26 Nov

Several club athletes made the long journey to Liverpool to race in Sefton Park in the Liverpool McCain Challenge on Saturday 26th November 2011 – some to test themselves against the current best in the country just to see where they stand and others with serious intentions of making the Great Britain & Northern Ireland Team for the European Cross-Country Championships in a fortnight’s time. With no World Cross-Country Championships this year the european race was bound to assume a greater prominence and, if the quality of the fields throughout the day was anything to go by, anyone who wasn’t ill or injured was there to throw their hat into the ring.

A keen wind made the races tougher than the underfoot conditions which were the driest I have seen in 5 visits to the venue in recent years. The firmer footing and lack of any stiff climbs meant that all the races were run at a ferocious pace and there were some really excellent races.

Club athlete of the day must surely be Annabel Gummow who made the long trip up from Cornwall to secure third place in the combined under-17 and under-20 Women’s race in 15:15 behind Amelia Gorecka (Aldershot, Farnham & District (under-20) – 14:54) and Jessica Judd (Chelmsford (under-17) – 15:10). Annabel has secured her place in the Great Britain team for the European Championships for the third year in a row. In the same race Olivia Sadler finished eighteenth in 16:10 but only 12 seconds off a top ten finish in a field of 58 runners.

First club athlete of the day to race was Hugh Sadler who finished twenty-fifth (out of 108 finishers) in the under-13 boys’ race in his first year in that age group. In the under-17 Women’s race Annasley Park finished fifteenth of the sixty-eight finishers with a 16:46 clocking ahead of Miranda Sadler who finished twenty-ninth in 17:32.

Luke Jacobs was the club’s sole representative in the under-17 men’s race where 18:37 was good enough to finish twenty-second out of 117 finishers. This was another solid run from Luke in a very competitive field as he was 30 seconds off a top-8 finish.

In the under-20 Men’s race Dan Studley (thirty-fourth in 21:55) and Rhys Park (thirty-seventh in 22.01) had a race long battle in a classic race where Aldershot, Farnham & District’s Johnnie Hay (20:23) got the better of Richard Goodman of Shaftesbury Barnett in the uphill finishing straight.

Another race that was won in the finishing straight was the Senior Women’s Race where Hatti Dean (Hallamshire – 27:05) prevailed over Gemma Steel (Charnwood – 27:09). Here Kate Goodhead (thirty-third in 29:28) gained club bragging rights over Steph Barnes (thirty-fifth in 29:34) – this was a classy field but both will have been disappointed that form in races early in the Autumn would have suggested that a top-20 finish could have been possible on a good day.

The final event of the day saw Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham & District – 29:19) prevail with another finishing straight burst to secure the victory over Mark Draper (Bedford – 29:22) with Ryan MacLeod (Tipton – 29:24) securing bronze from Andy Baddeley and James Walsh (fourth and fifth in 29:26) and Frank Tickner sixth in 29:29 in what was a fantastic race with the lead changing hands several times.

Club runners in this race were Dave Bishop with a strong run for nineteenth in 30:05, Steve Mitchell who secured his highest finish in this event with thirty-eighth in 30:56 and Charlie Maclean who showed his potential with thirty-ninth in 30:59 – just three seconds behind Steve. Charlie’s run saw him finish eighth in the under-23 category – a great result in his first year in the age group -surely he has the potential to make the under-23 team next year.

As ever a mixed bag of results with some highs and lows but some great running from club athletes – with everyone giving 100% on a day when the wind made the races tough and the quality meant that the pace was unrelenting throughout.

Full race results can be seen at:

Keith Brackstone Reports.