PARLIAMENT Hill Fields in London hosted the Saucony English National Cross Country Championships on Saturday when athletes were faced with the toughest conditions of the season.
Slogging through muddy bog-like conditions – shin deep in sections – on a cold and damp day, the mud was a test itself but the Bromsgrove & Redditch Athletic Club runners were also up against aspiring Great Britain athletes and competition from all corners of England.
B&R’s first athletes to take on the 400m uphill start on challenging, sticky mud were the under 15 boys. Gareth Richardson led the charge, finishing 215th in 18.58. Alexander Johnson (346th, 21:24) also completed the 4.5km course.
Anna Nicod was next to take on Parliament Hill in the under 13 girls’ championship and she completed the 3km course in 15.04 and finished 184th out of 433 athletes.
Following Nicod’s fantastic efforts it was the under 17 men’s turn. They had the pleasure of running one short lap and one full lap covering 6km.
Conor Smith again showed his strength on a testing course by finishing 59th in 22.38, followed by Thomas Neylon (255th, 27.31).
With the races coming think and fast, the course was deteriorating, making running conditions worst as the day went on.
However, this was no problem for the under 15 girls as they continued their fantastic season when taking on the 4km course.
Ellen Bowen led the girls home in an impressive 45th position (16:48) – the highest position achieved on the day by any Bromsgrove & Redditch athlete.
Amy Mijovic-Couldwell was next home (83rd, 17.21), followed by Alice Battey (121st, 17.54). Megan Nicod completed a scoring team (176th, 18.26) as the girls finished 13th out of 40th complete teams – B&R’s best team position of the championships.
The ever-present Tamara Ball was the only athlete to take part in the senior women’s championship (8km) and she finished 193rd in 38.12 out of 865 athletes.
The last event of the day was the senior men’s championship which saw 2005 athletes take on two full laps (12km).
Described in the Telegraph as a scene from ‘Ben-Hur’ once the gun went and 2005 athletes charged up the hill, Joe Smith led this charge for Bromsgrove & Redditch and came 141st in 44.20.
Simon Lanckham was second back for the team (393rd, 48.05) and the scoring six was completed by Kevin Lanckham (739th, 51.58), Andrew Freeman (969th, 54.18), Dean Hartshorne (1124th, 56.06) and Paul Battey (1438th, 1:00.02) as the team finished 79th out of 149 completed teams.
A special mention should go to Freeman, who completed the course after receiving a nasty gash along his ankle after a following athlete caught him with his spikes.
For many athletes this was the last race of the cross country season, but several athletes have been selected to run for Worcestershire at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships at Cofton Park in Birmingham on Sunday, March 7 – an event covered by Sky television.
Words courtesy of James Bowler and pictures by David Ball. (s)
Tamara Ball (red). (s)
Joe Smith (6418). (s)
Ellen Bowen. (s)