Wednesday, 8 July 2009

English Cross-Country Association Saucony Relay Championships, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire – November 3rd – an insider’s review. (written for Running Fitness 11/07).

The annual National cross-country relay Championships returned to Mansfield’s Berry Hill Park for an eighteenth year last month and proved a resounding success, as the temperature and senior contests rose to a sizzling level, writes Nicola Bamford.

Athletes sharpening-up for the forthcoming European Trials – and with a view to the European Championships themselves – relished on the lawn-like terrain around the Nottinghamshire course, where the routes were slightly longer than previous years after taking in a downhill finish to accommodate the chip-timing area.

The women’s event, in its eighteenth edition, went to 2006 7th-placers, Havering Mayersbrook AC. The youthful outlet, with an average age of just 22, were the most consistent of the 83 complete teams in terms of stage times over the 3x3km contest, and two of the successful squad registered in the top six marks of the day to boot.

Champions for the past three years, Charnwood AC, had to relinquish their crown by a resounding 40-second margin, but still fought bravely to secure the silver medals ahead of Aldershot Farnham and District AC.

20 year-old Harriet Scott ignited the Havering challenge strongly by completing the first stage in third place (9:51), closely behind Wakefield AC’s Charlene Thomas (9:46) and Claire Entwistle (9:50) of Wigan Phoenix. 2006 World cross-country representative and Durham University student, Felicity Milton (9:52) made her championship return after an injury-plagued summer in fourth on the same stage in which your writer finished 14th, to finish as 27th-fastest (10:18) of the day.

World indoor 1500m representative, Katrina Wootton (9:47) moved 2006 bronze-medallists, Bedford and County AC up five positions on the second stage whilst registering the fastest mark of leg two by twelve seconds. Charnwood moved into the medal frame courtesy of a nine-place improvement from Jane Potter (9:59) and Alexa Joel (10:01) took Havering into second.

Faye Fullerton clocked the fastest lap on the final stage (9:44) by seven seconds to bring the Havering tri home as champions and Aldershot’s new signing, Vicky Gill fought hard by passing four runners to narrow the gap to Charnwood’s Jane Potter in a thrilling finish for the minor medals.

Senior women –
1st (29:38.30) Havering Mayersbrook AC – (Harriet Scott 9:51 (3rd), Alexa Joel (2nd) 10:01, Faye Fullerton (1st) 9:44.

2nd (30:18.60) – Charnwood AC – (Hannah Whitmore (12th) 10:15, Juliet Potter (3rd) 9:59, Jane Potter (2nd) 10:04.

3rd (30:24) Aldershot Farnham and District AC) – (Emily Adams (10th) 10:10, Susie Bush (7th) 10:22, Vicky Gill (3rd) 9:51.

Fastest stages – 1 Fullerton 9:44.55, 2 Charlene Thomas (Wakefield AC) 9:46.80, 3 Katrina Wootton (Bedford County AC) 9:47.55, 4 Claire Entwistle (Wigan Phoenix) 9:50.00, 5 Gill 9:51.60, 6 Scott 9:51.80, 7 Felicity Milton (Durham University AC) 9:52.05, 8 Gemma Miles (Kendal AC) 9:57.20, 9 Jane Potter 9:59.55, 10 Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers AC) 9:59.90.

The 22nd edition of the men’s 4x5km relay Championship resulted in National six-stage road relay Champions, Belgrave Harriers registering the fifth-fastest mark of all-time to add to their 2003 gold and 2004 silver medals.

National six-stage silver-medallists, Leeds City AC battled to the second-spot once again, with Bedford and County AC fending off a spirited challenge from Midland six-stage road Champions, Notts AC by a mere two seconds for the bronze. 2006 Champions, Newham and Essex Beagles were a disappointing sixth.

World 1500m finalist, Andy Baddeley of Harrow AC (14:49) held on for stage one victory ahead of Gateshead’s Chris Parr (14:51) and Stockport’s European under23 cross-country representative, Steve Vernon (14:52).

Stage two belonged to Blackheath and Bromley’s Mike Skinner (14:33.85), who made up an astounding forty-seven places and clocked the fastest loop of the leg by nine seconds. Leigh Harriers AC’S Pete Riley (14:42) made nineteen places; whilst Harrow AC’s Adam Bowden supported Baddeley’s run with a 14:51 run. Wells City Harriers’ Ben Tickner (14:57) passed thirteen runners, Bedford entered the hunt through Matt Janes (14:58.25); bringing them into second-spot and Ryan McLeod (14:52) moved Loughborough University up nineteen places.
Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers’ M35 man, Dominic Bannister made sixteen places on the penultimate stage with a 14:54 clocking, as Billy Farquaharson (14:59) took Notts AC into the lead for the first time.

Reigning National and Inter-County cross-country Champion, Frank Tickner (Wells City Harriers) sped to a scintillating 14:25, in registering the fastest split of the final stage by fourteen seconds and comfortably attaining the fastest mark of the day. Dave Webb’s useful 14:39 run moved Leeds from fourth to second and Phil Wick’s 14:45 leg was enough to bolster the Belgrave quartet from second to first.

Senior men – 1st (1:00.04) – Belgrave Harriers – (Steve Sharp (6th) 15:05.03, Mark Pollard (4th) 15:08.45, Mark Miles (2nd) 15:04.55, Phil Wicks (1st) 14:45.80.

2nd (1:00.22) – Leeds City AC – (Martin Roscoe (17th) 15:25.10, Adam Grice (10th) 15:15.85, James Walsh (4th) 15:01.85, Dave Webb (2nd) 14:39.65.

3rd (1:00.29) - (Bedford and County AC) – (Dan Dalmedo (8th) 15:10.95, Matt Janes (2nd) 14:58.25, Darren Deed (3rd) 15:11.00, Neilson Hall (3rd) 15:09.75.

Fastest legs – 1 F Tickner 14:25.80 (Wells City Harriers), 2 M Skinner 14:33.85 (Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC), 3 Dave Webb 14:39.65 (Leeds City AC), 4 P Riley (Leigh Harriers AC) 14:42.15, 5 P Wicks (Belgrave Harriers) 14:45.80, 6 M Geele (Newham and Essex Beagles) 14:48.10, 7 A Baddelely (Harrow AC) 14:49.00, 8 A Bowden (Harrow AC) 14:51.65, 9 Steve Vernon (Stockport Harriers) 14:52.20, 10 R McLeod (Loughborough Uni) 14:52.25

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