National XC Championship – Bolesworth Castle, Chester – 25th February 2023

Report by Graham French

A group of ESM’s young athletes travelled to Chester at the weekend for the English National Cross Country championship, testing themselves against the best in the country.

The undoubted stars of the day were our two under 13 teams who recorded our best results in those age groups for over a decade, both teams finishing in the top 15.

The venue was impressive, with views across Wales, and Snowdon in the distance. The course was mainly flat, dry for the time of year, & fast. The sun occasionally peered out from behind the mass of grey clouds.

The under 13 girls team, currently in top spot in the North West London League, were keen to see how they would fare against teams from all over England. Over 330 were entered in the race. The ESM girls all started strongly – Alya Johnson trying to keep in touch with the leading group, with Ella Smith, Zoe Crichton & Sophia Sargeant all packing well in the top half of the race. All four had an excellent race, making up places as they progressed, although in a couple of cases losing a little ground in the final 200 metres. Alya finished a superb 35th, Zoe 133rd, Sophia 145th & Ella 146th. This gave the team 11th place out of a total of over 60 complete & incomplete teams. 

Zoe, Alya, Ella & Sophia

The under 13 boys also sit at the top of the North West London League. Over 350 from over 75 teams were registered to run in their race.  Jack Hayward was the first ESM athlete, running strongly in a race where several of his rivals towered over him, and came in 85th. Leon Boulting, running his best race of the season, also finished in the top 100 in 93rd place. Marcus Muers ran very well finishing in 144th & the team was completed by Oskar Parker in 179th. The team placed 15th. All four team members are in the younger age group, & top 10 has to be the target for next year!

Jack, Oskar, Marcus & Leon

The under 15 boys race started with a full ESM team. The course was 4.2k, just a little longer than in our local leagues, but the boys gave it their all. Junias Lee, only recently recovered from a broken collar bone, was first for ESM in 214th place, but sadly does not appear in the official results due to a chip malfunction. Kian Jordan was not far behind, running strongly to finish 224th. Noah Levy  left everything on the course & finished an excellent 257th. The fourth team member, Elliot Edgar, had some chest problems & was forced to pull out with most of the race completed. It was still a gutsy performance from all four.

We only had two under 15 girl athletes. Eve Sennis gave it everything but was a little hampered by a bad stitch. She nonetheless finished strongly, in 214th place. The indefatigable Diya Siyani came in 285th.

The under 17 women were also short of a full team – by one athlete. Long distance specialist Nicola Hewitt continued her recent run of fine races with a top 100 finish, in 92nd place. Rosie Hewitt, whose main focus is now sprinting, was just over a minute behind in 126th, with fellow sprinter Reha Siyani in 196th.

Our junior women put out a full team – 3 to score – & all ran well, with Katie Hay leading the team home in 83rd place, Midnight Adams 96th & Charlie Cooney-Quinn 109th. The team placed 16th. Our only junior man, Oscar Jones, had a great run to finish 49th.

With a strong under 11 group moving into the under 13 age category later in the year, & with all our young athletes moving through the age groups, the future of middle & long distance running – both track & cross country –  at ESM is looking very healthy .