Graham Finlayson and his team should be congratulated on staging the Cardiff McCain Cross Challenge in difficult circumstances when snow adversely affected most of the UK Sport Programme on Sunday 20th January 2013. Few Bristol & West runners were entered this year but the club did provide three of the South-West Regional Senior wo0men’s team with Annabel Gummow making a welcome return to racing, Jenny Jagger and newcomer Helen Sharpe completing the trio. In the Senior Men’s race Phil Wylie and Owain Jones were in the South-West team.
The temperature in Cardiff was hovering around freezing but was just warm enough for the snow on the course to melt as the races progressed so that as early as the women’s race (the fifth race on the programme) the course was getting muddy. The England trio of Louise Damen, Emily Wicks and Hatti Archer were soon to the fore as determined front running by Louise quickly turned the race into a procession as she ran home a clear winner in 25.21 for the 6.99 kilometre course. Behind her Emily Wicks (26.27) eventually got the better of Hatti Archer (226.39) but both were over one minute behind Louise. After a steady start Annabel Gummow worked steadily through the field to finish ninth in 27.37: Annabel was valiantly chasing seventh and eighth but the gap was just too big to close. Behind her Helen Sharpe showed what an asset she will be for the club. Having missed her initial train a journey via Bristol Parkway saw her arrive at Cardiff Station just 35 minutes before the start. South-West Team Manager Keith Brackstone navigated her to the course as they ran the 2 miles as her warm up and a change of vest a few quick strides and she was off. Fourteenth in 28.21 was a good result and behind her in eighteenth place was Jenny Jagger – clearly not enjoying the conditions but battling on to finish in 29.00. Also running but not at her best with a chest infection was Viv McConnell who finished thirty-fourth of the 53 finishers in 32.03.
The run of the day from a Bristol & West athlete was Phil Wylie’s. Starting way outside the top ten on the first lap Phil worked his way through the field as the 10.37 kilometre course took its toll of some fast starters in the last lap. Phil finished fifth in 35.12 behind the quartet representing England. The race was won by Andy Vernon in 34.02 and Andy led throughout the second half of the race. Behind him Frank Tickner powered through the field after losing 200 metres on the first lap when his shoe was pulled off in an incident that left him with spike cuts. He ran a really strong race to peg Andy Vernon back to 7 seconds as he finished in 34.09. Shaun Dixon of Highgate completed the first three in a time of 34.32 after a race long battle with John Gilbert. Owain Jones ran his usual steady start and as always looked strong throughout but couldn’t pull up too far in a quality field as he finished full of running in 36.34.
Full race results can be found at: http://cardiffxchallenge.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/mccain-cardiff-cross-challenge-results-2013.xls