South-West Cross-Country – A Club Triumph at Senior Level

Bristol and West runners Dan Studley and Lucy MacAlister took the two major titles at the South West cross-country championships held over a challenging course in the spectacular grounds of Killerton House in Devon on Sunday 5th January 2014. Not only did both of them score runaway victories, but they also spearheaded a formidable show of strength by the Bristol and West men’s and women’s teams. They actually made a clean sweep of the medals in the men’s race, with Andy Chambers and Tom Merson filling the silver and bronze positions behind Studley, and they were hardly less dominant in the women’s event, where only Devon’s best Jo Meek prevented a similar outcome behind MacAlister, with Annabel Granger taking the bronze just ahead of the club’s new Avon Champion Jessie Sanzo.

For his part Dan, who is better known for his exploits on the track, was not even the pre-race favourite for a race over a gruelling hilly course that lashed by wind and rain was more suited to mud larks. That distinction fell to the club’s tough as teak cross-country specialist Tom Merson, but the defending champion had been nursing a cold all week and looked a pale shadow of his normally ebullient self. Characteristically he still gave it a go and was in a group of four, including Dan, Andy and Cornish junior star Dan Nash that broke away at the end of the first small lap. After tackling the first of several testing climbs that made full use of the natural contours of the estate, Dan Studley picked a rare flat section to forge ahead chased by Andy Chambers, whose running was another revelation of the race. With his confidence sky high after his recent sub 30 minute 10k, Dan relentlessly extended his lead on the last of the three laps to win by nearly 300m.

“It was real old fashioned cross-country, but I wanted to prove I could handle such conditions and was really pleased with the way it went.” said the jubilant 22 year old new champion. It was ideal preparation for next month’s British Students championship in Stirling, which is my next target”.

Behind Dan, Andy Chambers finished a clear runner-up ahead of young Nash, the new U20 champion, with the ashen-faced Tom Merson, who said he had nothing in the tank, also surrendering fourth place on the run-in to another junior Joel Walton from Taunton.

With their first three counters home, it was left to Ben Robinson, who just made the top ten, and Dan Edmund in 20th place to close the Bristol and West team score nearly a hundred points ahead of their nearest rivals Devon champions Bideford. Just to underline their superiority the B team beat all the other South-West clubs to take the bronze medals as well as the accompanying mob match title.

Former international marathon runner Lucy MacAlister, now 35, really turned the clock back to take the women’s title, having twice been in Bristol and West’s National  winning teams as long as ten years ago. Now a mother of two and happily settled back in Somerset, she was still able to outclass the opposition, making light of the energy-sapping conditions to lead virtually all the way and finish some 200 metres clear of Meek. “I have never done the South-West race before, so had no idea of the standard, but it was reassuring to know that I can still be competitive at this level,” claimed the mud-spattered winner.

The fast-finishing Annabel Granger, who is over 40 now, finished only ten seconds down on the Devon champion and just pipped Jessie Sanzo for third. With promising new recruit Grace France making it four in the first six, Bristol and West were again overwhelming winners of the team title ahead of local rivals Westbury Harriers, for whom Emma D’Alton also made the top ten in seventh place.      

Another outcome of our recent success is the influx from our local rivals at our training sessions. Nina, Becky, Fiona, Caitlin and all the others who are coming through if you are reading this article; please let us know if they try a repeat performance of canvassing a change of colours.

RESULTS

South West X-C Championships – Men: 1 Dan Studley (Bristol and West) 30:50; 2 Andy Chambers (B&W) 31:43; 3 Dan Nash (East Cornwall U20) 31:58; 4 Joel Walton (Taunton U20) 32:00; 5 Tom Merson (B&W) 32:09; 6 Pete Le Grice (Mounts Bay) 32:38; 7 Matt Dickenson (Wells U20) 33:09; 8 Mark Jenkin (Bideford) 33:20; 9 Allister Bristow (Erme Valley) 33:24; 10 Ben Robinson (B&W) 33:28; 11 Dan Rodgers (Cornwall) 33:31; 12 Kieran Young (Wells) 33:35; 13 Shaun Antell (Bideford) 33:38; 14 Ronnie Richmond (Bideford) 33:43; 15 Luke Scott (Taunton) 33:56; 16 James Denne (Exeter) 33:58; 17 Callum Jones (Cornwall U20) 33:59; 18 Nick Bennett (North Devon) 34:00; 19 Rob Mann (Salisbury) 34:03; 20 Dan Edmund (B&W) 34:05.

Teams: 1 Bristol and West 38; 2 Bideford 126; 3 B&W B 129; 4 Taunton 191; 5 Wells City 197; 6 B&W C 233; 7 Plymouth 258; 8 Team Bath 293.

Other Avon runners –

Bristol and West: 22 Will Christofi 34:10; 24 Nick Weyman 34:27; 30 Matt Krelle 34:41; 32 Jarlath McKenna 34:45; 33 Iain Stuart 35:04; 35 Miles Chandler U20 35:08; 44 Steve Goss M40 35:36; 49 Scott Watkins 36:24; 50 Ross Grainger 36:28; 57 Will Russell 37:13; 72 Andy Cooke 38:53; 73 Tom Watkins 39:01; 89 Pete Mountain M50 41:31.

Team Bath: 37 Dan Jones 35:24; 41 Steve Rose M40 35:42; 42 Alex Hill U20 35:53; 81 Dave Vaudin M55 39:58; 92 Tom Hutchison M60 41:42.

Westbury: 23 Anthony Glover 34:20; 46 Scott Campbell 36:07.

North Somerset: 26 Nick Saillard 34:29; Stuart Hancock M40 40:30.

Women: 1 Lucy MacAlister (B&W M35) 22:35; 2 Jo Meek (Tavistock M35) 23:15; 3 Annabel Granger (B&W M40) 23:25; 4 Jessie Sanzo (B&W M35) 23:37; 5 Flo Dannah (North Somerset M35) 23:47; 6 Grace France (B&W) 24:08; 7 Emma D’Alton (Westbury M35) 24:24;  8 Lillie Bellamy (Swindon) 24:25; 9 Cathy Newman (Exmouth M50) 24:26; 10 Ellie Sutcliffe (Exmouth) 24:31; 11 Emma Journeaux (WH) 24:44; 12 Catherine Lee (WH) 24:53; 13 Emily Smith (Wells U20) 25:01; 14 Hattie Rogers (Taunton U20) 25:27; 15 Rebecca Pierce (TB) 25:28; 16 Martha Neal (Newton Abbot) 25:36; 17 Lucy Richens (WH M35) 25:45; 18 Anna Sharrock (Enfield) 25:45; 19 Katie Eliot (WH) 25:54; 20 Clare Hodgson (B&W) 26:01.

Teams: 1 Bristol and West 14: 2 Westbury 47; 3 B&W B 124.

Other Avon runners:

Bristol and West 24 Helen Newberry 26:23; 31 Sarah Everitt M45 26:27. Westbury: Tamsin Chick M35 26:27.37 Vicky Tester 27:36.     

In the under-13 boys Alison Hurford fielded six athletes and would like to thank all the parents who braved the weather and turned up at the venue even before she arrived. Special thanks to Paul Marshall who had all the numbers sorted for her on her arrival. This new course did not have ideal conditions to try it out and wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Jasper Eddison, Stan Harding-Hill and Nathan Marchant were very competitive between each other and ran a very sensible race. Dan Marshall, Dylan Quibell and Robert Kiekuth tried hard in a high quality race and unlike several athletes kept going all the way to the finish.

27

Eddison

Jasper

12.54

U13 Boys

Bristol & West AC

33

Harding-Hill

Stan

13.00

U13 Boys

Bristol & West AC

44

Marchant

Nathan

13.27

U13 Boys

Bristol & West AC

62

Marshall

Daniel

15.37

U13 Boys

Bristol & West AC

64

Quibell

Dylan

16.41

U13 Boys

Bristol & West AC

65

Kiekuth

Robert

17.06

U13 Boys

Bristol & West AC

In other age groups Nancy Dineen finished thirteenth in the under-13 girls’ race and new comer Aidan Oscroft finished a very creditable fifteenth in the under-11 boy’s race. Aidan – whose only previous race was in the under-11s race at the Bristol cross-challenge misjudged the finish (expecting a long straight similar to the Ashton Court course) and finished full of running. I am sure he will have learnt from the experience. Eloise Brown was 27th in the under-15 girl’s race in 19.37 and Otis Harding-Hill 44th in the under-15 boy’s race in 19.05.

Full results can be found at:

http://www.sw-athletics-academy.co.uk/sw-championships/

Composite report from Mike Down, Chris Elson and Alison Hurford.