UK Counties Athletic Union - Cross-Country Inter-Counties Championships 2018

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It was a double Golden Day for Cornwall Athletics in the mud at Prestwold Hall on Saturday as Grace Brock and Maisey Luke saw off National level competition to win the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships. This was just part of a highly successful trip to Loughborough for the Cornish teams as the season reaches it’s climax with just one major Championship remaining. 

Without doubt, this has been the worst winter for muddy courses and the parkland surrounding the Hall was no exception. Athletes and spectators alike faced deep clawing mud for this annual Championships seeing winning times minutes slower than last year at the same venue. However, both Grace and Maisey made light of the conditions as they faced the cream of Counties throughout England together with Regional teams from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Grace had the added incentive of double points as this event was also the final fixture in the Cross Challenge Series which she already led in the Under 17 age group. But she still had to face the best opposition at any of the previous venues and produce the goods when it mattered. She left her telling break until half way through the second lap, gradually moving away from the others to cross the line 20 seconds clear of the Cheshire Champion. With a huge smile on her face she couldn’t believe how well she had run, clutching the trophies and prize money for the Cross Challenge win.

Over the one lap 3000m course, Under 13 Maisey had a tough challenge to face but had the confidence of winning the National Clubs Championships at Parliament Hill just two weeks before. It was a cagey affair with no clear winner going into the final long muddy straight. There was confusion for the announcers as a late finishing Under 20 from the previous race got mixed up with the chase to the line but there was no denying the 3 second margin to give Maisey her win and the County’s second Gold medal of the day.

With over 300 athletes in most races and 42 Counties / Regions, any top one hundred finish is a major achievement and the Duchy had several achieving this goal. The Senior races attracted top International athletes and facing up against these big names was Eleanor (Elsie) Davis. Elsie is no stranger to high level performances but she was more than happy to be in the mix with these Internationals and produce a 13th placing in the tough conditions. Having struggled to get a Senior team out for a few years it was pleasing to see a full compliment and high finishes for Heidi Tregenza at 69th and Emma Stepto at 90th.

Going one place higher was Under 20 Katie Hughes back to her best again after a disappointment at the South West Schools. She looked much happier and made her intentions clear from the start. Always in contention with the leaders she was overjoyed with her 12th position. Also in a top 50 finish in this race was Sian Temple at 46th.

The highest scoring team was no surprise with talent right through the eight man squad, the Under 17 Men were looking for a top five placing. They missed this target by just one place but had all four scoring athletes inside the top 50 despite an incident that saw Finn Birnie having to go to the medical tent at the finish. Sam Goodchild has been on tremendous form this winter and he pulled off the race of his life to bring the team home at 21st. Birnie still finished second in the team at 36th with Jacob McAlhone 42nd and Abhik Gupta 44th. All four were within 39 seconds of each other and with Bradley Stevens at 63rd he made the strong back up place if needed.

Other top 100 (or close) County finishers were:

Senior Men – Jordan Clay 108th (Dan Nash, competing for South Wales finished 59th)

Under 20 Men – Aidan Kent 77th

Under 15 Boys – Rees Stewart 53rd; Edward Mitchell 85th; Benjy McCartney 98th

Under 13 Boys – Tyler Gregory 123rd; Luke Mills 129th

Under 17 Women – Imogen Wood 84th; Louise Mitchell 86th; Ellen Kenny 103rd

Under 15 Girls – Choire Lister 79th; Grace Davidson 100th; Tilly McDowell 121st

Many of the younger  athletes will be travelling to Leeds this weekend, competing in the National Schools Championships.