The 22nd Annual Cross Country Championships for clubs who are affiliated to the Merseyside CAA took place on a very cold,damp,drenched and eventually sunny afternoon in the delights of Sherdley Park just down the road from St Helens, the home of Super League and Glass!
Course wise it comprised of a long straight which had the starting area and an Aintree style elbow for the finishing mixed in with some real uphill and downdale sections that were almost roller coaster like in that the athletes had to work hard for the climb ups and then coast down which was sometimes tricky as the course got heavier thought the day, The uphill sections were so tough it made the ones at Carlisle,Cheltenham and Towcester seem like a gentle stroll in the valley!
Their was also a real heavy area near the skate park which was one the places to be during the day as the racing progressed.
Also five other clubs from outside Merseyside had runners today but they would not have been part of the actual Championship, they were from Leeds City AC,Hallamshire Harriers,Scarborough AC,Spectrum Striders and Warrington AC
In the Junior races that began the day we had first the U9-10 Boys and Girls race over 1.5km,these were not Championship races but a good chance for the younger brigade to experience a big race day, The girls were led home by T Dentith of Liverpool Harriers and the boys had a 1-2 for Southport & Waterloo with Sam Coupland and R Davies doing the honours.
G 9 ran,B 15 ran
U13 Girls and Boys races followed over 3km,firstly the Girls had a whitewash here with a 1-2-3 for Liverpool Harriers in Ella McNiven,winning time of 11m.58,Katie Miller and Niamh Donnelly getting the medals while the Boys race was a 1-2 for Wirral Athletics Club and runners J Quarmby and Thomas Clark coming home in 11m41 and 12m19
G 25 ran,B 20 ran
On to the U15 Girls and Boys then,they had 4km to cover this time, Once again it was a pure demolition job by Liverpool Harriers who this time got the 1-2-3-4 as Emily Gray led them home with Lucy Miller,Bethan Strange and Jessica Cook filling the placing,winning time of 15m28.
The Boys event had Daniel Slate for Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton AC wining comfortably, he pulled away from the field at halfway and took it in a canter of 13m15,Joseph Ford and Matthew Richardson got the other medals.
G 15 ran,B 28 ran
U17 and U20Women went off together as they covered the same distance of 4.6km,The U17 was in the hands of Rosie Johnson of a Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton and a time of 17m55s,as she battled through the now tough conditions as the rain made the course even heavier, the pursuers of Sophie Tarver and Hannah Delaney could not keep up with her as much as they tried to, The U20s only had three in it and E Kearney of Wirral AC took this easily in 19m exactly.
Below,Rosie Johnson,race action
Under 17 Men’s race over 6km was in essence a match race between Liverpool Harriers and Wirral AC as they were the only two clubs who declared runners here in a field of 11.
From the claxon we had two from each club who opened up from the rest as they went through halfway and going on the second downhill section of the course James Taylor of Wirral AC began to ascend and took victory in the end with a time of 21m36 from Thomas Rogerson of Liverpool H and Tom Clarke also of Liverpool H in third place, Clarke in third was very lucky as fourth placed Alex McBain of Wirral was chasing him down but to no avail.
Below,Halfway in the U17
W U17/20 9 Ran, B U17 10 Ran
The U20M was a 1-2-3 for Liverpool Harriers and not for the first time today too! Matthew Shirling took over the lead on the second lap and won easily from Daniel Jarvis who led over the first lap and a bit, Gregory Cooke kept the tricast up,Shirling won this in 26m13
M U20 9 Ran
So to the big two races of the day,firstly the Senior Women’s and they had a gruelling 8km to cover on a very churned and poached in places course.
This was without doubt the best race of the whole meeting for me, After the start the field got slowly whittled down and we had a leading group of four women who looked to be sticking the old Grand National method of “Hunt round the first circuit” before playing athletes on the second.
The group of Jenny Clague and Sophie Whiteside (Liverpool H), Alex O’Brien (Liverpool Running Club) and H Langham (Leeds AC) had opened up a nice lead from Catherine Howard (Knowsley H) going out into the country and half way on the last lap Whiteside had began to turn the screw on the other three and opened up a slight leade, Clague followed and they began to open up a nice gap from the other two.
Passing the skate part where I was watching Howard began to sense a medal chance and knowing a win was not going to happen found extra and closed up on the other two in third and fourth.
At the business end Whiteside came home first nicely ahead of teammate Clague and recorded a time of 31m33 while Howard ran her heart out and had the third spot which is what she fully deserved after that run.
Whiteside ahead of Clague
Brown gets a well earned third
Ladies 1-2-3 Medals.
At end of the race their was a sort of stewards enquiry,When I was making my notes at the finish point I heard an athlete who turned out to be Sallie Holt of Wallasey who admitted to the people at the finishing funnel that she took the wrong course so was removed from the final results, When I was out in the country for a few races I did notice a few runners almost go the wrong way so had to do a bit of arm waving and shouting which did the trick.
W 37 Ran
The Senior Men’s race over 12km was a mere formality for winner Richard Burney of Liverpool Harriers in 40m22,the only other athletes he passed were the ones that he lapped, J Donnelly of Wirral AC ran a good race in second but he was never going to catch the winner as was third place Patrick Vis of Southport Waterloo.
Below,Burney on his way to the win.
An easy win.
M 96 Ran
A very enjoyable post New Year event then here in Sherdley Park, I must give thanks to St Helens MBC for allowing the use of the park and the host club St Helens Sutton AC for being the hosts.
I only had one gripe and that there was no on site refreshment area for the supporters to get a brew but as many of us have ate and drank a bit over the festive period it wad probably not that bad and a chance to detox a bit!
All being well next Saturday will be Classic Chase Day at Warwick,the next athletics event will be the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham next month.
Until next time, Happy New Year to you all.