National Cross Country Champs
The sun shone on the Saucony National Cross Country Championships on Saturday. Held on Parliament Hill, with central London emerging out of the mist on the skyline, Leamington C&AC athletes congregated underneath their flag amongst hundreds of other clubs doing the same.
The course has become iconic for the start of the race which sees runners charging up a hill like something reminiscent of a battle charge, with the ground literally shaking underfoot.
First up for the club was Melanie Gould (U13) who ran a strong race and, having got slightly confused with the twisting course, found herself heading into the final field before she knew it and used some stored energy to take a number of girls in the final few metres to finish in 155th position out of 467 runners.
Sam Morrey ran in the U13 boy’s race, the race being Morrey’s first national event since moving up to the U13 category this season. Running the same course as Gould, Morrey fared well and finished the 3k course in 16:36.
The U15 girls ran a 4k course, with Rosie Cale being first home for the club in 19:00, Rositsa Gugutkova not far behind in 19:14. Lucy Green ran well to finish in 20:16.
Greg West found himself in the junior race, a 10k two lap course that made the most of the hills of Hampstead Heath. Despite the fact that he was at the bottom of the 17-20 age group West finished in the club’s highest position of the day in 94th in a time of 37:01.
When the ladies’ race started at 2.20pm, the course had been significantly churned up by the thousands of runners that had raced earlier in the day. With a record 1,113 ladies running, the fight for the race line was desperate. The runners found themselves not only fighting for places but in some places fighting to stay upright. Jenny Jeeves made it look easy, running the 8k course in a time of 35:07 and coming 173rd overall.
Zara Blower was next in for Leamington in a time of 37 minutes and 267th place. Courtney Thornberry ran well to finish in 41:16 (552) with Laura Gould (45:58) and Carol Blower (48:00) finishing in the top 900. The ladies team finished 53rd on the day out of 112 scoring teams.
The start of the men’s race saw 2,328 charging up the hill to get to the top and avoid the notorious bottleneck on the first bend before entering into a crowded 12k race. Callum Hanlon ran a strong race, fighting for his top 100 position in the fast downhill finish, Hanlon managed to come in in 96th place in a time of 43:23. Phil Gould, who had been struggling with illness during the week, was determined to race what would be his 11th national event.
An improvement in race fitness over the current season was frustratingly lost due to his symptoms but nevertheless he ran well and was able to enter into a sprint finish with ex club-mate Kev Hope (which Hope won). Gould finished in 47:43 and 390th place. Johnathon Brown was next in (52:43) with Charlie Staveley not far behind in 54:50; although only 2 minutes apart, the level of this race meant they were separated by 227 places. Marc Curtis was 5th counter crossing the line in 55:14 with Simon Perkin close behind in 55:50. The 6 men scored for the team which came 72nd out of 162 scoring clubs. Paolo Foglino came in at just under the hour in 59:53 with Sagar Depala finishing in 1:14:35.