Bristol and West AC celebrated their nomination as England Athletics “Development Club of the Year” by getting their cross-country season off to a winning start in the opening race of the Gwent League at Pontypool.
Charlie Maclean and Kate Goodhead led the way as they headed off the challenge of 94 teams in the men’s race and 65 in the women’s.
The races were staged at Pontypool Park to commemorate the first ever race in the league held there 50 years ago.
It was a fitting memorial for the real mud larks, as the gruelling hilly course that almost defied belief was made even more testing by a torrential storm that engulfed the women’s race and made the event more like a fell race.
That however was no problem for Goodhead, who is a mountain running international, and proved she is nearing full fitness again by finishing a close third in the remarkably big field for a women’s race of nearly 250 runners.
With promising newcomer Anna Burton a revelation in 5th place and experienced Army champion Sophie Lovell a close 7th, the Bristol and West team had a head start on their welsh and South West rivals, and their victory was duly completed by Charlotte Green in 11th place and Nikki Brookland 18th.
Maclean for his part was actually headed by his training partner Johnny Thewlis, but the Notts international was only competing as a guest, so the former English Schools steeplechase champion was declared the league winner.
Behind him former Welsh Champion Owain Jones, who is still nursing achilles tendonitis, made a sensibly cautious start, but was travelling as fast as the leaders in the latter stages of the race as he powered his way through the front of the field to steal third place on the final run-in
With the first two places in the bag, it was left to recent signings Will Russell 20th, Nick Weyman 27th and Jarlath McKenna 36th in the huge 400 strong field to ensure the Bristol club’s double success.
“We could have hardly made a more convincing start to the season,” said team manager Chris Elson, “What’s more I was really pleased that our B teams finished 5th and 6th respectively to underline our growing strength in depth”.
MEN: 2 C Maclean; 3 O Jones; 20 W Russell; 27 N Weyman; 36 J McKenna; 37 A Woods; 48 A Malloy; 50 R Grainger; 72 P Gandon; 73 W Smith;101 C Pantlin; 102 J Smith; 138 T Daniels; 155 D Noad; 165 C Traer; 174 N Light; 206 Y Berdeni; 207; R Lowe; 208 D Bedwell. 254 S Price; 366 H Kiekuth.
Teams; 1 Bristol and West 1896; 2 Swansea 1886; 3 Les Croupiers (Cardiff) 1863; 6 B&W B 1710.
WOMEN: 3 K Goodhead; 5 A Burton; 7 S Lovell; 11 C Green; 18 N Brookland; 25 E Harrison; 31 H Newberry; 37 S Everitt; 39 M Berryman; 44 C Jolliffe; 65 A Davies; 83 T Allan; 85 H Bennett; 97 B Colquhoun; 101 H Anstey; 109 C Sapwell; 135 A Hurford; 143 E Jolliffe; 147 R Mushens 179 M Lakin.
Teams; 1 Bristol and West 1121; 2 Cardiff University 1062; 3 Westbury 1058; 5 B&W B 995.
Full results can be found at:
Mike Down Reports