On a bright, sunny but very cold afternoon, cross country runners turned out in droves to compete in the Saucony English National Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill Fields, London – a venue which many consider as the home of the sport. Overall the numbers finishing totalled an incredible 6444, up 1156 on the 2015 record!
Because of the distance to travel and the on-going hectic race schedule, the turnout from our juniors was understandably lower than normal. But we did have 5 young Harriers prepared for the long journey, eager to pitch battle against the best in the country. Here’s how they got on…..
Under 13 Girls First up, a young lady who has really flourished this season and whose face has made a regular appearance in the Junior Report (we’ve thought about giving her a regular slot!! ) Nothing was going to keep Gabby Hall away from this, her first National XC Championships, and as you would expect she performed to her usual high standard. In a massive field of 467 runners, Gabby finished a very credible 110th against some tough, more experienced competition. She completed the 3k course in 14:07 – to put that into perspective, she was only one minute off a top 20 position! Well done, Gabby, an excellent result!
Under 13 Boys Another young athlete who has also come into his own this season is Under 13 regular, Dylan Wilson. Dylan has donned the blue and white many a time, and even the purple vest of Durham running at County level as part of the English Schools competition. This was also his first National XC competition, and he performed admirably in an even bigger field than the girls, totalling 570 young athletes! He crossed the line in 209th place, in a time of 13:32. An excellent performance in your first national – well done, Dylan!
Under 15 Boys The Wilsons made it a family affair as Dylan’s older brother, Harry took part in the Under 15 race. Another regular competitor for Darlington Harriers, this was Harry’s second appearance at the National XC Championships. Last year the event was held at Nottingham and the distance was 3k, but this year, again at Under 15 that was increased to 4.5k. But that didn’t put Harry off – he put in a tremendous effort and finished 364th in another huge field of 504 athletes, crossing the line in 19:23. Great stuff, Harry, well done!
Under 17 Women This was the fifth appearance at the National Championships for India Pentland, now one of our most experienced junior athletes. In fact it was a return visit to Parliament Hill, as she ran here back in 2015 as an Under 15, where she finished a fantastic 39th! Hoping to improve on that this time, India started the 5k race well and everything was going according to her race plan – she was up with the leading pack of five. Then disaster struck, and she fell! India got straight up, gave chase, and eventually managed to catch up with the back of the leading pack.
Lady luck was not on her side today as disaster struck again, and once more India fell to the ground! This time she struggled to get to her feet, and try as she might she just couldn’t make up the distance in time. We know she wasn’t happy with the end result, but she still managed to fight her way back to finish in 21st place in a time of 19:46. Afterwards she said she had felt like dropping out, and who could blame her? But she didn’t, she battled on to the finish, showing true grit and determination – and who knows where she would have finished if it wasn’t for the string of bad luck? Well done, India, truly impressive!
Junior Women With a current UK Ranking of 8th for the half marathon and 5th for the 10 miles, today’s 6k run is a bit shorter than Jade Hutchinson usually favours. She started her competitive athletics a few years later than most as an Under 17, and this was her third appearance at the National Championships. She put in a great effort today against some high ranking opposition and finished the race in an excellent 89th place, crossing the line in 30:28. Great stuff, Jade, well done!
Congratulations to all our Junior Harriers taking part today. Top running from all, competing at such a high level. As always you have done your club proud! #UTH!