The first major fixture of the British Cross Challenge series once again returned to Cardiff today for another fantastic renewal at Llandaff Fields in the heart of the city. Athletes of all ages from local clubs lined-up alongside international talents in the fixture which marked the third World Athletics Gold Label XC event. The slightly later date this year resulted in slightly softer conditions and made for an extra challenge. With a full programme of events, there was something for everyone throughout an exhilarating days racing.
The day also featured the second fixture of the John H Collins Gwent league as the league made its annual return to the capital, attracting runners from all around South Wales and the Southwest of England.
A competitive field lined up for the senior women with a host of international and domestic talent. Megan Keith took an early lead ahead of Amebaw and Anley of Ethiopia and She maintained this lead to win in impressive style by nearly 17 seconds. Leading the way for Wales was Jenny Nesbitt in 15th.
Jenny Nesbitt shared post race:
It was fantastic, honestly I think that this is the best that the event has been in all the years that I’ve done it and I’ve done it a lot of times!
Over the same 6.4km distance, the U20 men’s winner was Samuel Hodgson of Windsor & Slough, coming home in front of Swansea’s Dafydd Jones and Ashford’s Louis Small. The senior mens race featured star-studded international and domestic lineups with athletes such as Uganda’s Keneth Kiprop, Zakariya Mahamed, Marc Scott and Denmark’s Joel Lilesso. They were joined by X strong and an ever-larger Gwent league field. It was indeed Kiprop who took the lead as the race progressed, holding a commanding position by the halfway point. Vincent Mutai closed the gap as the race approached the final stages before Kiprop was able to hold on to win in a close finish which was a sensational end to the day’s racing.
Leading home the Welsh contingent was Swansea Harrier’s Dewi Griffiths, finishing 25th in what was a very strong international field.
Dewi Griffiths shared:
It’s great to be back, running the Cross-Country in Cardiff! Its always a great event and it was nice to see everyone and all the local clubs across South Wales and then you’ve got your global stars. It’s a real leveller of where you’re at!
Kicking off the action at just after 11am was the Under 11 Girls race over 1250m. Madison Kindler of Brentwood Beagles came home in front, followed by Roni Kohring of Shrewsbury AC and Darcie Collins of Poole AC. In the boy’s race, Sebastian Palmer of Wolves and Bilston took the victory ahead of Bristol and West’s Charlie Barnes and Neath Harrier’s Jack Woodhouse.
Shortly afterwards we progressed to a competitive U13 girl’s race, where Maisie Mullett took first place as Isla Bater of North Devon and Kara Gorman of Chiltern Harriers followed up in second and third respectively. In the U13 boys, Cardiff Archers Lucas Howard Howard-Machado became our first Welsh Winner of the Day, winning in front of Edward Salter of Taunton and Sam Deery of Giffnock North.
Next was a hotly contested U17 men who took on two medium laps. In an exciting sprint finish after a fast start Alex Lennon of Sutton and District prevailed, leaving Oscar Schofield of Sale Harriers to settle for second and Carmarthen Harriers’ Iwan Thomas with the Bronze Medal.
Next up, the combined U17 and U20 women’s race made for an intriguing encounter. Innes Fitzgerald of Exeter took an early lead and stormed home to win the race by nearly 60 seconds. She was followed by Lizzie Wellsted of Colchester and Jess Bailey of Leven Valley to complete the U20’s podium. The U17’s was won by Blackheath and Bromley’s Eliza Nicholson.
An impressive performance landed Olivia Forrest of Brentwood Beaglesthe victory in the U15 girls, ahead of Swansea’s Libby Hale and Lincoln Wellington’s Ellarose Whitworth.
Meanwhile in the U15 Boys there was little to separate the top three as Evan Grime of Salford Harriers took the win with just a few seconds advantage of Giffnock’s Calum Dick and Blackheath’s Joseph Scanes.
Relive the day’s action here:
As a brand-new event for 2023 for the first time in its 26-year history, the Cardiff Cross Challenge 2023 featured the exciting addition of an elite mile supported by Sportshoes.com. The start of the women’s race saw Hannah Irwin of Cambridge and Coleridge take a commanding lead to win the inaugural event ahead of Lily Hawkins of Southampton and Reading’s Lauren Church.
The conclusion of the proceeding men’s SportssShoes Elite Mile featured a close finish with Birchfield’s Tom Dodd getting there ahead of Great Yarmouth’s Tyler Billyard and Cambridge and Coleridge’s Alexander Melloy.