Those of us who remember the last few years were thankful that the rain held off – the down-hill stretch of the course was already wet enough. In the primary school races there were significant numbers and very competitive races, whilst in the ages from 11 upwards the lack of numbers didn’t prevent the spectators from seeing equally as competitive racing.
The events started with the under-11 boys where 65 finishers after a 4 minute 20 second winning time gave the finish marshals a lot to deal with. Luke Davies from Gwent came home a clear winner (4:20) in front of Bertie Holdsworth (4:24), who made the long trip from Cornwall worthwhile with second place, in front of local runner and Bristol & West clubmate Anton Mills (4:47). Gwent narrowly won a very competitive Inter-Area Challenge by one point from North Somerset. Westfield Primary School were individual school winners.
In the girls under-11 race Abigail Saker won in 4:34 (a time that would have seen her finish eighth in the boy’s race). Runner-up was Lucy Davies (4:38) of Gwent and Amy Barlow of Mendip was third in 4:46. There were 72 finishers and area winners were North Somerset with Mendip in second place. Flax Bourton were the individual school winners.
There were only 14 finishers in the boys under-13 race but that didn’t devalue the fight for the podium with Tyler Pritchard of Cwmbran edging out Mark Bailey of Mendip. Both were given the same time of 6:54 for the 2 kilometre course with Sam Somerville of Yeovil Olympiads third in 6:58. Mendip AC won the team race scoring 18 points.
In the under-13 girls 16 runners finished and Elisabeth Hood of Poole made the long journey worthwhile with a convincing win in 7:12. Heidi Davies of Gwent was second in 7:40 and Emma Jones of Westbury Harriers put her training over the course to good use when finishing third in 7:46 – as she led Westbury Harriers to a team victory.
Only eleven athletes contested the under-15 boys race where Miles Burton of Team Bath clocked 9:55 for the 3 kilometre course. Behind him, Matthew Dickinson of Wells City Harriers finished second in 10:03 and Oscar Holdsworth finished third for Bristol & West in 10:24. Bristol & West were team winners with 18 points.
The under-15 and under-17 girls age groups raced together and it was a Sadler 1-2 as first Olivia won the under-17 race in 11:06 to be followed by younger sister Miranda winning the under-15 race in 11:14. Runners-up in the under-15 race were Loren Bleaken of Team Bath (11:24) and third-placed Alex Mundell in 11:34. Ribble Valley were team winners with 18 points. In the under-17 girls race runner-up was Aoife Thoroughgood of Mendip (11:32) with Victoria Kenney of Clifton College third in 11:40. Team winners were again Ribble Valley.
In the under-17 boys Hobie Martin of Bristol & West was another athlete to make a long journey worthwhile as he won clearly in 9:25. Aaron Phelps, who was part of a sizeable Stroud contingent, was second in 9:33 and Alexander Hill of Team Bath made the podium in third with a time of 9:51. Team winners were Bristol & West AC with 13 points.
The senior women’s race was a very competitive affair and as with several of the other races was contested by athletes looking for a sharpener six days before the trials to pick the GB Team for the European cross-country championships. Windsor, Slough & Eton duo Kerry Harty and Sophie Morris were soon mixing with a whole posse of Bristol & West athletes including Imogen Ainsworth, Rebekah Randell and Katie Knowles; while the under-20 trio of Hannah Alderson, Ellie Wimshurst and Annika Jarman were also well to the fore. Into the second half of the race and Kerry Harty showed good form before next weekend’s Irish Championships but Sophie Morris and Imogen Ainsworth chased her hard to the line. The final 1,2,3 was Kerry Harty in 13:58, Sophie Morris in 14:01 and Imogen Ainsworth in 14:02. On the last lap Rebekah Randell never gave up as she finished fourth in 14:10 and Katie Knowles rounded off the top five for Bristol & West in 14:20. Ellie Wimshurst and Annika Jarman ran three laps on the orders of coach Nick Rose, which left Hannah Alderson to come home a clear winner of the under-20 race in 14:34. There is no team event in the Seniors but with 4 in 6 Bristol & West ladies performed really well.
The Senior Men’s race was the penultimate event of the afternoon and an interesting race it was. With the Gwent League race cancelled last week some of the under-17 men chose to run 4k to get the extra distance under their belt before Liverpool. However, it was the under-20s who stole the show. After an early group of around 8 had stretched the pace on the first lap, Tom Curr and Josh Gorecki two of the country’s leading under-20 talents moved away with only Steve Mitchell for company: on the third leg even he was dropped as Tom and Josh battled for the victory. All three front runners have a bit of track speed but it was Tom Curr who gained a morale boosting victory in 12:10 as he pulled clear on the run in. Behind him Josh Gorecki (12:18) held off Steve Mitchell who finished fast in 12:19 but couldn’t quite close the gap. Steve, who has a chequered past in this event, was pleased with his run. Next home for Bristol and West were Dan Woolford in ninth and new signing Michael Johnson in tenth. Tom Purnell took under-17 bragging rights in the Senior race in eleventh place.
Results of the mob match will be posted as soon as they are available. Photos of races and presentations are available courtesy of Phil Parry, who was also commentating and marshalling at the same time – maybe racing is the easier option Phil – at http://www.flickr.com/photos/philipparry.