Saucony English National cross-country Championships report (written for the English XC Association, 02/09).
Glorious sun and mud-baths covered the challenging terrain of London’s Parliament Hill Fields last weekend, as the great cross-country venue greeted the nation’s finest mud-larks and record fields for the 2009 Saucony English National cross-country Championships, writes NICOLA BAMFORD.
SENIOR MEN: A total of 1455 senior men finished the gruelling 12km course; the best since 1999 and top of the pile was the pre-race favourite; Wells City Harriers’ 25 year-old Frank Tickner. With a superb 10th place in the European cross (Brussels, Dec 2008), in addition to recent fine international displays in Italy and Edinburgh, Tickner was evidently the man to beat and showed a powerful display of strength to take an 8-second win ahead of Steve Vernon. The 28 year-old Northern Champion from Stockport put in a strong challenge to stay hot on Tickner’s heels and was a clear runner-up; with the European under23 cross-country silver-medallist over the mud; Aldershot’s Andy Vernon coming home in third; the 23 year-old improving vastly on his tenth place in the 2008 event. Belgrave’s Phil Wicks; the Southern Champion and Moumin Geele from the Newham and Essex Beagles club were fourth and fifth, respectively.
In the team race, Newham and Essex Beagles took the spoils ahead of Bedford and County AC and the 2008 Champions, Leeds AC.
SENIOR WOMEN: 546 runners finished in this event; the highest figure since 1996. Britain’s top counter in the European cross (in 8th place); Hallamshire’s 27 year-old Hatti Dean stole the show with an impressive display – Dean took victory by 12-seconds ahead of Kendal’s 22 year-old European under23 silver-medallist; Sarah Tunstall. The Northern silver and bronze-medallists each improved considerably in this event to dominate the field, but even more impressive in terms of progress was the performance of 29 year-old Sonia Samuels (nee Thomas) of Sale Harriers; who made a breakthrough in taking the third spot, after solid displays in the Northern (4th place) and abroad recently. Charnwood’s 27 year-old Midland Champion, Jane Potter and Havering Mayesbrook’s 24 year-old, Lauren Deadman completed the top five.
Charnwood capitalised on their National cross-country relay team gold from November to once again destroy the competition to take the team honours. Bristol and West AC and Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield took silver and bronze.
JUNIOR MEN: Belgrave’s Nick Goolab; the 19 year-old who placed 65th in the European cross made light work of becoming National junior Champion, as he registered a fine 18-second winning margin. 18 year-old Southend athlete; Ben Hunter reversed the finishing positions from the Southern Championships to claim silver ahead of Woodford Green and Essex Ladies’ 17 year-old Ronnie Sparke; the Southern Champion.
The 2008 team runners up; Norwich AC took a clear win from Leeds City AC and Winchester and District AC.
JUNIOR WOMEN: Three-time European junior cross-country Champion; Steph Twell expectedly ended her junior career on a high, by comfortably retaining her junior national crown by 13-seconds. The 19 year-old Aldershot World 1500m junior Champion and Olympic semi-finalist made light work of her most recent victory; this time over 18 year-old Leigh Harriers’ Lauren Howarth; the European bronze-medallist and recent winner of the Northern Championships. 17 year-old Aldershot runner; Lily Partridge took bronze.
The 2008 team standings were replicated; as Aldershot took the team title, ahead of Rotherham and Royal Sutton Coldfield.
UNDER17 MEN: 16 year-old Southern Champion; Jonny Hay of Aldershot took the under17 men’s title by 17-seconds, ahead of Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers’ 15 year-old Southern bronze-medallist; Richard Goodman. Scarborough’s 17 year-old Danny Schofield; the Northern Champion, narrowly captured the third spot.
Aldershot, Farnham and District, Shaftesbury Barnett Harriers and Tonbridge AC took the team medals.
UNDER17 WOMEN: Aldershot’s 17 year-old Louise Small; the bronze-medallist from 12-months ago and recent Southern runner-up caused a surprise by taking victory over Shildon’s Northern silver-medallist; 17 year-old Kate Avery and pre-race favourite; Laura Park of Ellenborough AC – the 2008 winner and European 6th placer.
Aldershot took the team spoils ahead of Vale Royal AC and Tonbridge AC.
UNDER15 BOYS: There were a record 398 finishers in this event and Southern Champion; 15 year-old Harvey Dixon of Aldershot captured victory by a mere second; over Cornwall’s 15 year-old Conor Robinson – who improved vastly from his recent 5th place in the Southern Championships. Southern runner-up; Karnvir Hayer – the 14 year-old Ealing, Southall and Middlesex runner took bronze.
Tonbridge AC, Invicta East Kent AC and Ipswich Harriers took the team top spots.
UNDER15 GIRLS: Emelia Gorecka; Aldershot’s 15 year-old Southern Champion retained her title from 2008 whilst registering a six-second win over 15 year-old Bristol and West’s Annabel Gummow; who has not raced since December. Thurrock AC’s 14 year-old Jessica Judd improved from 6th in the Southerns recently to take bronze.
Aldershot once again dominated; this time ahead of East Cheshire Harriers and Tameside AC and Bedford and County AC.
UNDER13 BOYS: Northern Champion; 13 year-old Helm Hill Harrier, James Knox took a close victory ahead of 12 year-old Ashford AC’s Max Nicholls and 13 year-old Adam Howard of Oldham and Royton AC.
Aldershot, Tonbridge and Wirral AC took the team honours.
UNDER13 GIRLS: 13 year-old Carlisle Aspatria athlete; Abbie Hetherington – the Northern Champion – took a thrilling one-second victory over 13 year-old Team Bath runner; Loren Bleaken (who has not raced since December) and 12 year-old Harriet Preedy of Aldershot; who greatly improved from her 8th place in the recent Southern Championships.
Aldershot again took the team honours ahead of Leicester Coritanian AC and Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC.