performance from 2009. The race also marked the 20th anniversary of when she first started competing in National Cross-Country Championships. Just returned from altitude training in Kenya and her first major race since last July, she decided to test her strength for her inaugural London marathon in April. She chose the Parliament Hill course as her favourite to test her current strength. She battled from the start with eventual winner Gemma Steel and runner-up Steph Twell and it was only in the race to the tape that it became impossible to beat the Olympic 1500m youngster. Sonia missed out on the elusive National title by a measly three seconds and though awarded the same time as Twell as runners-up, hers was to be the bronze medal and the confidence boost she needed. Sonia has had a fantastic history in these Championships of never been outside the top eight for over a decade. She led the team home to a respectable 10th that's consistent with the section's current depth and form and without several of their top girls. Emily Beedham (109th) was next home followed by Hayley Cavill (164th) and Jan Nicholls (212th), both having their National inductions..
Both the U15 girls and boys produced their best results for many years. The girl's squad of Catherine Podmore, Rachel Hibbert, Flora Whyte, Hannah Simeen, Caithlin Thomas and Hannah Cristy finished 13th, and the boy's quarter of Adam Roden, Sam Mayon, Dillon Stanway and Euan Gilchrist finished 23rd These are solid groups of youngsters who'll have gained worthwhile experience of the big occasion including staying overnight in a hotel.
The U17 men are already the Northern Road Relay and the Northern XC Relay Champions. They finished 19th, again the section's best result for awhile. Northern XC Champion Ryan Moore (15th) was first home but this time beaten by the winner Matthew Shirling (L'pool H & AC). He was well supported by Alex Burchill, Kyle Conway and Alex Bradford. In the U17 girl's race, only Megan Davies (30th) Misha Nayak-Oliver and Chloe Yates took part. Congratulations to Megan for her 6th place in the U17 Scottish National Cross-Country Championships the previous week and to Misha whose result was much improved from previous years. Imani Modahl, Tyra Watson, Kirsten McAslan and Chris Mc Gahan were competing in the National Indoors and would have made a big difference to their team's overall results.
For the senior men, this year's Championship was the 125th running and it was as awesome as ever with 2000 starters. Sale finished 23rd, identical to last year and again consistent with the section's current depth and availability. As ever, Gaz Raven (30th) was the first home. This was Gaz's eighteenth consecutive senior National and his twentieth overall since he ran twice as a junior, the first time in 1993 at the same Parliament Hill venue James Bailey (68th) equalled his best ever position in an National; Ian Weatherall (204th) had another superb run as a veteran whilst Niall Brooks (274th), Paul Green (447th) and Colin Gell (453) all struggled. Others who flew the club flag were Gary Rowlinson (495th), Carl Barber (586th), Mike Ashby (620th), Paul Barrett (713th), Peter Crawford (853rd) and Phil Scowcroft (926th).
Neither the U20 men nor women were able to complete a team, a reflection of the continuing demise of these age-groups in running. Charlie Hulson did well to finish 15th and must be congratulated on winning the U20 Welsh XC Championships two weeks earlier. James Wignall finished 51th and Callum Greenwood 71st.
All the team managers were unanimous in expressing their congratulations and gratitude. Steve Windebank wrote of the youngsters, "I think I can speak for all the coaches in saying we're very proud of your efforts. At the end of a tiring weekend and long, hard season, it was all made worthwhile seeing everyone running their hearts out. A big 'Thank You' to the parents for supporting the lads and lassies over the weekend". Special thanks also to team manager Dave Rodgers who sorted out all the accommodation- no easy task and who has throughout the season provided the teams with very welcome shelter at the cross country fixtures! Thank you Dave!! (Written by Fechin Mc Cormick)
Posted 29/02/2012 11:59