The weekend may have been marked by freezing temperatures and high winds, but it didn’t stop a slew of scorching performances both in cross-country and on the roads.
Secure places for Dublin
Two weeks before the European XC Championships, the British Athletics Cross Challenge The series moved to Sefton Park in Liverpool on Saturday, doubling the practice for the race in Dublin on Sunday 12 December. With races across age groups, alongside the return of a short course race for the relay team, there was no shortage of racing prowess.
Senior and U23 athletes raced in combined races, with the top four senior and top five U23 athletes across the line securing a spot for Dublin.
The women’s race saw Jess Judd, in her second cross country race of the year after competing in the English National Relay Championships at Mansfield, pulling away from a stacked peloton on the second of three laps to cross the line with dominant style in 26:29 on the 8.1 km course, ahead of Jenny Nesbitt (26:46) and Abbie Donnelly (26:51).
Jess Gibbon finished fifth overall but as fourth senior securing him the last automatic place in the Dublin quad.
In front of Jess was Amelia Quirk, fourth overall but the first U23 to complete, making a welcome return to racing after an injury in her first race since the European Indoor Championships eight and a half months ago. Izzy Fry, Eleanor Bolton and Eloise Walker have also reserved their places in the U23 squad.
After a slower start than some and some work in the peloton before taking the lead in the second half of the race, Jack Rowe of Aldershot Farnham & District took first place among the 500-plus men in contention. This follows a comfortable victory in the Hampshire League a fortnight ago and a season that included PBs over several distances on the track and a Great South Run victory last month. He completed the 9.8km course in 28:05 and made sure he had the support down the home stretch.
It was a duo from Central AC who finished second and third thanks to Andy Butchart and Jamie Crowe, the latter of whom will make his UK debut in Dublin. They will be joined by Will who was the fourth senior to finish.
Tom Mortimer was the fastest in the U23s, followed by Rory Leonard, Matthew Stonier and Zakariya Mahamed.
Henry McLuckie and Megan Keith took the victories in the U20 races, while the opening races of the day saw the mixed relay team decide through two short course trials, where Alex Bell, Hannah Nuttall, Luke Duffy and Ben West got their place in the team. .
Towards the roads
I don’t envy anyone hitting the road any distance this weekend, but that hasn’t stopped people from putting in some great performances in the many races that have taken place.
The Wilmslow 10k may have provided the fastest run on the roads this weekend, with Matt Clowes (28:57) taking the upper hand over Paulos Surafel (29:14) and Nigel Martin (30:07). It’s a big record for Clowes and almost a minute faster than his previous best of the year, raced at Wrexham in July. Surafel was also rewarded with two seconds of best time ever as their excellent season continues.
There was a nearly two-minute margin of victory for Sophie Wood (33:40) who improved her best by more than a minute. Elizabeth Renondeau (35:27) and Joanna Marsden (35:48) both finished with performances under 36 minutes.
On a plate of pancakes, Lisa Bailey (37:43) and James Bartram (33:40) took advantage of the Ranelagh Harriers Richmond 10k, the latter is only three seconds ahead of the second, Robert Eveson.
Moving considerably farther north towards the Doncaster 10k, where Charlotte Ward (34:48) ran the distance for the first time in two years and was rewarded with a significant PB and race victory, ahead of Georgina Weston (35:16) and Amy Hammersley (35:59 ). A hotly contested men’s race saw Jordan Skelly (31:15) take over Matthew Nelson (31:28) and Lee Milburn (31:38).
Then to Derby, which hosted races over half-marathon and five-mile distances. The Derby half marathon saw a superb run from Patrick Roddy of Thames Hare & Hounds, of which 67:30 took almost three minutes off her 2019 record. Gabriella Moriarty (81:57) took a similar time to fastest woman .
The five mile race went to Emma Taylor (29:45) and Andy Elks (29:10).
Over five miles
There was good performance at Wolverton 5 in Milton Keynes. A three-way battle between Lewis Jagger, Ben Alcock and Matt Bergin saw Lewis with strong yards of fence to complete the five-mile distance in 24:05, two seconds ahead of Ben and twelve ahead of Matt. Elle Roche emerged victorious in the women’s race after running in a group with Hayley Munn and Alice Ritchie. She finished in 28:46 to place tenth in the UK Ranking of the Year.
The West Coast Half Marathon, taking the runners from Preston to Lytham St Anne’s allowed James Blake (76:05) and Kath Marginson (92:48) to win races in what I imagine to be less than ideal conditions. Finally, a visit to Wiltshire Half Marathon where Hannah Alderson (78:55) and Tom Gurney (72:08) took top honors.
Located in the streets of the city a few miles from Oxford, the Eynsham 10k provided Alex Miell-Ingram (31:28) and Cordella Parker (36:55) with race wins.
The fastest Britons in Florence Marathon were Rachel Davies (2:55:33) and James Thompson (2:33:17), both setting new lifetime records.
Rounding out the weekend’s road races, Harry Bond (35:53) and Jenny Dalkins (41:14) won the Cheddleton 10k, Joseph Moores (31:49) and Alice Bernstein (41:35) at Wesham Winter 10k, Jo Andrews (38:34) and Reuben Andrews (33:01) at Adnams Southwold 10k, and Caitlin Peers (40:30) and Will Brewin (33:38) at 10k bomb.
Cross-country skiing continues
Eyes might have been in sight in Liverpool, but it wasn’t the only cross-country competition of the weekend, but the majority of results have yet to reach Power of 10.
Bexley hosted the Kents League where Tonbridge’s Stephen Strange crossed the finish line first in the senior men’s race. The senior women weren’t in action, with the genders alternating in competitions (and competed in the last match two weeks ago).
Meanwhile, the same name Kent Fitness League took place in Eltham and saw Charles George of Paddock Wood AC and Hariette Woolley of Medway cross the line first.
Other league matches scheduled for this weekend, but for which I have yet to find results, include the East Sussex League in Wadhurst, Winter League of Borders at Spittal Beach, the North Essex and South Suffolk League in Halstead and Belfast Malcolm Cup.
Unfortunately bad weather saw the North Wales Senior League to Flint canceled.