Twenty-one of our young athletes had an early start heading for the National Cross Country Champs at Donington Park in Leicestershire, while three of our senior men had a slightly more leisurely journey, making their own way up to the venue for their 3pm start. Cold, bright weather and good ground on the hilly course made conditions ideal for racing. Some races saw record numbers in the biggest club fixture of the Cross Country season.
The programme kicked off with the U17 women’s race over 5k, where Laura Stewart led the club home in 142nd. Roisin Lynch was 213rd and Jenny Connelly 232nd, but unfortunately we didn’t close a team, with Nicola Ravenhill withdrawing mid-race due to a hamstring problem.
Next up was the U15 boys’ race over 4.5k. We fielded a team of six – our largest squad of the day. In a field not far short of 400, Naoki Kanai came in 232nd, Ilyes Iman 256th, Kane Foster 301st, Sudeys Hersi 314th, Davide Lamagna 359th and Chauncey Edwards 363rd. The team as a whole finished 33rd.
U13 Fiona Coutts was next to tackle the course, battling in an even larger field over the 3k route. She finished 303rd, but was our only representative in that age group.
We had three girls running the 4k course for U15s. Anisa Ibrahim came in 159th, in the top half of the field. Novice Estelle Belgrave was 308th in only her second cross country race and Sarah Freegard was 345th. As with the U17 women, we were one short of a full team.
It was the same story in the 10k race for U20 men, where we had three good juniors but lacked the fourth member needed to close a team. Mukhtar Farah finished a very respectable 69th, followed just over a minute later by Manish Kunwar in 93rd, with Raunak Mainali in 129th.
Our other complete team was the U13 boys, who finished 40th overall. Newcomer Arun Manget led the boys home in 274th position. Mahiis Hersi came in 281st, Mikey Kouwiloyan was 320th and Matteo Lamagna 340th.
Rob Brown, Phil York and Steve Plested braved the 12k race for men which concluded the day’s racing. Rob managed to finish 849th – just inside the top half of the massive field of over 1700 – Phil was 1383rd and Steve was 1530th.