As the temperature drops and the nights draw in, athletes and coaches at Lincoln Wellington Athletic Club start to look forward to the cross country season. The highlight of the season for many is the English National Cross Country Relays that take place in Mansfield every year, just a short drive away from Lincoln.
Hear from Lincoln Wellington member, Rhiannon Philps as she shares her excitement ahead of the weekend.
Athletes of all ages from under-13s to seniors love to race at the National Cross Country relays, with many returning year after year to battle the elements at Berry Hill Park and test themselves against the best clubs in England. The chance to compete against athletes from up and down the country doesn’t happen very often, and the chance to do so as a team is even rarer, which makes these relays such a special event for many people.
A highlight on the racing calendar
The relays have always been an important event on the Lincoln Wellington calendar, and, in recent years, we’ve sent at least one full team in most age groups. Many of the club’s younger athletes are keen to race, and competition to even get selected for a team can be fierce! Because the course distance for each leg is shorter than many other cross-country events (with most age groups racing over 2km or 2.5km), these relays often appeal to athletes who prefer shorter distances, as well as the long-distance specialists.
Our athletes love that the relays give them the unique experience of being part of a team. Athletics, and distance running in particular can be a solitary pursuit, but the relays allow athletes to join up with two or three of their teammates and race together.
There is a great atmosphere at the relays, once someone’s finished their race, they’re straight back out on the course cheering on their next leg runner. The races are often extremely close, which makes for a day full of exciting competition.
Supporting the junior athletes
This year we have entered at least one relay team in each age group up to and including under-17. We’ve built up great strength and depth in our junior squads, with some athletes starting to help coach the funetics sessions for younger children. This is testament to the club’s coaches and volunteers who have spent countless hours ensuring our young athletes have the opportunity to try out new events and develop in their athletics journey.
Success for Lincoln Wellington over the years
The relays are a key part of this journey for many athletes and, as well as a lot of fun, the club has also had several success stories over the years. We’ve won several medals at the Northern Cross Country Relays and our senior women’s team made the podium at the 2021 and 2022 National Cross Country Relays. Abbie Donnelly (Rob Lewis), who recently competed at the World Half Marathon Championships, was part of the team on both occasions, and she’s entered in the team again this year. Abbie first competed in the relays back when she was an under-13, so many of our younger athletes are motivated and inspired by her progression.
The future of the club certainly looks bright and in October, our under-15 girls team (of Isla Porter, Mollie Grant and Ellarose Whitworth) put in an outstanding performance to win the National Road Relays in Sutton Park; building on their individual successes in the 2023 track and cross country season. All three are entered for the cross country relays and are hoping for another good run.
But, regardless of where our teams come in the results, the National Cross Country Relays continue to be a highlight for our athletes and showcases the fantastic team spirit the club has managed to build over the last few years.