The English contingent travelled out to a sunny Spain last weekend to compete in the 41st edition of the Cross Italica in Seville. Now part of the World Athletics Cross County Gold Level series, this prestigious race moved to earlier in the calendar this year which proved advantageous for the English athletes who will be battling for GB spots at the upcoming Liverpool British Cross Challenge on the 25 November.
In the men’s race Ellis Cross (Aldershot, Farnham & District, Andrew Hobdell), Jacob Allen (Highgate, Steve McGowan), Jack Gray (Cambridge & Coleridge, Mark Vile) and Callum Elson (Cambridge & Coleridge) lined up against an incredibly strong field over what was to be a 4-lap, 9.9k course held in the grounds of an ancient Roman dig site.
The English team took positions close to one another at around 20th place after the initial sprint off the start line had settled. This didn’t change a great deal during the first lap of 2.2km as the race snaked its way along the various turns on the course.
On the 2nd lap it was evident that many positions were now established as Cross moved up to 18th while Elson and Gray were only a few places behind back in 21st/22nd. Jacob Allen had to unfortunately withdraw from the race during the 2 lap due to illness.
With 3 laps completed, Cross had manoeuvred his way to 14. A battle on the last lap saw him move to 13th and even contend 12th place. The battle between Gray and Elson was won by the more endurance-based Gray in 20th with Elson (recently 2nd in the inaugural official World Road Mile in Riga) 23rd.
Senior men’s results
- 13th: Ellis Cross - 30:37
- 20th: Jack Gray – 31:02
- 23rd: Callum Elson – 31:15
- Jacob Allen DNF
With a contingent of East Africans in the field it was inevitable the race would set off at a fast pace. The English team of Amelia Quirk (Bracknell AC, Mick Woods), Kate Axford (Belgrave), Sarah Astin (Belgrave, Geoff Watkin) and Phoebe Barker (Tonbridge, Richard Owen) were sensible to stay off this pace and all ran with the second group. As the race progressed the group started to break up with Amelia making her move followed by Kate, Phoebe and Sarah.
The East African nations topped the rankings taking the first five places with the Spanish athlete just pipping Amelia Quirk to the line as she would finish in 7th place. Kate Axford followed just 12 seconds behind to take 8th, and Phoebe Barker came home in a respectable 12th. Sarah Astin was unfortunately unable to complete the race.
Senior women’s results
- 7th: Amelia Quirk – 35:13
- 8th: Kate Axford – 35:21
- 12th: Phoebe Barker – 36:12
- Sarah Astin DNF
The English quartet of Rowan Miell-Ingram, Noah Campion, Joseph O’Connell and Ethan Primett dominated in the junior men’s race completing a clean sweep of 1st to 4th place. From the start of the three-lap race, the team quickly exerted the pressure on the field. Leading into the penultimate lap Rowan, Joseph and Noah opened a 10 metre gap on Ethan, who also had 30 metre gap ahead from 5th place.
Into the final 600m Rowan pulled away from Joseph and Noah, both having a great tussle to the line with Noah just pipping Jospeh, and Ethan coming comfortably 4th. It was a great day in the Seville heat and great international cross country debuts for Ethan, Joseph and Noah.
Junior men’s results
- 1st: Rowan Miell-Ingram – 13:11
- 2nd: Noah Campion – 13:13
- 3rd: Joseph O’Connell - 13:13
- 4th: Ethan Primett – 13:45
The junior women’s team of Holly Weedall (Vale Royal, Andrew Carter), Pippa Roessler (Aldershot, Farnham and District, Mick Woods), Lucy Armitage (Sale Harriers, David Rodgers) and Bethan Homer (Wreake & Soar Valley, John Skevington) had a sensational race with all four of the team finishing in the top 10.
When the race started Holly immediately established a good lead dictating the pace followed by Pippa approximately 20-30 metres behind, Lucy was next and a little detached was Bethan. By the end of the second lap Pippa had joined Holly and Maria Viciosa Villa from Spain was chasing behind. Lucy was established as a clear 4th and Bethan 7th.
Going into the final lap Holly pushed on into pole position but it was quite close as Maria passed Pippa and was putting a lot of effort in to try to close the gap on Holly as she held on for 3rd place. Lucy was a little tired towards the end of the race and was unable to hold off Beatrice Periera from Portugal who finished 4th, Lucy finishing 5th and Bethan finishing 10th.
Junior women’s results
- 1st: Holly Weedall – 15:11
- 3rd: Pippa Roessler – 15:25
- 5th: Lucy Armitage – 16:10
- 10th: Bethan Home – 16:45