In more recents times Lee Merrien has been focussing on coaching and even organising the popular Zedra Primary School XC events but as a late entrant to the club’s championships he showed that despite officially retiring and also entering the veteran’s category he is still a major force as he cruised to a 90 second victory over the 5 lap / 7 mile event. (image Phil Nicolle).
It is perhaps overlooked that it was his cross country performances that earned him his first GB selection and despite having not raced competitively since the 2018 Commonwealth Games he is clearly still in good enough shape to clean up domestically.
Under Merrien’s tutelage Sarah Mercier was a double track gold medallist in the heat of Gibraltar’s Island Games and showed she is at home on all terrains with a comfortable win in the 5.6 mile women’s race in 39 minutes 36 seconds. Louise Perrio just edged out Nicole Petit for second just outside 44 minutes. Petit has been training consistently over winter with a longer term eye on triathlon but had a great race to claim her podium place. Ahead of Mercier in the joint Under 20 Men’s / Senior Women’s race was 18-year-old Ethan Woodhead, with Mikey Ingrouille and Isaac Powers placing second and third juniors.
Despite the recent wet conditions the going on the challenging Norgiots course was firmer than the first running of the course in 2018 but the hills and ‘mud-trench’ towards the end of each lap made for classic cross-country terrain.
Behind Merrien’s 42 minute 28 second victory last year’s champion James Priest was clear in second whilst Sam Lesley improved on his 4th placing of 12 months ago to claim the final podium spot, although he was more than 4 minutes behind Priest. After time out of racing since his marathon debut in October, Jamie Ingrouille had one of his best XC races to date and claimed 4th.
A new feature of the race program was an intermediate distance ‘Sportive’ event held over 3 laps of the 1.4 mile circuit. The improving Tom Nichols was first home ahead of more established athletes Tom Shaw, Danny Blake and Adie Lihou.
Chris Bain was the winner of the U17/U15 2.9 mile race from budding triathlete Thierry Le Cheminant with Summer Woodhead and Lottie Smith the first two girls.
Video Footage – also including U13, U11 and U7 events here:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgff7Gcafjo
Thank you to the many volunteers that ensured that this championship event ran smoothly.
The club is hoping for volunteers to assist with the staging of its popular and inclusive Boxing Day and New Year’s day events – please volunteer here.