There was a record number of 167 teams entered for the women’s race. City of Stoke’s Kate Holt “won” the first leg ahead of Elle Vernon and Katie Bingle. The trio finished with the three fastest times of the day, albeit on the slightly shorter opening leg.
Aldershot, Farnham and District ultimately ran out race winners. It was their fourth title in five years. Emelia Gorecka handed over to Emily Hosker-Thornhill, who stretched the trio’s lead on Leeds City to a handsome 54 seconds at the finish.
The chase was on for AFD’s Ellis Cross on leg three in the men’s race – and boy was it a close run thing. Setting off six seconds behind, the 2017 BUCS 10,000m champion closed the gap to Tonbridge’s Ryan Driscoll to a mere second at the changeover.
Chris Olley then had the unenviable task of trying to fend off 2016 National XC champion, Jonny Hay. Common consensus goes that nobody beats Jonny in a sprint finish. Chris obviously hadn’t read the script, gapping Jonny with 500m to go before taking the tape a tidy 2.9 seconds clear.
Berry Hill Park in Mansfield lends itself to exciting relay action, for both the runners and those watching on the sidelines. The event was first held at the Nottinghamshire venue in 1991. The two-lap courses twist and undulate around smooth, grassy areas and wooded sections.
Tonbridge’s senior men were no doubt inspired by the medal-winning efforts of their junior cohort. The future at Tonbridge is certainly in safe hands. While Alasdair Kinloch, Jamie Goodge and James Puxty may have taken the gold medals – the club’s fifth successive win in this category – it was Archie Walton from Loughborough University who took the tape. The university outfit, though, was ineligible for medals.
The junior women’s race kicked off the day’s action at 11am. Fifty-seven teams entered the race – and 31 complete teams finished. Harriet Knowles-Jones was head and shoulders above the rest. The 19 year-old took her team, Warrington AC, from fifth up to first on the anchor leg in the fastest time of the day.
Full results here.
Words by Bo James
Images from Andrew Peat aka Sixth Counter