13th November 2023
MEGAN KEITH SEALS BIG WIN AT CARDIFF CROSS CHALLENGE
Megan Keith (coach: Ross Cairns, club: Inverness) earned one of the biggest cross country wins of her career at the World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold Label Event in Cardiff which hosted the first fixture in the 2023/24 British Athletics Cross Challenge series.
Meanwhile, Zakariya Mahamed (Idris Hamud, Southampton) was the first Briton across the line in the senior men’s race won by Uganda’s Keneth Kiprop, while there were U20 wins for Innes Fitzgerald and Sam Hodgson.
Keith excelled in the senior women’s race as she was a comfortable winner against an international field. The Scottish athlete won silver in the U23 race at the European Cross Country Championships last year and she started her 2023 cross country campaign in style as she surged to the win at Llandaff Fields.
She claimed the win ahead of Likina Amebaw (ETH) and Asmerech Anley (ETH) who were around half a minute further back.
The closest British challenger to Keith was world 10,000m finalist Jessica Warner-Judd (Mick Judd) who was fifth overall, while Izzy Fry (Newbury) was third in the Series race a few seconds further back from the Blackburn Harrier. Jess Gibbon (Reading) was fourth Briton overall in eighth position while another U23 medallist from the Europeans in Turin last year, Alexandra Millard (Bill Foster, Invicta East Kent), was 10th overall.
In the senior men’s race, Zakariya Mahamed was the first Briton across the line in fourth overall, while the race was won by Keneth Kiprop (UGA) with Vincent Mutai (KEN) and Abele Bekele Alema (ETH) filling the other podium positions.
Mahamed’s closest British challengers were twins George and Charles Wheeler (James Bennett, MK Distance Project) who finished seventh and eighth overall in the standings.
The elite women’s and men’s mile races – taking place at the event for the first time – were won by Hannah Irwin (James Thie, Cambridge & Coleridge) and Tom Dodd (Luke Gunn, Birchfield Harriers) respectively.
The women’s contest was a more comfortable affair for Irwin who finished nine seconds ahead of her nearest opponents, Lilly Hawkins (Steven Phillips, Southampton) and Lauren Church (Mark Booth, Reading).
Meanwhile, the men’s race was a much closer contest with just two seconds separating the top three. Dodd took the win narrowly ahead of Tyler Bilyard (Jethro McGraw, Great Yarmouth) and Alexander Melloy (Mark Vile, Cambridge & Coleridge) in a frantic finish.
In the women’s U20 race, Innes Fitzgerald (Exeter) once again showed her prowess on the terrain as she won by almost a minute from Lizzie Wellsted (Colchester Harriers). The 2022/23 Cross Challenge champion picked up where she left off as she stole a march on her rivals to win convincingly to lay down a marker for the rest of the winter season. Third place in the race went to Eliza Nicholson (Philip Kissi, Blackheath & Bromley) who was the top U17 finisher in the combined U17/U20 race.
Sam Hodgson (Shireen Higgins, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) won the men’s U20 race from Dafydd Jones (James Thie, Swansea) and Louis Small (Ashford AC) who rounded out the podium positions.
Earlier in the programme of events, Alex Lennon (Nick Hancock, Sutton & District) sealed victory in the U17 men’s race by just two seconds from Oscar Schofield (Trevor Painter, Sale Harriers Manchester) in an entertaining contest.
The U15 girls and boys races were won by Olivia Forrest (Paul Forrest, Brentwood Beagles) and Evan Grime (Ian Grime, Salford Harriers) respectively. Grime narrowly pipped Calum Dick (Angela Carson, Giffnock North) by just one second the win the latter race.
Maisie Mullett (John Skevington, Wreake & Soar Valley) and Lucas Howard Machado (Cardiff Archers) took race victories in the U13 races, while Madison Kindler (Paul Forrest, Brentwood Beagles) and Sebastian Palmer (Wolverhampton & Bilston) won U11 winners at the start of the programme in south Wales.
*Photo credit – Owen Morgan