12th October 2019


Marc Scott (coach: Steve Gulley, club: Cambridge & Coleridge) and Charlotte Archer (Chris Jones; Cardiff) kicked off the 2019/20 British Athletics Cross Challenge with convincing wins at Llandaff Fields in Cardiff.

Scott, who competed at the IAAF World Championships in Doha earlier this month, had tough opposition from the off in the form of Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes; Southampton) who finished on the podium last year too. Scott would take the victory in a time of 29:21 with Mahamed closely behind in 29:27, winning silver. Third place went to Mike Ward (Paul Darney; Cardiff) in 29:47 who held on in the latter stages ahead of fast-finishing Jonny Glen (Mark Pollard; Inverclyde) who was two seconds behind in 29:49.

Scott, who struggled in Doha after picking up an injury in preparation for the World Championships, sees this as a big positive ahead of the next year.

He said: “I got injured at the wrong time of the year and I was out for about ten weeks. It was all about getting to the World Champs even if not in my best shape and now with more training the results are coming.

“I just wanted to get on the front and press and make it hard for everyone. Mahamed ran really well today and helped push me and we’ll push each other throughout the season.

“The European Cross Country Championships are in the back of my mind. I’ll have to speak to my coach first but we’ve got it pencilled in. It’s a good opportunity for medals and a Great Britain vest and I always like to get them when I get the chance.”

On home soil, Charlotte Arter took a popular win for Cardiff and was joined in a 1-2 by clubmate, Jenny Nesbitt (Chris Jones, Cardiff) as well as steeplechaser Iona Lake (Pauline Ash, City of Norwich) who ran maturely to break through the field and earn herself a bronze medal.

Arter and Nesbitt were in a group of four on lap one of two with little between the main contenders. As Arter emerged into the home stretch, she was a great distance out in front, ultimately winning in 21:31 with Nesbitt in 21:58 and Lake running out of distance in 22:03, pacing her second lap well.

Arter’s plan came together well, calling this race ‘a great start to the season’.

She said: “I just wanted to stick with the group on that first lap and if I was feeling good then my aim was to pull away in the second lap.

“I didn’t think I’d get that big a gap but I felt really strong and I could hear Chris [Jones] on the side lines telling me to push on and I worked very hard on that second lap to build as big a lead as I could.”

The under 20 men’s race had so many contenders vying for the podium with little to separate the top 20 after the first lap. Tucking in humbly on that lap just inside the top ten was Matt Willis (Wrexham) who eventually won in 19:55 in a well-paced effort. Zakariya Mahamed (Peter Haynes; Southampton) would join his brother as a silver medallist on the day having run Willis close, finishing in 20:02. Three seconds behind came Rory Leonard (Morpeth) in 20:05 who led for a great part of the race with little between the top three.

Willis himself wasn’t sure how the race would pan out but was delighted to come out on top in his home nation in a close final mile.

He said: “I didn’t know how anyone’s fitness was including myself. I thought I’d sit in and see how the pace was. As Zakariya [Mahamed] moved I knew I had to stick with him with a kilometre to go.

“There was a lot Welsh support out on the course. I haven’t raced a lot in Wales for a while because I’ve been based in Loughborough so it’s nice to come back and get a win.”

GB junior athlete Saskia Millard (Luke Gunn; Herne Hill) took victory in the under 20 race in 15:33 ahead of her Herne Hill teammate Charlotte Alexander (Wayne Vinton; Herne Hill) in 15:46. With no one either side of her, Cera Gemmell (Henry Muchamore; Team East Lothian) was able to secure the bronze, having stuck close to the front two for the majority of the race. Her time was 16:06.

Millard saw the race as a welcome return to the cross country scene. She said: “This is my first cross country season for a while so I’m not quite sure what to expect yet, but it’s nice to be back.

“I really enjoyed that race. It’d be lovely to make the European Cross Country Championships but I’ll just do my best and we’ll see what happens.

“I’ve known Charlotte [Alexander] for a while so it’s nice to run alongside someone you know and see a friendly face.”

Flynn Jennings (Bideford) and Oliver Smart (Tavistock Run Project) got to know each other well over the 5.5km course in the under 17 men’s race, with the former holding the lead from early in the first lap to the end to run 17:12. Smart would finish only four seconds behind in 17:16, keeping the winner honest throughout. Louis Small (Ashford) had originally followed the pace of the front two before having to fend off from behind to take third in 17:38.

Beatrice Wood (Dave Arney; City of Salisbury) had a strong showing in the under 17 women’s race, finishing third overall in the mixed race with the under 20s to take gold in her age group in 15:58. Ella Semple (Catherine Muth; Birchfield) would finish in the top ten overall for silver in 16:19 and would be joined by Maya Todd McIntyre (Rushcliffe) on the podium, who finished ninth overall in 16:31.

Lewis Sullivan (St. Edmund’s Pacers) was a decisive winner in the under 15 boys race, running the two-mile course in under ten minutes – 9:59. Isaac Rothwell (Mark Vile, Cambridge & Coleridge) turned out to be best of the rest more than 20 seconds down the road in 10:21 with Benjamin Peck (Thetford) rounding off the top three just behind in 10:24.

Kiya Dee (Highworth) was victorious in the under 15 girls race clocking a time of 11:18 ahead of Scarlett Livingstone (Exeter) who came out on top (11:31) in a sprint finish with Elsie Robinson (Robert Griffiths; Saffron) who had to settle for third place in 11:32.

Henry Sheffield (Cirencester) put on a dominant showcase in the under 13 boys race, winning by over 20 seconds over the 2.8km course in a time of 9:21. Oliver Patton (Robert Hawkins; Kilbarchan) had a long journey down from Paisley to hold off Iwan Thomas (Neil Thomas; Carmarthen) to round off the podium in 9:43 and 9:45 respectively.

Zoe Gilbody (Nick Hughes; Chiltern Harriers), who had watched her younger brother Kody finish third in the Under 11 boys race, went on to make it a great day for the family with a win in the under 13 girls race in a time of 9:54. Molly Shorey (City of Plymouth) finished six seconds ahead of bronze medallist Laura Chance (Westbury) in 10:08 and 10:14 respectively.

Elena Oliphant (S Factor Academy) stormed to victory in the under 11 girls race, winning by 15 seconds in 4:56 but the race behind her was where all the drama came with three athletes within a second of each other. The two who made the podium were Ophelia Jenkins (Wayne Griffiths; Pembrokeshire) and Bryony Boyce (Cardiff) both in 5:11.

William Coles (Carmarthen) came out victorious in a close finish with Daniel Pemble (Westbury) in the Under 11 boys race in 4:39 with the latter coming in two seconds later in 4:41. Kody Gilbody (Nick Hughes; Chiltern Harriers, whose sister Zoe won later in the day, was a clear third place a distance away from the front two and over ten seconds ahead of fourth in a time of 4:58.

The series continues in Milton Keynes on Saturday, 9 November at Teardrop Lakes.

Results can be found here.