British Cross Challenge & Euro Trials roundup, Sefton Park – by Jamie Ingrouille 28/11/15
The past weekend saw Guernsey pitch a team of 10 athletes over to Liverpool to compete in the British Athletics Cross Challenge Challenge. Held at Sefton Park, the event is a honeypot for high-level athletes competing for international selection. Even behind them, the field is of an extremely high quality, including many of the UK’s top distance runners. The event would provide some useful high-level racing experience for the squad ahead of January’s Hampshire Cross Country Championships, as well as being incredible to spectate.
The U15 boy’s race kicked off at 12:45. Hugo Bisson was the sole Guernsey representative in this race and placed a respectable 79th in a field of 135 finishers.
The next race, the U17/U20 women’s race, saw Katie Rowe and Francesca Bown move gradually up the field to place 30th and 113th respectively. Rowe’s noteworthy performance made the top 20 of the U20 category, showing a strong return to form.
Alex Rowe placed 79th in the U17 men’s race, trailed for the whole race by Sammy Galpin, who finished just 2 seconds later and in 81st position.
After the initial few races, which were run in chilly yet relatively benign conditions, persistent rain and the shoes of hundreds of runners churned up the ground to leave extensive sections of mud. Consequent races played out to the individual strengths of athletes in dealing with tough XC conditions.
Danny Ray travelled across from Oxford to bring a third Guernsey vest to the U20 men’s race, alongside Dan Galpin and Chris Way. Ray finished a strong 60th, with Galpin coming home 40 seconds later in 89th and Way in 115th. Each of these athletes have 2 years left in the age group, with the potential for further development to push them further up the field. ‘I was very happy with the race considering a week of illness leading up to the event’ claimed Galpin, adding that he felt that he was ‘in good shape for the Hampshires in January’.
Up next for Guernsey was the senior women’s race, which was the penultimate race of the day. Two of Guernsey’s national level women, Sarah Mercier and Nat Whitty, toed the line amongst elites including World 5000m finalist Steph Twell and reigning Euro Cross Country Champ Gemma Steel. A lead pack of 5 assembled early on into the race with positions shifting frequently. Steel held off Kate Avery’s challenge to win the race outright. Nevertheless, our pair performed well, securing 46th (Sarah) and 64th (Nat) positions despite the competitive depth.
Guernsey didn’t send any runners over for the senior men’s race, however this didn’t mean the race wasn’t one to watch! Ross Millington came out top this year, eventually making a 13-second gap on Dewi Griffiths. Other high-pedigree competitors such as Jonathon Davies (first U23) and Tom Lancashire demonstrated the impressive standard of this race. With over 570 competitors, the strength in depth there was also strong!
Overall, Guernsey demonstrated an impressive range of performances across nearly all the age categories. This should bode well for the Hampshire Championships, where the club plans to send out full teams in hope of placing at county level.
power of 10 listing of results:- here