Bristol & West played a major part in ‘runbristol’s’ bid to get the first McCain Cross-Challenge Race of the 2011/2012 winter in Bristol. The course in Ashton Court lived up to expectations. The weather played its part magnificently and club committee members and volunteers helped to ensure that everything progressed smoothly on the day. Not only did we bring in the McCain Challenge but we also managed to keep the long-running Mike Sully and Gemma Butler races alive and we were also able to continue the primary schools Inter-Area match started by Nick Rose a couple of seasons ago.
It was a shame that there was a clash of dates with the Gwent League at Bath University but individuals rightly chose to compete at the fixture that best suited their ability level (there was no pressure on anyone to race at either location) and the club was well represented at both.
The Club star of the show at the McCain Cross-Challenge was Annabel Gummow whose fine win in the under-20 women’s race – she came home in 17.43 1 minute 24 seconds clear of runner-up Hanna Tarver – was the largest winning margin of the day and must bode well for the Euro-Cross trials in Liverpool in two weeks time.
The first club athlete to race was Hugh Sadler who was eighth in the under-13 boys in 10.51 in a race won by Hugo Milner of Derby in 9.31. In the equivalent girls race newcomer Eloise Browne raced for the club for the first time – finishing fourteenth in 13.20.
There were no club representatives in the under-15 age group and in the under-17 ladies Miranda Sadler finished tenth in 20.44. In the under-17 Men’s race Luke Jacobs produced an excellent run for fourth place in 22.13 in a race won by Jon Davies of Reading in 21.31. Kieran Young finished twenty-third in 25.36.
In the under-20 men’s race Kieran Clements of Ipswich was a clear winner: behind him three club athletes competed with Dan Studley seventh in 23.31, Adam Speake eighteenth in 26.24 and Sam Bedwell twenty-fourth in 30.13.
The penultimate race saw the largest entry of club runners in a very classy senior women’s race. The in-form Gemma Steele of Charnwood AC literally ran away from the field to win in 25.26. Steph Barnes was racing in international company to finish sixth in 27.07. Kate Goodhead was eleventh in 28.03 with Annabel Granger sixteenth in 28.35. Paula Gowing finished twenty-third in 30.28 and Ursula Counsel made a welcome return to racing in twenty-sixth place in 31.58.
The final race of the afternoon saw a great race to the three-quarters distance before Frank Tickner from Wells City kicked on to secure the win by 12 seconds in 29.56 followed by Phil Wicks and Dewi Griffiths. Steve Mitchell made his usual committed start before the cross-country specialists pulled away but finished in a creditable ninth position in 31.39. Charlie Maclean stepped up an age group and found the going tough but showed strength and determination to finish fifteenth in 32.28 with Andrew Woods making a venture way over distance for an endurance work-out finishing twenty-fourth in 34.54.
All-in-all some good performances in races where the lack of numbers was more than off-set by the quality of those who did race.
As a late addition to this winter’s calendar it was always going to be difficult to secure large fields but this well organised event seemed to go down well with those who made the effort to enter and UK Athletics have already expressed their intention to include a Bristol McCain Cross-Challenge in the 2012/2013 winter programme.
Our thanks go to all the volunteers from the club who helped to make this first running of the event such a success.