15 March 2008
Laura Kenney and Tom Humphries were the senior winners in today’s Inter Counties Championships and World Trials held at Wollaton Park in Nottingham.
Both athletes have Midland connections, yet that is where the similarities end. Going into today’s races, Laura Kenney had previously finished 10th in the English National just two weeks before in Stafford, and had discounted herself as a title hopeful here at Wollaton Park. Humphries however had been an impressive winner at the same fixture and it was difficult to see the Cannock and Stafford athlete being beat in his current vein of form.
Despite an unfortunate run-in with a heavy shopping trolley just days beforehand, Tom Humphries recovered from a sore Achilles in time to put in another dominant cross country performance in the shadow of Wollaton Hall.
Currently working part time at a Co-op store he recounted how a clumsily controlled trolley nearly ended his World trials hopes last weekend, and how after waking up on Thursday morning with extreme soreness in the same spot, had not run a step prior to warming up on Saturday morning in the approach this race.
“I had a warm up and felt not too bad but because my calf was still tight I had a massage. I’ve never raced straight after a massage before – and now I know why – my legs felt weird for the early stages of the race but once I got away I felt strong, like a hard tempo run and was able to relax into my running.”
Pushed on in the early stages by Phil Wicks representing Surrey, Humphries finally escaped his southern rival although both were equally delighted with their selection winning performances.
Result: 1 T Humphries (Staffs) 37.03; 2 P Wicks (Surrey) 37.11; 3 M Skinner (Kent) 37.19; 4 A Lemoncello (Scot East) 37.23; 5 A Vernon (Hampshire) 37.42; 6 J Walsh (Warks) 37.44.
Laura Kenney took good advantage of the big cross country names missing from Wollaton Park – but that was not to take away from her achievement in impressively taking her first senior title. Last year’s European U23 5000m champion was clearly frustrated with missing the first part of cross country season and her chance to compete as part of the U23 team at Toro in the European Cross Country Championships through a knee injury. And so convinced was she that she would not figure in the battle for selection places she had even booked a flight to go warm weather training, the day before the World Cross Country championships takes place in Edinburgh in two weeks time.
Kenney said: “I was very annoyed to miss the European Championships in December – I thought it would be the next step in my progression to go from track U23, do something at U23 level on the cross country and then up to Senior but now I’ve taken my first senior title I can’t believe it!”
Sister Olivia – who ran in the World Cross Country team in 2007 received a literal running commentary from their mother – who was communicating with the medical student via mobile phone during the entire race.
Results: 1 L Kenney (Warks) 27.56; 2 J Wilkinson (Essex) 28.09; 3 Rachel Townend (Hampshire) 28.10; 4 F Fullerton (Essex) 28.20; 5 G Miles (Cumbria) 28.23; 6 F Milton (Leicestershire) 28.27.
David Forrester used the hill to attack in the same way many dominant cross country runners have done in the past and built up an impressive victory margin over the rest of the field in the Junior men’s trial race.
His 11 second victory over Simon Horsfield further solidified the current dominance he has in cross country, and proved his lower placing in the national just a few weeks ago to be a mere “blip” in his recent results. He confirmed though that the National had enabled him to perform as he did here today as well as last week with the English Schools title:
“With the National I had been training hard that week and it wasn’t the main target for my season, however having said that you don’t like to lose - and the result really brought me down to earth and gave me a timely reminder that there are some really good guys in my age group.”
Results: 1 D Forrester (Merseyside) 25.37; 2 S Horsfield (Grt Manchester) 25.48; 3 P Berntsen (Hampshire) 25.49; 4 D Griffiths (West Wales) 25.51; 5 R Murray (North East) 25.55; 6 M Goose (Norfolk) 26.06.
Laura Park shrugged off an overnight bout of illness and migraine to take an impressive Junior Women’s title at Wollaton Park – admitting the increasing list of drop-outs had made her leave her sick bed to contest the trial knowing there were team slots up for grabs:
“I just thought as long as I get in the top three I have a chance, so decided to see if I could warm up and if I felt okay to try and race,” she recalled after.
Indeed it looked as though she would have to settle for silver at one point when Emma Pallant built up a good lead, but the dogged Park would not be beaten and working hard into the wind on the final straight overtook a fading Pallant with 400m to take the title as well as the first of the selection spots for the World Cross Country. It was a remarkable achievement for the 16 year old competing up an age group and pleased to note she had four World Cross Country championships to potentially attend as a junior. “It’s like winning the lottery,” she beamed of her victorious afternoon.
Results: 1 L Park (Cumbria) 22.31; 2 E Pallant (Hampshire) 22.35; 3 L Partridge (Surrey) 22.37; 4 H Avil (Northants) 22.42; 5 L Howarth (Grt Manchester) 22.44; 6 B Potter (Scotland West) 22.46.
Other title winners from today’s races were: Under 13 Boys: Fergus Roberts (Yorkshire); Under 13 Girls Jessica Judd (Essex); Under 15 Boys: Tom Curr (Gloucs); Under 15 Girls Emelia Gorecka (Surrey); Under 17 Men Ahmed Abdisirak (Yorks); Under 17 Women: Jess Burns (Devon).