REPORT for the English XC Association 03/09.
Home Countries International and Aviva SIAB under20 International, Bagnor, March 28th
England teams completely dominated the recent Home Countries International and Aviva SIAB under20 International cross-country races at Bagnor’s Faenol Park last Saturday; as Wales hosted the annual England V Northern Ireland V Scotland V Wales match; writes Nicola Bamford.
After an 18-year absence, the annual fixture was revived at last years’ World cross-country Championship weekend in Edinburgh and returned in 2009 by featuring the top senior and junior athletes – albeit the World cross-country representatives in action in Jordan the following day – the British Isles has to offer.
The most impressive English performances – both individually and as a team – came in the senior women’s race. 23 year-old Susie Hignett (Bournemouth AC) took the victory to cap off a brilliant winter season; which included 7th place in the European under23 cross-country Championships and 9th in the recent Inter-Counties/World trials. Telford AC’s 34 year-old Claire Martin was an impressive runner-up – the Midland silver-medallist rounded off her winter campaign; following her 16th place in the National and 12th in the Inter-Counties. Third scorer was Justina Heslop of Clapham Chasers in third spot. The 30 year-old, who was 7th in both the National and Inter-Counties, was followed by Kendal’s Rebecca Robinson in fourth-place. The 26 year-old placed 14th in both the National and Inter-Counties.
The senior men’s squad followed suit by attaining the top team honours; led by Bedford and County’s Neilson Hall. The 26 year-old 9th-placer from the National and 10th in the Inter-Counties was supported by 26 year-old Neil Gamester (Shaftesbury Barnett AC) in third place. Behind the Inter-Counties 11th-placer was Sale’s Gareth Raven; who in the fourth spot, built on the 8th and 12th places in the National and Inter-Counties, respectively for the 34 year-old. Bedford’s 30 year-old Darren Deed improved on his 17th in the National and 14th in the Inter-Counties to place fifth.
Also taking team victory was the England junior women’s outfit; led by Aldershot, Farnham and District’s Emma Pallant. The 19 year-old – who was 8th in the senior National and Inter-Counties – was backed up by Ellie Sprake of Ipswich Harriers, in third place. The 19 year-old; who was 5th in the National and 18th in the Inter-Counties, finished just ahead of 20 year-old Hollie Rowland; who was fourth, following on from her 7th place in the National and 19th in Inter-Counties. Dacorum and Tring AC’s Hannah Walker was 6th – the 17 year-old baby of the team was 6th in the Inter-Counties and 2nd in the English Schools Championships recently.
England’s junior men only slightly slipped up by claiming the runner-up team spot; as Elswick Harrier’s 18 year-old Phillip Hurst – 13th in the Inter-Counties - topped the team pile by placing 4th. Birchfield’s 20 year-old James Trollope; who was 10th in the National, was the second counter in 5th; followed by Enfield and Harringey’s 19 year-old Shaun Collins – 9th in the National – in 9th place and Southend’s 18 year-old Ben Hunter; who was 2nd in the National, placing 10th.
Junior men’s team manager; Keith Holt summed up the day; “It was an excellent day’s competition in a lovely setting. The Welsh were very well organised and the teams did very well. The race is well-worth supporting and we hope to support it again next year, as it may be in England.”