A team of John Stow’s intrepid young athletes travelled on Sunday to Cardiff to take up the British Athletics Cross Challenge. Under the watchful eye of Coach Steve Cody the team assembled in Blackweir Fields, eautiful parkland in the city centre along side the river Taff. Ready for a memorable day’s racing.
The course, which was in a much less boggy condition than last year, was nonetheless exciting, full of fast flats, steep banks and twists and turns, but soft underfoot compared to the frozen fields of Essex the day before. To quote young Nathan Wright after his inspection he declared it ‘’a perfect cross country course”.
First up were the U11 girls (photo below), a team brimming with confidence after their stunning Met league form, and who were right in the middle of the pack at the start of the 1700m course. As the field spread out, Kezia Beeton could be seen in the woodland holding nicely onto 10th place and she held it until the last 250m, where she unleashed an amazing kick, running down 5 athletes in the last 100m to take 5th for a time of 7’28”. The next Woodettes in were Larna Morgan and Holly Hudson, who were running together for almost all the race and came in 17th and 18th, just 24’ behind Kezia. Our team was closed with a great performance by Molly Wain, coming 36th out of almost 75 runners from all over the country.
On to the U11 boys race, Nathan Wright separated from his usual Met league stablemates by virtue of the rest of his team having turned 11, found himself alone but nonetheless determined. Nathan, who had come down with a cold on the Friday, still managed a fine performance. 2nd after the opening 1K, Nathan fell foul of a nasty tree root and took a tumble in the woodland section, losing momentum and about 7 places, but he got up and recovered to hold on to 8th place, with a great sprint stealing a place on the line.
Finally the U13 team, comprised of 5 boys (top photo) running some one and two years below, squeezed into position on the very narrow start line jostling with the other 60-odd, many of whom were almost a head taller.
For almost 3/4 of the 3km course, Jimmy Geller and Maxwell Chinn jockeyed for position, disappearing in and out of the woodland and changing positions several times. First in, however, was Jimmy, who had managed to get away, just, from Maxwell and who finished 19th in 11.42, very happy with himself, and two years younger than many in the race. Maxwell was next just, two seconds behind (photo above) in 21st, again very pleased with his run. Third home was James Brigstocke-Williams, who had moved forward from his 35th position at halfway, showing he had a lot more left in the tank, to finish 25th 11’52”. Sid Cody, now a Cross Challenge veteran, was next home in 12’41” taking 52nd place and closing the team. We must spare a thought for Dylan White who, on just returning from an ankle injury, was very badly spiked at the start, and was unable to continue.
The day’s racing gave the youngsters invaluable experience in high quality competition, and as they rise to the top of the U13 over the next couple of years they will be a force to be reckoned with.