Mercier shines amongst solid Guernsey performances at misty Sefton – Words Jamie Ingrouille, image Darren Lewin.
Saturday saw eight Guernsey athletes travel to Liverpool in the hopes of doing their island proud in some high-level cross country competition.
Louis Le Cheminant kickstarted GIAAC’s success by finishing 47th in the 3-km U15 men’s race. After hanging back through the ‘really fast start’, Le Cheminant was the overtaker rather than the overtakee and finished just a minute behind the leader.
A dependable trio comprised of Alex Rowe, Joe Yeaman and Sammy Galpin represented Guernsey in the 5.5-km U17 men’s race. Rowe was 20 seconds clear at the lap point but Yeaman and Galpin worked together to close the gap slightly over the second lap. Rowe finished 63rd with Yeaman’s strong finishing kick earning him 69th over Galpin’s 70th. ‘(Galpin) definitely gave me a little bit of life to kick on’ added Yeaman.
Four Guernseywomen were amongst the near-300 athletes who toed the start line of the 8-km senior women’s race, amongst greats such as 2014 European cross country champion Gemma Steel. As Steel worked towards what would become her fourth consecutive victory on this course, Sarah Mercier moved up through the field to take 28th place. It is worth noting that Mercier’s finish time was within 80 seconds of Steel’s. ‘I started off fairly conservatively and picked people off which was quite nice – better than I was expecting’ says Mercier, whose buildup was challenged by illness.
Predictably, Louise Perrio (82nd) was the second Guernsey woman to finish. Behind her had emerged a compelling battle for third. Relative newcomers Laura McCarthy and Jenny James stuck together for the majority of the race and finished so closely that neither knew who had crossed the line first. Officially, McCarthy came out top by a very small margin and in 103rd place overall.
While it was undeniably cold, the lack of wind or rain meant that the course flowed very well. Several athletes took a minute or more off their previous times for the course – a sign that consistent hard work in training is reaping rewards.