14th March 2019
CROSS CHALLENGE SERIES FINALE RECAP
Defending Cross Challenge champion Mahamed Mahamed (coach: Peter Haynes; club: Southampton AC) became the first senior man since 2013 to successfully defend his title following a strong showing in Loughborough on Saturday.
The Southampton athlete was in touch for long spells in the race and by virtue of his fifth place finish, and the fact Ross Millington (Jon Brown; Stockport) and Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby; Preston) were not racing the Cross Challenge series, Mahamed edged Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin; Southend) to the title by just a point.
Kate Avery (Shildon) was crowned senior women’s champion for a second time by virtue of a typically solid run from the North East athlete.
Avery, who had raced in all meetings on the Cross Challenge circuit, had taken maximum points hauls in Cardiff and Milton Keynes to bolster her position and came home in fourth place in Loughborough.
Jess Piasecki (Robert Hawkins; Stockport), who was racing on the cross country circuit this winter for the first time since the 2012/13 season, took maximum points on the day despite finishing in second-place, but was six points behind Avery.
Piasecki finished on the same points tally as Mhairi MacLennan (Helen Clitheroe; Edinburgh Uni Hare & Hounds) and Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Mick Woods; Aldershot, Farnham & District) of 202, but her position on the day helped her clinch second overall.
Meanwhile, Grace Brock (Cornwall AC), who stepped up from under-17 to under-20 level, secured back-to-back Cross Challenge titles by virtue of claiming three wins from her four series races over the winter.
Brock had slipped off the back of the leading group in the early stages of the race but bided her time and made a clinical move in difficult conditions to take victory, and her automatic qualifying spot on the World Cross Country team.
The men’s equivalent saw Zakariya Mahamed (Peter Haynes; Southampton AC) secure his second series title following Under-15 success in 2016, as he came home in fourth-place, to edge Matt Willis (self; Wrexham) to the title.
Despite finishing behind Rory Leonard (Morpeth) and Josh Cowperthwaite (Martin Peevor; Middlesbrough Mandale), the duo were not entered into the Cross Challenge, allowing Mahamed to scoop the honours by just one point.
By virtue of victory on the day in Loughborough, Shannon Flockhart (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge) did enough to edge Maya Todd-McIntyre (Graham Moffatt; Rushcliffe AC) to the title after both ended the series on 106 points.
Flockhart had finished behind Todd-McIntyre in Cardiff and Milton Keynes before delivering a strong performance in Liverpool to climb to the summit, and made up for missing Dundonald by finishing third on the day, some 15 seconds ahead of her rival.
Hamish Armitt (Dudley Walker; Giffnock North) capped a near-perfect series with a maximum points haul and second-place finish in Loughborough, ensuring he did not finish outside the top two in any of his three under-17 races over the winter.
Anna Hedley (Mick Woods; Fife AC) romped to the under-15 girls title, breaking 100 points to finish 10 points clear of Kiya Dee (Highworth AC) in second and clinch her second Cross Challenge title, following her success at under-13 level in 2016.
Fraser Sproul (Kendal AC) produced a showstopping final run of the series to ensure he walked away with the under-15 boys title, leapfrogging Kyle Rabjohn (Richmond & Zetland) and Lewis Sullivan (St Edmund Pacers) courtesy of a maximum points haul and gutsy performance, coming home 11 seconds ahead of Sullivan and nearly 20-seconds ahead of Rabjohn.
William Rabjohns (Mark Pauley; Poole AC) took back-to-back under-13 boys titles despite finishing in second place, on Saturday, as Isaac Morris (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge) finished fourth, allowing the Poole athlete to win due to his finishing position on the day.
Ben Peck (Thetford AC) took the victory on the day in 11:46, as he finished in third position in the standings overall.
Exeter’s Scarlett Livingstone added her maiden Cross Challenge title to the England Under-13 Girls championship title she claimed last month, coming home in second position overall in 12:47, ahead of Isabelle Price’s (Wolverhampton & Bilston) 13:03.
She finished second in the standings on 104 points, with Livingstone’s second series victory of the season enough to see her crowned champion.