The sun shone out over London on Saturday afternoon as the National Cross Country Championships returned to Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath, having last been run there in 2018, and before that 2015 (some of us still have the memories)! It is a 12km race for the men and 8km for the ladies. It starts at the bottom of a hill and then when you get to the top, the paths turns into ankle deep mud, kindly churned up by the previous racers – so the men get it at it’s best, being the last race of the day! This year we fielded a full ladies team to represent Great Bentley – Vicky Presland, 381st in 40:18; Meera Rajoo-Oakley, 644th in 45:36; Lisa Briggs, 733rd in 47:32 and Sarah Davison, 859th in 51:22. There were 1010 runners and the ladie’s team came 85th out of 104 teams, excellent work in a national event! The ladies winner crossed the line in 29:00, and they also lined up alongside Georgia Taylor-Brown, who won gold and silver triathlon medals at the Tokyo Olympics. Georgia came 4th.
We had four men running this event too, six were needed for a team, but nonetheless they did a fantastic job too. Richard Heath, 572nd in 53:33; Craig Mitchell, 1571st in 1:08:29, Simon Leggett, 1683rd in 1:10:31 and Ashley Spooner, 1828th in 1:14:09. The winner of the men’s race won at Harewood in Leeds in 2019, and he was victorious again here in 40:52.
I took time, after the event, to read the ones to watch at this link https://athleticsweekly.com/event-news/who-what-and-when-guide-saucony-english-national-cross-country-champs-1039953960/ .
On Saturday, at the Lee Valley Velo Park, Gráinne Hallahan ran the Run Through half marathon event. This is a monthly event with different venues, and distances to cater for all runners. The Velopark course follows the one mile circuit used at the 2012 olympics. Gráinne used this as a training run and finished in 1:53:09. Well done!
Saturday saw many of you venturing to a parkrun, near, far or brand new! Sue Wray ran at the first Rendlesham Forest parkrun which looks to be a one lap route through the forest. Mark Jasper was first home at Clacton Seafront in a course PB of 18:07. The rest of the results can be seen here: https://www.parkrun.com/results/consolidatedclub/?clubNum=1475&eventdate=2022-02-26.
Sunday was seemingly another good day for running as there was an Essex Trail Event on Mersea Island. These are reasonably priced events, often starting near a pub, allowing runners and walkers to take part in trail running. Their website say they are now pre-book only events, but they have lots of different locations and distances throughout the year. The Mersea Mix was a 6.5 mile mixed terrain route. Paul Carlisle, Rodger Alexander and Michael Simmons were first home for Great Bentley in 1:02:18. Sue Wray was next in 1:14:25. Neil robins, Mark Crittenden and Leoni Harvey finished in 1:25:30.
Sunday also saw a good turnout of Bentley Blues at Tarpley 20. Surprisingly, we didn’t have any 10 mile entrants this year, with everyone opting for the 20 mile route. it is an undulating course, but it brought out some great running with 3 of our 7 runners recording PBs. Tim Ballard was first back in a new PB of 2:10:33, which also gives him a top ten performance for the club in that distance. This was a PB by 2 minutes, 13 seconds. Charlie Keitch went under 2:20 for the first time with a PB of 2:18:04. This was a PB of 2 minutes, 26 seconds. Paul Davison finished in 2:29:52 and Rob Dyer had a battle with the last quarter of the race but still finished in 2:46:16.
Magdalena Komorowska was first home for the ladies in 2:50:24. This was a PB. Hien Hoang ran her first 20 mile race in 3:06:12 and Caroline Talbot ran her first race at this distance too in 3:13:03, all excellent performances.