South West Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships, Exeter Race Course 8th January 2017 - Report
Virtually flat and fast is not the description most Cornish Cross Country athletes like to hear but that is what they faced when the South West Inter Counties Championships moved to the Exeter Race Course venue on Sunday.
However, the athletes responded and thrived in the competition provided by this annual fixture, producing two individual, two masters and four team Gold medal performances.
Under 15 Boy, Harris Mier was the first of the winners. Predictably, he took the lead from the early stages and was never troubled throughout the race, finishing 13 seconds clear of the rest. His win was backed up by Jacob McAlhone (9th), Rees Stewart (13th) and Benjy McCarthy (15th) for an emphatic team victory.
Combined with the Under 15 Boys were the Under 17 Women, They emulated the Boys with the second team win of the day. Grace Brock came up against two of the Country’s finest athletes in Hannah Hobbs and Grace Copeland but chased them all the way to the line for the Bronze medal. In her best race of the last two years, Katie Hughes was close at fourth, Sian Temple was 7th and Nell Savage just ahead of a small Cornish bunch at 16th.
The Under 17 Men’s team was always going to be hard to beat and the race opened up with eight Cornish athletes at the sharp end. Aidan Kent and Finn Birnie took up their usual close club and County rivalry which everyone looks forward to. Kent was marginally ahead of Birnie at the start of the second large lap with Devon and Dorset athletes poised to challenge. With viewing across the race course and surrounds difficult, it appeared that one had tripped and it proved to be Kent. His trip in a rabbit hole could be a costly injury as all the major Championships loom but Birnie overcome the shock of seeing his team mate on the floor in agony to push ahead and built up a massive lead over the other athletes for a 16 second win. He headed up a victorious team win with James Greenwood at 5th, Kristoff Klymek 8th and Alexander McCartney 11th.
The other team win came from one of the best Senior Women’s squads assembled by the County. There were doubts that the team would repeat their performance of last year after a few injuries but all seemed to be back close to their best as Eleanor Davis took on Wiltshire’s, Ruth Barnes over the two course lap with these two well clear by the second lap. Barnes was always in control but Davis was happy with her Silver medal performance and leading a strong Cornish contingent to team victory. Tess Masselink also took Silver in this race, competing for the Senior team but taking the Under 20 medal at 5th overall. Emma Stepto was one of those in two minds about her fitness but took the F45 Masters Gold medal at 8th, Amy Sole was 9th, Heidi Tregenza 11th and Lucy Hodgson 14th.
Other medal winners for the County were: Under 13G Maisy Luke – Bronze (2nd team); Senior Men – a clean sweep of M45 masters medals with Colin Snook Gold, Paul Whear Silver and Paul Smith Bronze. The team were second with Mark Jenkins 5th and Peter Le Grice 7th