Cross & Road Performances of the Week (29)

03 Apr
From Mike Down 
It’s been a quiet week, but those who did race were all competing at elite+ level  
1 TOM RUSSELL – Tom maintained his fine recent form by finishing a very close third for Scotland behind Bruce Raeside and recent arch rival James Walsh in the annual Home Countries cross-country international at Mansfield. If he had one disappointment it was not leading the Scottish team home, for although he beat all of the English team apart from Walsh, the overall winner Raeside stole that honour as the Scots only lost the match on countback. 
2 ROBBIE BUGDEN – Leading the Combined Services team in the same race Robbie also made the top ten in this prestigious traditional match, finishing a creditable 8th in the small select field. 
3 TOM MERSON – Tom, still striving to recover his true form after the bout of swine flu that wrecked his training for weeks, continued his rehabilitation by finishing a comfortable 4th in the Richard Burton memorial 10K at Cwmafan in a time of 32:11, which though some way short of his best was worth faster on the tough hiily course. 
1 CLAIRE HALLISSEY – Claire maintained her relentless progress up the national ranking ladder by finishing a close runner-up to budding track international Laura Kenney in the B&Q Eastleigh 10K. Kenney, who was making her debut over the distance on the road, clocked an impressive time of 32:48, which is the fastest by a British athlete in the UK this year, while Claire’s 33:10 was also a new personal best – a full 46 seconds faster than she recorded in last year’s Bristol 10K – and comparable to her best on the track last summer. She achieved this too after her training has been hampered of late by a niggling achilles tendon. 
2 REBEKAH RANDELL – Rebekah had to cede second best to former junior international star Emily Pidgeon in the Richard Burton 10K, but Pidgeon had something to prove after being left out of Britain’s World championship cross-country team and made her point with a creditable time for the tough terrain of 34:40. While Rebekah finished nearly a minute and a half adrift in 36:15, it was no mean performance as she was well ahead of both former Commonwealth 10,000m bronze medallist and international triathlete Andrea Whitcombe and her Gwent League conqueror this winter Ann-Marie Hutchinson.  
1 ANNABEL GUMMOW – What a great debut Annabel had at just 16 years of age to finish 30th in the World U20 cross-country championships at Bydgoszcz in Poland. If it was not for the presence alongside her in the team of the latest Aldershot prodigy Emelia Gorecka, who is a similar age, Annabel would be being hailed as the next star of the future. Not that that may do her any harm as she may well be spared any of the inevitable comparisons with the likes of Paula Radcliffe and Steph Twell at the same age. But to put her latest performance in perspective she was the 5th European – Gorecka was the 4th but only 12 seconds ahead despite Annabel having a minor fall early on as ironically she had done at Cofton Park in the Trial – while apart from a couple of Americans and Japaneses girls 19 of those in front of her were from African nations. With Eleanor Wimshurst also only just missing selection the future of our women’s team looks rosy! 
2 RICH PETERS – Making his cross-country debut for the England junior team in the Home Countries international Rich ensured they just pipped the Scots by finishing strongly to close to within a couple of seconds of his two fellow England scorers in 7th place – just half a minute down on the winner Matt Gillespie from Scotland. 
3 NATHAN YOUNG – Nathan put his disappointing run in the English Schools championships behind him by finishing a close second in the final Wessex League senior race at the Avon Heath Country Park, which was more than enough for him to clinch the overall title. 
1 HEATH BAMPTON – Heath, who was seemingly the only one of our Masters squad in action during the past week, clocked 17:14 for second place in the latest Swindon Parkrun 5K. 
Although not strictly coming within the remit of this column, I must mention the fine gold medal 800/1500m double recorded by Dave Bedwell in the V55 group at the recent British Masters indoor championships, at which Jerry Hogan also distinguished himself by only just missing out on a medal place in the V 45 1500m.    
MIKE DOWN (2-04-10)