While most of the World Championships-bound seniors in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team trained in the warmth of South Africa, Frank Tickner cut through the icy winds at Sunderland’s new Herrington Country Park on Saturday 10 March to emphatically complete a domestic cleansweep at the Saucony English National Cross Country Championships.
The Birmingham University student – who is staying home to take the final exams of his English and French course while the team acclimatises for the Worlds in the steamy Kenyan city of Mombasa – won the Senior Men’s 12km by a convincing margin of 40 seconds.
It added to his victories in the European Trial during the Liverpool leg of the UK Cross Challenge, the World Trial during the BUSA Championships and the UK Inter-Counties Championships, which incorporated the UK Challenge Finals. It is the first time one man has been so dominant since 1995, when Spencer Duval (Cannock and Stafford AC) carried all before him – and then went on to steeplechase for Britain at the following year’s Olympic Games in Atlanta.
The National leaders were: 1 Frank Tickner (Wells City Harriers) 37:31; 2 Huw Lobb (Bedford and County) 48:11; 3 Gareth Raven (Sale Harriers Manchester) 38:14; 4 Dominic Bannister (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) 38:28; 5 Gary Thornton (Kent AC) 38:38; 6 Ian Hudspith (Morpeth) 38:40; 7 Jermaine Mays (Kent) 38:42; 8 Kevin Heywood (Bristol and West) 38:43; 9 Darren Deed (Bedford and County) 38:47; 10 Ollie Freeman (Bodyworks Tri Club) 38:51. Teams: 1 Leeds City 162; 2 Bedford and County 226; 3 Sale Harriers Manchester 287; 4 Notts AC 290; 5 Morpeth Harriers 403; 6 Shaftesbury Barnet 409.
The Senior Women’s 9.2km resulted in Liz Yelling breaking into her marathon training to run away with her third National title to go with her triumphs in 2001 and 2002.
She finished well clear of her sister-in-law Hayley Yelling, whose own pursuit of a third National gold medal has taken second place to the heavy training she has put in (and precautionary injections she has had) before she flies out to Durban on Monday to acclimatise for the tough task ahead in Mombasa.
Leading results: 1 Liz Yelling (Bedford and County) 28:56; 2 Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow) 29:35; 3 Louise Damen (Winchester) 29:40; 4 Jo Wilkinson (Bedford and County) 29:48; 5 Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook) 40:18; 6 Wendy Jones (Cirencester) 40:33; 7 Lucy Elliott (Winchester) 40:35; 8 Victoria Webster (Shaftesbury Barnet) 40:36; 9 Gemma Phillips (Kendal) 40:39; 10 Claire Martin (Telford) 40:44. Team: 1 Winchester 41; 2 Telford 123; 3 Bingley 145; 4 Shaftesbury Barnet 165; 5 Leeds City 186; 6 Highgate Harriers 252.
When Hayley Yelling flies to South Africa on Monday, she will join a squad that is “training OK,” reports Alan Storey, the former Sunderland Harrier and current UK Athletics Senior Performance Manager for Endurance who will be leader of the Norwich Union GB team in Mombasa.
European cross country champion Mo Farah, whose European Indoors medal hopes crashed when he was tripped in his 3000m heat last weekend, landed after his 11-hour flight to Durban with a viral infection and spent two days in bed but is now well again.
World Trials winner Kate Reed raced last night in an 8km paarlauf in the dark and in rain. “But the rain was hot,” the laconic Storey reported. “And Kate’s team won.”
Meanwhile, back in Sunderland, all of the Junior Men’s medals went to athletes who figured in Norwich Union GB teams at last year’s World or European Cross Country Championships while 15-year-old Charlotte Purdue impressively added the National Under 17 gold medal to the UK Inter-Counties Under 20 title before she heads for Mombasa.
Leaders in the age groups:
Under 20 men (10km): 1 Kevin Deighton (Bridlington RR) 32:12; 2 Tom Russell (Stroud) 32:14; 3 Nick Swinburne (Morpeth) 32:30. Team: Liverpool Harriers 37.
Under 17 men (6.2km): 1 David Forrester (St Helens-Sutton AC) 20:38; 2 Greg Divall (Sutton Coldfield) 20:47; 3 Jonathan Brownlee (Bradford GS) 20:52. Team: Aldershot Farnham and District 125.
Under 15 boys (4.25km): 1 Nathan Young (Mendip) 15:01; 2 Seb Harding (Tonbridge) 15:06; 3 Andrew Combs (Tonbridge) 15:18. Team: Tonbridge 41.
Under 13 boys (3km): 1 Tom Purnell (Stroud) 10:22; 2 Mark Shaw (New Marske) 10:35; 3 Rhys Park (Hereford and County) 10:38. Team: Tonbridge 117.
Under 20 women (5km): 1 Jessica Sparke (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) 17:03; 2 Stevie Stockton (Vale Royal) 17:29; 3 Linzi Snow (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) 17:38. Team: Bristol and West 73.
Under 17 women (5km): 1 Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot Farnham and District) 17:08; 2 Heather Timmins (Warrington) 17:48; 3 Rebecca Gough (Team Southampton) 17:49. Team: Rotherham Harriers 55.
Under 15 girls (4.25km): 1 Laura Park (Ellenborough AC) 16:33; 2 Camilla Freeman (Bodyworks Tri Club) 16:39; 3 Beth Carter (Invicta East Kent) 16:40. Team: Aldershot, Farnham and District 68.
Under 13 girls (3km): 1 Emelia Gorecka (Aldershot Farnham and District) 10:44; 2 Chloe Cook (Eastbourne Rovers) 10:59; 3 Naomi Speake (Bristol and West AC) 11:02. Team: East Cheshire and Tameside Harriers 47.