Monica Williamson and Kelly Edwards of Leamington C&AC both claimed a team gold in their respective age categories for England in the prestigious British and Irish Masters Cross Country International which took place this year in Liverpool on Saturday 16th November. This annual event invites teams from the four home countries as well as Ireland and this year was England’s turn to host the event.
The race took place in the grounds of the famous Aintree race course and although the course was flat the long tufty grass and boggy patches made for energy-sapping racing. The women raced over 6km taking in three laps of the spectator-friendly course. Conditions on the day were near perfect with little wind to hinder the athletes.
Both athletes got their call-up from the England selectors on the back of performances through the year. Williamson, making an impressive tenth consecutive appearance in these championships, showed she still had international pedigree while at age 59 and in the final year of her age group secured gold for the W55 team. She ran an intelligent even-paced race and worked through the field overtaking competitors on the last lap to finish in the time of 24:33, the W55 winner being England’s Clare Elms in 22:31.
Edwards was making her debut England appearance in these championships and fully justified her selection coming in as third scorer for the winning W40 team and a hugely impressive 10th place in the overall race. She commented after the race that she had been apprehensive beforehand but was very pleased with her run and delighted to claim a gold medal for the England team. She finished in the time of 22:08, the race being won overall by W40 Kirsty Longley of England in 21:00.
Both Williamson and Edwards have a full schedule of winter racing ahead and will compete for their club in the Midland Ladies Cross Country league and the county championships with further national honours to aim for at the BMAF Championships in Wales in March.
Leamington youth double up to represent county and club.
It was a busy weekend for some of Leamington C&AC’s younger members as 7 club-mates raced on both days to ensure loyalty to their club and their county. Saturday saw the Schools Inter Area final at Lilleshall National Sports Centre. The wet wet weather led to a water logged course which saw children crossing the finish line covered in mud. Ila Lane and James Gould debuted for their county running in the minor races with Jai Sispal representing Warwickshire in the Intermediate Boys race. Prestige for the club had to go to the intermediate girls however which placed 5 runners in the county team of 12. A common sight at cross country events, Mel Gould, Ana Lovett, Emily Lovett and Molly Minshull pushed each other round the 2 lap course whilst Emma Dobson raced off in front. Final positions were still awaited at the time of going to press.
The girls were back on Sunday at Warley Woods for the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross country League, this time separated due to different age categories. The Lovett sisters and Minshull teamed up with Rosie Cale, Lucy Green and Rositsa Gugutkova to put the team in a formidable 5th in the U17 girls race. The trio kept the usual pack mentality with Emily finishing 22nd, Ana 23rd and Molly 24th, Rosie followed in 32nd, shortly followed by Lucy (34) and Rositsa (42). Dobson and Gould, still within the U15 category, finished 17th and 43rd respectively, teaming up with Eva Fitzpatrick (72nd) and Megan Marsh (82) to place the team 10th overall. The best placed LCAC member of the day was Caitlin French, running in the U11 race finishing in a fantastic 5th place, supported by Rosa Wetherall (25) and Madeline Lim (28), the girls came 12th overall. One ranked place in front of the girls were the U11 boys team with fine performances from Archie Lane (12), Louis Proctor (21) and Ishan Carson. The U13 teams were slightly sparse with only Ila Lane (50) and Kimmy Burton (61) running for the girls and Oliver Wetherall (46) and James Gould (48) for the boys and Harry Bailey ran solo for the club in the under 15 boys event (54)
The Midland Women’s Cross Country League was held at Burton Dassett Hills at the weekend. The weeks of rain had soaked the ground nicely leading to some slippy conditions for the ladies who were also faced with rain and cold temperatures for their event.
Despite the conditions, 13 Leamington C&AC ladies donned their race vests and stood on the start line, willing the gun to fire if only so that, by running, they would warm up. A 2 lapped course with barely any flat surface followed, with Kelly Edwards leading the team home in 10th place in a fantastic time of 28:28. New comer to cross country, Hannah Thorne, was clearly not put off by the harsh conditions finishing in 19th place (29:35) with Natalie Bhangal finishing in 24th (30:07). Zara Hadfield finished the scoring team in 37th position (31:05) taking the team to what appears to be 5th position, although this was not confirmed at time of going to press.
Emily Wilson who, having turned 17 in September, only just qualified to race with the senior ladies and was, understandably, concerned about running the 6.5km distance in such bad conditions. Wilson need not have worried however, running strongly throughout and finishing in a time of 39:11.
Other runners: Saffia Del Torre (35:05); Courtney Depala (36:35); Sarah Price (36:45); Sara Atkins (37:41); Shamira Naidu-Young (37:53); Judith Hanlon (38:29); Laura Gould (38:44); Louise Marsh (45:01)