17th October 2021
ARTER AND MILNER CLAIM SENIOR TITLES AT THE 2021 CARDIFF CROSS CHALLENGE
Hugo Milner and Charlotte Arter charged to victories at the Cardiff Cross Challenge, a World Athletics Cross Country Tour, Gold Label event.
Milner overcame a strong field in the senior men’s race while Arter retained her title from two years ago in near perfect conditions on Saturday.
The event also formed the opening fixture in the 2021 / 2022 British Athletics Cross Challenge Series and the first fixture in the John H Collins Gwent League with valuable points on offer in both.
The men’s race saw Omar Ahmed, Jake Smith, Zakariya Mahamed and Hugo Milner forging clear over the first lap of 3,200m. This was whittled down further leaving just Ahmed and Milner as they came into the finishing straight with Ahmed a touch ahead but unable to overcome a determined young man from Derby AC who finished third in Cardiff as an U17 athlete back in 2014 but claimed victory here in 27:18.
Birchfield Harrier Ahmed was just two seconds back in 27:20 with Jake Smith shaking his fear of the Country to finish third in 27:29. 2019 English National Champion Zakariya Mahamed and Sam Charlton finished in fourth and fifth positions.
“Today was good”, said Milner. “I knew it was going to be a tough race with Jake and Omar in the race. It was surprisingly hot which I wasn’t expecting for the first Cross Country race of the year. It was really fast race and I averaged 4:46 per mile. I thought I was going to get dropped on that last lap but I just had something left in the tank on that last 200m which was a bit of a surprise because I don’t usually win sprint finishes.”
Arter and training partner Jenny Nesbitt had chosen different ways to prepare for the start of the Cross Country season with the former choosing competitive road races and the latter training at altitude in Font Romeu.
The pair were locked in battle after the first large lap having already pulled clear of 2014 European Cross Country Silver medallist Kate Avery, Jess Gibbon, Hannah Irwin and Izzy Fry.
Arter showed her class however and appeared on the finish straight of the flat and fast course at Llandaff Fields first winning over the 6,400m course in 20:11.
Nesbitt was next back, finishing second with the fast finishing Jess Gibbon improving on her fourth from last time, just behind and closing out the podium positions. Irwin overcame Fry with the pair finishing fourth and fifth.
Arter was clearly delighted with her first Cross Country outing since 2019 saying; “It was a fantastic race. Jenny made it such a tough race, right from the start and she really made the rest of the field work hard and it came down to an exciting sprint finish. I was really happy to get the win to kick start the Cross Country season and I’m really excited now for the rest of the season.”
Ireland’s Dean Casey won the U20 men’s race over 6,400m in 18:34 ahead of Alexander Molloy who was the first home to score points in the Cross Challenge Series with Johnny Livingstone third.
Pre-race favourite Megan Keith is a current UK Inter-Counties Champion and Cross Challenge Series winner, crowned in March 2019 at Loughborough. The Garscube Harrier was a convincing winner of the combined U17 / U20 women’s race with fellow Scottish athlete Louisa Brown finishing second in the race outright and as the first U17. Ellen Weir was the third athlete home and second in the U17 contingent.
Benjamin Peck took U17 men’s race honours with and Robert Price and Zoe Gilbody claiming U15 honours over 3,200m.
*Report courtesy of Welsh Athletics