The rain made mercifully infrequent visits but competitors had to cope with high winds and increasingly muddy conditions at the penultimate UK Cross Challenge meeting of this winter in Cardiff’s Blackweir Park on Sunday 21 January. Here are some of the highlights…
Senior Men’s 9km: Ben Noad (Highgate Harriers) repeated his victory of last year as he aims to resurrect his Norwich Union GB career via the World Trials for seniors, which are this year being incorporated into the BUSA Cross Country Championships at the University of Bath on Saturday 3 February. Noad made a decisive effort halfway round the final lap and won in 32 minutes 23 seconds, followed by: 2 Alan Buckley (Gateshead Harriers) 32:29; 3 Kevin Haywood (Bristol and West) 32:31; 4 Tom Payn (Birchfield Harriers) 32:34; 5 Jermaine Mays (Kent AC) 32:59; 6 Ben Tickner (Birmingham University) 33:05.
Senior Women’s 6km: Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield) demonstrated she is on the way to rediscovering the form that earned her last year’s UK Cross Challenge title and international honours. Despite the heavy going, she led a Yorkshire-based 1-2, clocking 23:40 ahead of Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers). Michelle Ross-Cope (City of Stoke) was third in 24:17, Claire Martin (Telford) fourth in 24:22 and junior Sian Edwards (Kettering Town Harriers) fifth in 24:38 after holding third place until the closing stages.
Under 20 Men’s 7km: Lee Carey (Nuneaton Harriers) extended his lead in the UK Cross Challenge series by moving away over the last third of the race and winning in 26:26, finishing 17 seconds clear of his nearest rival overall, Ieuan Thomas (Cwmbran Harriers), who is making an excellent impact in his first year in the age group. Third in 27:02 was Greg Billington (Belgrave Harriers), who has dual GB and USA citizenship and will be running in the World Trial at the UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships at Nottingham on 24 February.
Under 20 Women’s 5km: Fresh from finishing second for Norwich Union GB at the Lisbon Junior International seven days ago, Emma Pallant (Aldershot, Farnham and District) moved clear in the second half of the race and won in 18:38, 5 seconds clear of Stephanie Barnes (Bristol and West). Stevie Stockton (Vale Royal AC), representing North of England in the Inter-Area element of the race, produced a storming finish to take third place in 18:51 with series leader Olivia Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield) fourth in 19:03, Kirsty Hamilton (Bristol and West) fifth in 19:09 and Jo Harvey (Exeter Harriers) sixth in 19:20 as she bids to reclaim her international form after an injury lay-off.
Under 17 Men’s 6km: Matt Withey, the Stroud AC starlet running for Gloucestershire Schools in the Inter-Counties competition that is always part of this meeting, took the domestic honours by finishing second to Craig Murphy, one of a large contingent of athletes from Ireland.
Under 17 Women’s 4km: Laura Alexander-High (Aldershot, Farnham and District) scored her first Challenge victory, 11 seconds clear of a good quality field despite the absences of Challenge leader Heather Timmins (Warrington) and the winner of last week’s Lisbon Junior International, Charlotte Purdue.
Under 15 Boys’ 4km: John Bird (Ipswich) won to extend his lead at the top of the Challenge standings.
Under 15 Girls’ 3km: Last winter’s Under 13 Champion Melissa Hawtin (Oxford City) scored a thrilling win over the run-away series leader Sarah Barker (Sale Harriers Manchester).
Under 13 Boys’ 3km: Mark Shaw (New Marske Harriers) made his long journey worthwhile by winning by 12 seconds and setting up the prospect of a thrilling final at Nottingham.
Under 13 Girls’ 3km: Emma Gilmore (City of Southampton) won a closely contested race.
Full results can be downloaded below: