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27 February 2018

English National Cross-Country Report (Juniors and Seniors)

English National Cross-Country Championships 2018

Saturday 24th February, Parliament Hill




A large group of Trafford young athletes travelled to London last Saturday to compete in the National Cross Country Champioships at the iconic venue of Parliament Hill Fields.


Conditions on the day were cold and windy, although the hilly course was not as muddy as it has been on previous occasions.


Our highest placed finisher was Mac O'Malley who finished in an excellent 34th place in the Under 20 race, just reward for his dedication and commitment to the sport. Mac had not finished in the top 100 in his 2 previous National appearances. Returning from injury, Matt Sutton did well to come through to 78th place out of 220 finishers. 


Xav O'Hare battled to a great 40th place in the Under 17 race. After a season blighted with injury, it was good to see him finally show his true potential. The other Under 17s found the going tough in a field of 356 finishers. However, they all completed the course with Cynog Williams 152nd,  Jack Wilkinson 192nd,  Harry Sinclair 200th and Connor Fazakerley 214th. This gave them an overall 19th team position and 4th Northern team.


Another outstanding performance was from Joe Bentall coming home in 63rd place in the Under 15 race, exactly 100 places higher than last year in the same age group. Another athlete who has had recent illness problems, he showed signs of his best form returning once again. On this occasion, he was well ahead of his team mates, although Theo Symons Treacher ( 113rd), Joe Mangan (121st) and Alex Bailey (169th) still all finished in the top third of the field.  Tom Bentall, ever present and supportive, ran solidly to finish 395th out of 504 finishers. The Trafford team were an excellent 11th in the race,  2nd Northern team.


Finally, Charlie Massey was our sole athlete in the Under 13 race. He finished 382nd, but still managed to beat nearly 200 other runners in his race!



The Trafford women's team comprised Sue Exon, Louise Mangan, Sally Woolhouse and Mel Monks.  They formed part of a remarkably large field - 1113 strong.


Ruth and Vicki were unfortunately injured but their fond reminisces of Parliament Hills past were fuel for the tanks of Mel and Louise, both undertaking the course for the first time.


It was Sally, however, who led the ladies home.  Her experience of the challenging gradients and cambers like a Damoclean sword served well, as she placed 336th.  Just 25s behind Sally’s 38:10, was Mel Monks in 365th.  That's a top performance from Mel who looks to be finding some very good form.  Louise kept her cool in the crowded field as she placed an impressive 493rd with 40:21 over the 8km.  Sue brought the team home, posting a time of 47:30, which put her 873rd.  As the women separated to destinations as exciting as the League Cup final and a Shoreditch night out, they should feel proud to have got their team to 64th in the country.


While many a knight has graced the Medieval battlefield that once stood at the race's start area, few would have looked as menacing as Jeff and Simon as they lined up for the senior men’s race.  Jeff had a solid run, leading the duo in 539th and finishing the 12km in 49:21.  Taking care of a gammy hammy, Simon was 767th in 51:38.  With the Nationals in Leeds next year, the closer proximity may entice the six Trafford men needed for a senior team.


That's it for the seniors in cross-country this winter.  The Northern Road Relays are Sunday 25th March in Birkenhead.


Looking Back

2015 was the last time the Nationals were held at Parliament Hill.  On that occasion three Trafford men competed, first finisher Dan Ansell has moved home and club; Jeff learnt to get a quick start to avoid the bottleneck, and Paul Mannion has been a key member of the area league team this winter.  In the senior women's race, Vicki, Ruth and Sue did us proud.  On that occasion there were a mere 865 finishers.


Neil Canham (Juniors), Simon O'Meara (Seniors)


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