MIKE DOWN’S NATIONAL CROSS COUNTDOWN NO 4

Following our encouraging performance in the Midland championships when we finished an unexpectedly close third behind Notts and Birchfield with a far from full strength team, our prospects for the National, which is less than three weeks away now, were given a further boost last weekend when WILL CHRISTOFI and JACK MILLAR both finally put their recent injury troubles behind them to produce their best performances so far this winter for Oxford University at the prestigious British Student championships, which were held over a familiar course at Bicton Park in Devon.

While the three medallists soon opened up a winning gap on the rest of the field, Will as ever judged his effort near perfectly to work his way through the chasing pack and pass all bar the leading trio and finish a best ever 4th in the race, with Jack not that far behind him and also in the top ten in 8th place. Both of them are rounding into the sort of form that they displayed so brilliantly at Parliament Hill last year.

Nor were Will and Jack’s efforts in Devon the only personal bests achieved at the weekend by their prospective colleagues at Leeds, for both PETE LE GRICE and ANDY CHAMBERS ran faster than ever before in road races at Chichester and Exmouth respectively. Pete chipped another five seconds off his previous best 10K time in what turned out to be a thrilling finish to the popular Chichester 10K. In the end he was just seven seconds behind the winner Will Mycroft, but back in 5th place in 29:39. Meanwhile Andy slashed more than a minute off his previous best 5 mile time in the Exmouth Express ‘5’, clocking 25:14 on a far from flat course behind former clubmate TOM MERSON, who set a new record of 24:30.

Closer home our Bristol based group, including HARRY ALLEN, OWAIN JONES, JOSH MOODY, KURT TAYLOR and ADAM WILSON, achieved a landmark of a different kind, giving credence to the age old adage that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Determined not to let the elements scupper their proposed track session, they spent an hour clearing the snow from the inside lane of the Whitehall track before hitting the target times set for them in a gruelling session in preparation for next week’s Armagh international 5K, where Harry, Josh and Kurt will be joined by Jack and Andy in a combined assault on their personal bests for the distance.

Clearly the spirit in the camp has never been higher. Everyone going to Armagh has only one aim – to run faster than ever before. Repeat that effort in Leeds nine days later and who knows what the outcome could be!

MIKE DOWN

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