ECCA Cross Country Relays
There was great competition for the medals and throughout the fields as the National Cross Country Relay championships were held at Mansfield.
Morpeth came out on top of a thrilling men’s race that epitomised much of the action of the day.
After just over an hour of racing it was exactly a second that separated the North East club from Highgate Harriers. While the home straight battle saw Nick Swinburn (Coach: Lindsay Dunn) hold off the challenge of Andy Maud there had been drama all the way. Both clubs had moved their way through on last leg with swift times of 15:06 and 15:10 as Steve Mitchell (Coach: James Thie) of Bristol & West had led at the start of the stage and ran in exhausted in sixth having worked to hold off the challenge that came from Swinburn, Maud, Tonbridge’s Kieran Reilly (Coach: Mark Hookway), Liverpool Harrier’s Matthew Jackson (Coach: Bud Baldaro) and then Jack Morris (Coach: Dave Turnbull) of Stockport.
But of course that last lap finale had been teed up by what went before. Morpeth had seen Lewis Timmins’ (Coach: Lindsay Dunn) first leg backed up by a 15:09 from Jonathan Taylor (Coach: Gordon Surtees) before the seemingly ever present Ian Hudspith clocked 15:42 to hand over 5th at the back of a line of teams that looked set to content the medals. For Highgate it had been Chris Rainsford (Coach: Ben Pochee), Shaun Dixon (Coach: Ben Noad) then Audun Nordtveit who had the team always looking strong contenders for at least a medal and possible title contenders. They went into that last stage in third.
Jonny Davies (Coach: Rob McKim) had put Reading in the lead after two legs with an impressive 14:53 blast around the course, but from half way looking at the positions on the course and names to come on the team sheets gave the suggestion that those half a dozen or so clubs who were so close at change over after three legs would be the ones contesting gold. Dan Cliffe had put Liverpool Harriers into second going into last leg with a 15:21. Meanwhile National Six Stage road relay champions Tonbridge had the look of a team whose success in the junior ranks is now transitioning fully to senior level with athletes coming through the ranks comfortable with being at the sharp end of races. They never dropped out of the top four at any transition. Kieran Reilly who ran anchor at Aldershot once again put in a strong and composed last leg performance of 15:37 to take the last of the medals from Liverpool.
The women’s race was also a thriller. Even within the last leg the medal positions changed a number of times and it was only coming out of the dips towards the finish that Rachael Bamford (Coach: Mike Baxter) made the move that finally ensured gold for Leeds City as she went past Beth Potter (Coach: Mike Woods) who made it silver for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers ahead of Aldershot Farnham & District. It was Louise Small (Mick Woods) who got AFD into the medal positions for the first time on that last leg after Steph Twell (Coach: Mick Woods) had clocked a 9:42 on second leg to lift them from 15th to fourth.
Also charging through the field on last leg were Sonia Samuels who moved Sale to fourth with a 10:02 and Faye Fullerton (Coach: Georgina Fullerton) who put Havering fifth with her 9:50.
As the first stage of all the races is run over a shorter distance the times are not possible to compare directly. But the first leg had been a competitive one with Elle Vernon (Stockport, Coach: Steve Vernon) first back in 9:29 ahead of City of Stoke’s Kate Holt (Coach: Alan Morris) in 9:37 and Shaftesbury’s Naomi Taschimowitz (Coach: Charlotte Fisher) who also clocked 9:37. Leeds’ Emma Clayton (Coach: Andrew Henderson) had made sure the eventual winners were always in contention from the opening leg with a 9:39 before handing to Claire Duck (Coach: Mike Baxter) who continued the Leeds/ Shaftesbury battle against Rachel Felton (Coach: Chris Frapwell) on the second leg before the medals were finally decided in the last possible moments.
Tonbridge put in an impressive performance to take the Junior title. They were led off by James West (Coach: George Gandy) who came home second, two and a half seconds adrift of first leg leader Kieran Wood (Cambridge & Coleridge, Coach: Mark Vile). From there Corey De’Ath put them into the lead with an 8:59 leg before Chris Olley (both Coach: Mark Hookway) clocked 8:50 to make gold certain.
Matt Shirling (Coach: Adrian Webb) ran a 8:45 last leg to take Liverpool Harriers up into silver medal position and Gus Cockle (Coach: Mick Woods) finished Aldershot Farnham and District’s progression through the field to take them to bronze with an 8:47 last leg. Once again the medals were closely contested with Bracknell, and the University of Birmingham also to the fore. Southampton were lifted from 13th to second on the second leg by an 8:49 from Peter Haynes coached Mahamad Mahamad.
Harriet Knowles-Jones of Warrington (Coach: Paul Roden) led home the first leg of the junior women’s race ahead of Amy Griffiths (Coach: Mick Woods) with an impressive 7:56 to 8:19. But as there were no further Warrington athletes it was AFD who were into the lead straight away on the second leg and they never looked back. Daisy D’Santos (Coach: Mick Woods) extended the lead with a 9:04 clocking as Ruth Sinclair (Coach: Peter Nixon) moved Stockport into second. Those positions remained unchanged on the last stage as Mollie Williams (Coach: Dave Turnbull) ran an 8:51 for Stockport while Grace Baker (Coach: Mick Woods) went even quicker with an 8:38 for AFD to make for a convincing margin of victory. Behind them Loughborough Students AC won the battle for bronze with Georgie Hartigan clocking 9:00.
Under 17 Men
Tonbridge added the Under 17 title to their junior win as Ally Kinloch moved the team from second to first on the final leg. Bedford and County had looked strong throughout with Stan Willis (Coach: Colin Lancaster) getting them away in second place on first leg before Will Mullins (Coach: Simon Goodwin) moved them into the lead. It was a swift 9:06 last leg from Kinloch that saw him pass Ben Davies (Coach: Simon Goodwin) to take gold as Cambridge & Coleridge’s Rob Huckle (Coach: Mark Vile) moved his club into third place with a 9:09 after Jordan Wood (Coach: Mark Vile) had put them fourth on stage two.
Under 17 Women
The Under 17 women’s race was another to provide great excitement. Aldershot Farnham & District lay 13th after the first leg before being moved to third by Lucy Pygott (Coach: Mick Woods) running an 8:53 on the second stage. With Kelsey Fuss (Coach: Andy Frankish) having put Blackheath & Bromley in the lead after two legs, ahead of Charnwood, before handing on to Katy-Ann McDonald (Coach: Phillip Kissi) the race was all set for an eventful last leg. Jess Rattray held on to third for Charnwood as Niamh Brown (Coach: Mick Woods) overhauled first her and then Katy-Ann with an 8:40 leg to give the title to Aldershot, Farnham & District.
Under 15 Boys
Bracknell ran out winners of the Under 15 Boys race with Harry Digby clocking a fast 6:16 last leg to take the club from fourth into the gold medal positions after the first two legs from Aaron Enser and Max Cooper (All coach: Paul Daly). Alfie Bould (Coach: Andy Carter) had put Vale Royal into second place after two legs and that was the position they held on to as Ben Lee (Coach: Andy Carter) ran a 6:36 last leg. Fergus McAuliffe (Coach: Vince Wilson) kept Charnwood AC in the medals with a 6:41.
Under 15 Girls
Herne Hill Harriers took the lead on the second leg of the Under 15 Girls event with Lucy Olson (Coach: James McDonald) and Alex Brown ensured the lead was retained with a 7:03 last leg (both other Herne Hill athletes clocking 7:07). Liverpool Harriers lay second after two legs with Faye Ireland running a 7:11 and then Ella McNiven’s 7:04 anchor leg (both coach: Lynn Webb) meant that Alex was given no opportunity to back off as she took the gold for the London club. The bronze medals were won by the Manchester Harriers trio of Alice Stiles, Grace De Campos and Emily Hughes.
Under 13 Boys
It was a 1-2 for Aldershot, Farnham & District with the team wearing the B numbers taking the win. Edward Henderson (Coach: Trevor Raggett) put the B-team into third behind Woodford Green With Essex Ladies and Kendal after the first leg and Alfie Spear (Coach: Trevor Raggett) then took them into the lead. Harry Hyde moved the A team from 13th to sixth and while Ryan Martin (Coach: Ian Jennings) ran a sharp 7:03 final leg it was Bailey Roberts who crossed the line ahead of his team mate to give his team the gold medals. Herne Hill took the bronze medals with Jacob Solon, Jaden Kennedy and Jacob Harrison (all James McDonald).
Under 13 Girls
The Herne Hill trio of Jess Tabraham, Lulu King and Maisie Collis (all coach James McDonald) took the Under 13 Girls title having moved into silver medal position on the second leg and then seeing Maisie’s fast 7:19 clocking being enough to take her into the lead and the team to a seven second winning margin. Blackheath & Bromley’s Jessica Neal (Coach: Mick Jones), Morgan Squibb and Ellie Dolby (Coach: Jay Galley) moved up a place every leg to take second place. Ipswich Harriers team of Holly Fisher, Tilly Aldis and April Hill (all coach Stephen Hicks)were making the same progression one place behind for a bronze medal winning performance.
Full results are available below and via the English Cross Country Association Website at http://www.englishcrosscountry.co.uk/category/relays/results-relays/
Please note with regards to fastest legs the start position for Leg 1 of each raceis different to subsequent legs.