28th December 2021
2021/22 CROSS CHALLENGE SERIES - THE STORY SO FAR
The British Athletics Cross Challenge series was back with a bang in October 2021, and we are already three races down in the five event series. See who is leading the way in the prestigious series which features the best cross country racers in the UK taking to the muddy terrain.
Before the series heads onto Belfast (22nd January 2022 – including World Athletics International, Home Countries International and Celtic Challenge) and Loughborough (12th March 2022 – incorporating UK Inter Counties Championships), we take a look back at how the series looks after three races between October and November 2021.
In the senior women’s standings, Jess Gibbon (Reading) and Jenny Nesbitt (Chris Jones, Cardiff) are level at the top of the rankings as they’ve dominated the early winter season. Gibbon sealed victory in Milton Keynes, the first Cross Challenge victory in her career. Meanwhile, Nesbitt has enjoyed great consistency, finishing second in Cardiff, Milton Keynes and Liverpool. Charlotte Arter won in the Welsh capital in the opening race of the 2021/22 series, and Jess Judd took the win at Sefton Park.
Both athletes – Gibbon and Nesbitt – were part of the gold-medal winning British team at the recent European Cross Country Championships. Hannah Irwin (James Thie, Cambridge and Coleridge) and Kate Avery (Shildon) are ranked third and fourth in the overall standings after three events.
In the senior men’s standings, Hugo Milner (Derby) leads the way after impressing on his way to race victories in Cardiff and Milton Keynes. Zakariya Mahamed (Idris Hamud, Southampton) is second in the overall standings – a second place at Teardrop Lakes in the second race of the series pushed him up the rankings.
European cross country team members Jake Smith (James Thie, Cardiff), Sam Charlton (Helen Clitheroe, Wallsend) and Matthew Stonier (Peter Mullervy, Invicta East Kent) round out the top five, but Milner and Mahamed enjoy a gap at the top with 109 and 106 points respectively.
After her gold-medal winning performance in Dublin at the Euro Cross, perhaps it is no surprise that Megan Keith (Ross Cairns, Inverness) leads the U20 women’s standings by five points from Ellen Weir (Anne Hegvold, Hercules Wimbledon). The Scottish athlete has dominated the series this winter, winning all three of the Cross Challenge fixtures to date, so she is looking formidable at this stage in the series. Beatrice Wood (Dave Amey, City of Salisbury) and Alice Garner (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham and District) are equal third, two points further back from Weir.
Hamish Armitt (Crawford Whyte, Giffnock North) leads the U20 men’s standings courtesy of his victory in Milton Keynes. He has 53 points, as does Liam Rawlings (Colin Lancaster, Shrewsbury), but his event win sees him take the advantage with two races left. Exeter’s Johnny Livingstone is one point back in third.
Jess Bailey (Matthew Bailey, Leven Valley) is a clear leader in the U17 women’s standings, five points clear of Louisa Brown (Garscube Harriers) – the latter won the opening fixture in Cardiff before Bailey won the next two.
St Edmund Pacers’ Benjamin Peck takes a four-point lead ahead of Chorley’s Jacob Deacon (Katie Hewison) in the men’s U17 contest. Seamus Robinson (Westbury) is third, also on 54 points, in the wide-open age group.
In the battle for the U15 women’s crown, Zoe Gilbody (John Skevington, Wreake and Soar Valley) currently takes the top spot ahead of Isla Bryson (Exeter) despite the pair having the same number of points. A victory in Cardiff and second spot in Liverpool sees Gilbody nudge into first place after three events.
However, in the U15 men’s rankings Robert Price (Andrew Carter, Vale Royal) is a convincing leader having won all three of the opener fixtures. He sits of 59 points with Craig Shennan (Angela Carson, Giffnock North) and Iwan Thomas (Neil Thomas, Carmarthen & District) on 54 points.
Swansea’s Libby Hale (John Griffiths) heads the U13 girls standings after triumphing in Cardiff and Milton Keynes, with Estelle Lowe (Westbury) two points back.
Due to two race wins, Wells City Harriers’ Will Birchall edges the U13 boys rankings with him and William Coles (Carmarthen & District Harriers) both on 56 points.
Find out more about the British Athletics Cross Challenge Series HERE.