Report from McCain Cross at Liverpool – 27 November 2010

The McCain Challenge in Sephton Park, Liverpool on Saturday 27th November 2010 again played host to the trials to select the teams for the European Cross-Country to be held in Portugal on Sunday 12th December 2010. So several of the club’s best young cross-country runners were there to see how they fared against their peers from across the country. However, before the selection races got under way there were several races at under 17 and below.

The first race of the day saw the latest running phenomenon from the Sadler household – young Hugh finish fifth in the Under-11 boy’s race. Hugh’s time was 6:56 in a race won by Ryan Gray of Inverclyde in 6:24.  The next two races featuring Bristol runners also had a Sadler family interest as first Miranda and then Olivia competed.

In the under-15 girls race Miranda Sadler finished tenth in 10:54 in a race won by Harriet Preedy, the first of many Aldershot, Farnham & District winners in the afternoon. Harriet’s time was 10:23; close behind was Abbie Hetherington in 10:25 and third was Bronwen Owen of Scarborough in 10:26. Close finishes were to prove the order of the day (as was wins by Aldershot, Farnham & District athletes). Other Bristol interest in the race was Annasley Park who finished nineteenth in 11:11.

In the under-15 boys race the sole Bristol & West competitor was Oscar Holdsworth who finished thirty-fifth in 10:14. Again a close finish saw Adam Howard of Oldham & Royton win in 9:05 just two seconds clear of Matthew Stirling of St Helens with Kyran Roberts of Carmarthen third in 9:23.

The under-17 girls raced in the same race as the under-20 women and Olivia Sadler sensibly made a steady start on her way to finishing sixth in 15:55. Early leader Jessica Judd took the whole race on in the early stages leading the likes of Charlotte Purdue and Emelia Gorecka but eventually paid the price being pipped by Alice Wright of Worcester who beat her into second place. Both girls timed at 15:16. Third was Beth Swords of Marshall Milton Keynes in 15:39, which meant that Olivia was just 16 seconds off a medal.

The under-17 boy’s race saw another Aldershot winner as Harvey Dixon won at a canter in 16:54 14 seconds clear of Grant Muir from Giffnock North. In third place was Bradley Goater of Windsor, Slough and Eton in 17:12. Behind in twenty-sixth place was Zak Tobias who worked hard throughout and just held off Aaron Phelps of Stroud. Rhys Park featured in the top 20 on the first lap but a mid-week cold got the better of him and he wisely decided not to finish.

The under-20 women’s race saw Annabel Gummow start just outside the top 10 and work her way through the strong field to finish a very creditable sixth place in 14:52. Hannah Alderson also made a solid start and chased hard to the line but never quite break into the top 10 as she finished fourteenth in 15:27. Behind her there was another promising run from Annika Jarman who was twenty-second in 15:52. The race was won by Charlotte Purdue in 14:12 who was 17 seconds clear of club-mate Emelia Gorecka who was runner up in 14:29. Kate Avery completed the podium places in third with a time of 14:36. Behind Aldershot showed their strength in depth in this age group as Lily Partridge and Georgia Peel finished fourth and fifth.

The under-20 men’s race was another great race to watch as a large group of around twelve set out at a cracking pace. With around one kilometre to run Jonny Hay of Aldershot kicked hard and it looked all over but John McDonnell of Luton had other ideas catching the Aldershot man and holding on for a fine win in 20:10. Jonny Hay had to settle for second in 20:13 and behind him Ben Connor of Derby was third in 20:15. Bristol & West interest was centred on Hobie Martin who was racing up an age group for experience and he will have no illusions next year as eight runners finished in three seconds around Hobie’s fortieth place. Hobie’s time was 21:30 as he placed one behind former club member Rob Gault (now with Stroud).

The Senior Women’s Race included the Women’s under-23 race so for Imogen Ainsworth and Katie Knowles in was as much about chasing athletes with under-23 on their backs as racing everyone in the field. As ever this was our strongest event of the day with Kate Goodhead and Rebekah Randell in the senior race as well as the two under-23s. Kate was soon to show as the club’s front runner and was never out of the top 20. Behind her Imogen, Rebekah and Katie started a little more conservatively but were also in the top 30 after the first 400 metre charge down the slight slope. As the race wore on Kate consolidated her top-20 position as behind the other three consolidated their positions in the top 30. Imogen Ainsworth was having the run of her career to date as she was seventh under-23 and chasing hard. With Stevie Stockton of Vale Royal dropping out Imo was up to sixth under-23 and twentieth in the race with Lauren Howarth of Leigh and Birmingham University some 80 metres clear with a mile to run. Imo closed to striking distance before passing Lauren with around 400 metres to go for fifth under-23 and nineteenth in the race in 28:10. Just in front in seventeenth place Kate Goodhead lead the Bristol quartet home in 28:05. Rebekah Randell ran solidly to the line to finish twenty-fifth in 28:42 just in front of Katie Knowles who was twenty-seventh and eighth under-23 in 28:49. With six places up for grabs for the GB Team for the Euro-cross Imo now has an agonizing wait to see if she has done enough. With 4 in 27 Senior Women’s Team Manager, Keith Brackstone, is looking forward to the National cross-country at Alton Towers in February. However, scoring four here our team’s total was 88 and old enemy Charnwood scored 71. The 1,2,3s were Senior Race Louise Damen (26:32), Hatti Dean (26:46) and Gemma Steel (27:00). The under-23 1, 2, 3 was Emma Pallant (27:04), Emily Pigeon (27:35) and Elspeth Curran (27:43).

The final race of the day was the Senior Men’s Race incorporating the under-23 men again the quality field and the fast going under foot made for a great spectacle and there was another close finish. A lead group of several athletes eventually whittle down to three with Andy Vernon prevailing by a single second in a sprint finish. Andy’s time was 28:45 with runner-up and under-23 winner James Wilkinson running 28:46. The full 1, 2, 3s were: Senior Men Andy Vernon (28:45), Mark Draper (28:48) and Tom Humphries (28:55).   In the under-23s the result was: first James Wilkinson (28:46), second Ricky Stevenson (29:11) and third Mitch Goose (29:17). It was good to see Robbie Bugden returning to this level of competition on the country and his forty-seventh in 30:47 shows that he is regaining his fitness and we look forward to his post-Christmas performances with anticipation.

So the club now waits to see whether Annabel and Imogen will get selected for the GB Team following an afternoon where several of the club’s young athletes performed really well.

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