A mostly sunny Llandaf fields in Cardiff was the venue for the first major fixture in the British Cross Challenge series yesterday with fields of athletes of all ages from local clubs running alongside international stars in this World Athletics Gold label event. The event included the first fixture of the long running John Collins Gwent Cross Country League attracting athletes from across South Wales and the South West of England.
Over 500 runners contested the Senior men and Masters race over 9,600m with fantastic representation from Gwent League clubs adding to the top class elite field which included Kenyan, Ugandan, Ethiopian, and Spanish athletes as well as high class British men. As the front group whittled down over the three long laps, it was only Leed’s Emile Cairess who was able to live with the blistering pace of the East African contingent as they entered the closing stages. Kenyan Edward Zakoyo showed his class to out sprint the Ugandan duo and take the victory, with Joel Ayeko in second and Rogers Kibet in third. Cairess held off Gizealaw Ayana of Ethiopia for fourth. First Welsh representative home was a clearly improving Ciaran Lewis of Les Croupiers who came in 14th.
A great turnout in the senior women’s race saw the top brits battle it out with Kenya’s Pamela Kosgei as a leading group of six broke away on the first of two long laps. As the second lap progressed it was Amelia Quirk who was left to take on Pamela, the pair still together going in to the last kilometre. In the end, Kosgei showed her class and powered away to take the win in 20:21. Bracknell AC’s Amelia Quirk was first British Athlete home in second place with Jess Gibbon of Reading AC finishing third. Elle Twentyman next in fourth, and Commonwealth Games 5000m representative for Wales, Jennifer Nesbitt closed out a high class top five.
The full programme of races had started at 11.30with the under 11 primary boys and girl’s races. First home in the girls’ race was Manon Phillips from TROTS, followed by Florence Rudkin in second, and Tabitha Curtis in third. In the boy’s race, Tomos Cai Davies of Carmarthen Harriers was the winner in an impressive 4:12 for the 1,250m course. Edward Stoate of North Somerset was next in ahead of Taunton’s Edwards Salter in third.
Next up was the first of the Cross Challenge series events which attract entries from across the UK. In a competitive U13 girls’ race, it was local Cardiff Athlete, Bryony Boyce who proved she is just as good on the grass as she is on the track. She came first over the line to claim a strong victory and was followed home by Olivia Paul and Sophie Maxwell, both representing Team Bath.
In an equally well contested U13 boys’ race, it was Rhuairdh Lang of Victoria Park City of Glasgow AC who had travelled all the way from Scotland and led for the whole race but was ultimately pipped on the line by Ewan Sparey of Bristol and West AC who claimed top spot after a sprint finish. Louis Hemmings of Peterborough & Nene Valley AC came in third.
The U17 men took on a two-lap course, and after a fast start, a group of four pulled away on the second lap. It was Isaac Morris of Cambridge and Coleridge who prevailed, pulling away to a comfortable victory and able to ease over the line. Next in was Will Rabjohns of Poole AC and third spot on the podium went to Carmarthen & District Harriers’ Iwan Thomas.
The U17 & U20 women ran together, and it was U17 Innes Fitzgerald of Exeter Harriers who took the race win and first place in the U17 competition. Second U17 was Zoe Gilbody and third was Jess Bailey. In the U20 women’s race Alice Bates of Kettering Town Harriers took the win ahead of Alice Garner of Aldershot Farnham and District, and Libby Huxley from Preston Harriers.
The talented Swansea Harrier, Libby Hale ran a controlled, impressive race to claim the win in the U15 girls ahead of Imogen Saunders of Wreake & Soar Valley, with Bethan Trow of Shrewsbury AC in third. Whilst n the boys U15 race, George Wilson of Cleethorpes AC was victorious in a competitive field of young talent from across the UK. Second place went to Matthew Clark from Preston AC, and third spot to Jon Pepin representing Southampton AC.
The U20 men tore up the 6,400m course, Edward Bird of Poole AC just edging out Ben Brown of Southampton by two seconds with a winning time of 18.49. Lewis Hannigan of Kilbarchan AAC was only just behind the front two finihsing third.