The English National XC Championship

It was a big day out for the KT Harriers with the lure of mud and a hugely challenging Cross Country course set in the heart of the Capital at the iconic venue of Parliament Hill Fields on Hampstead Heath. With 43 athletes competing in all of the AG for both men & women there was a coach laid on to transport athletes & supporters for one of the top races in the season.

The course which has a challenging hill (Parliament Hill) at the start and a series of inclines & decents throughout, and with parts of the course very wet conditions were very tough and with thick mud sapping leg strength few athletes enjoyed a really positive race on the day.

First race off was the U17 Women over 5km with Emily Williams leading the charge. Williams go off to a great start settling in in third place after the first mile, but as the race progressed Williams found the going tough dropping places and eventurly finishing in a very respectable 35th place in 20:10, some way down from her pre-race expectations, but the best position of the day for the Harriers. Williams race just didn't materialise and the course conditions did not suit, so she will hope for better fortune in the final two championship races of the season in March. Poppy Carmichael also didn’t enjoy the course and finished back further than would have been hoped in 159th (22:46), but she looked strong and has certainly shook off the early season virus. Harriett Jolley was the final Harrier in action finishing in a respectable 243rd (25:22).

Emily Williams highest position on the day, 35th in U17W race

Dylan Bowley leading the U15B charge was next in action, and he also was slightly down from pre-race expectation in 77th place over the 4.5 km course completed in 16:59 but none the less a highly respectable position. Also running for the U15 boys was Ollie Read who enjoyed a solid run in close contention with his club colleagues in 333rd (19:07), with Josh Geddes getting back to good form following a broken collar bone over the Christmas period in 356th place (19:18) & Josh Clutton just behind in 380th (19:31) completing the boys team who finished in 45th place. Ryan Raulia was also in action finishing in 439th place (20:24), with 504 athletes competing in total.

Harriett Round in her first National club championship ran a very respectable race as a bottom year athlete finishing the 3km course for the U13’s in 144th in 14:22, with debutants Izzy Brockway & Niamh Sinnott in 425th & 466th respectively.

In the U13 boys race over 3k with 570 athletes competing Lucas Rodgers was again top KTH scorer for the team, with a fine run for 121st, with great support from Jaocb Asher-Relf in 254th , George Separovic in 487th and Ben Booker in 526th resulting in a team position of 48th and with most of the team bottom year this was great experience for them.

Fynn Batkin, short on race’s this season due to an injury to ankle ligaments, raced well in the U17 men’s race over 6km to finish in the top 100 in 93rd place in 22:05 to top score for the team, with a trio of athletes packed together helping the team to a fine 30th place, Morgan Potter in 231st (24:17) with a solid run, followed by Josh Cannell in 241st (24:26), Tom Jaward in 258th (24:48) and Jack Watson close behind in 264th (24:55). There were 356 athletes competing.

Two of the best performances of the day came in the Junior Men & Women’s age group with a rare outing from Cambridge medical student Josh Cara for the U20 men running a fine race on limited training for a superb 53rd place over the gruelling 10k course in 35:46, with Edward Cannell the only other Harrier finishing in a respectable 194th position (41:39).

Josh Cara a fine 53rd in the Junior Men's race

Claudia Nevett, the first year Loughborough sports science student, seems to have settled well in her new surroundings and finished in an identical 53rd place (28:29) in the 6K Junior women’s race, her best showing at a National championship showing that she is back to great form, Nevett headed the U20W team to the best team position of the day, a fine 13th place with help from Sophie Moss who enjoyed a good run in 110th (31:39), with Bethan Lewis & Amy Robinson running well in 128th (33:38) & 131st (34:22) respectively.

Claudia Nevett with her best finish in a National Championship in 53rd place

The senior women’s race, the largest field ever with 1113 finishers was an opportunity for the KTH women to experience cross country at its best over the championship distance of 8km. The girls did great with the team finishing in a respectable 83rd position with Krisztina Kurutcz top scoring despite flying in from Switzerland in the morning and just making the start line in time with a super race to finish in 482nd position in 40:14. Kurutcz was supported well with vet Elaine Fairbrother in a fine 506th position (40:36) and the fast improving Sam Brockway third scorer in 806th place (45:35) & final scorer Babs Poncia with a solid run in 835th place (46:17). Three other SW braved the course with respectable runs from Trudi Pike 858th (46:51), Evelyn Clawson 920th (48:50 & Paula Sinnott 943rd (49:28).

The senior men’s race with a huge field of of 2300 finishers, one of the largest in over 10 years, was as spectacular as always, particularly the charge up Parliament Hill. The Harriers fielded a team of 11 athletes who were to experience a quagmire of a course churned up by the previous 9 races with the first 6 home contributing to the team position of 135th The impressive Steve Thompson was top scorer completing the gruelling 12km championship course in a fine 53:11, with great support from Phil Brigden in 1148th position (55:25), Martin Allinson 1329th (57:11), Ross Brown 1585th (59:59), Steve Sinnott 1681st (1.01:05) & Andrew Clawson 1764th (1.02:11). Ian Herne was just behind his club colleague in 1769th (1.02:04) and a rare outing for endurance coach Shane Smith just breaking the 2000 barrier in 1964th (1.05:52), with ever young Paul young 2105th (1.08:59), a first XC experience for Mark Brockway 2212 (1.13:22) & Ant Poncia in 2249th (1.16:15).

It was a memorable day out for many, and great to see so many Harriers in all the age groups competing, well done to everyone who ran.

Next on the XC calendar is the Inter-Counties UK championship in 2 weeks’ time in Loughborough.