Leamington C&AC’s Williamson leads England team to cross-country gold

Monica Williamson on her way to a fourth-placed finish for England in Derry. Picture submitted
Monica Williamson on her way to a fourth-placed finish for England in Derry. Picture submitted

Leamington C&AC’s Monica Williamson led the England team to W55 success at the 30th running of the British and Irish Masters Cross Country International in Derry, Northern Ireland.

Williamson, who was representing her country for the eighth successive year in the competition and tenth overall, made her usual steady start before using the second lap to work her way through the field.

Bethan Gwynn and Mel Venables with Broadway Marathon winner Rachel Masser.

Bethan Gwynn and Mel Venables with Broadway Marathon winner Rachel Masser.

The well-planned 6k course in the grounds of Gransha Park had been soaked from days of rain and began to cut up by the last of the three 2k laps.

Nevertheless, Williamson passed a considerable number of athletes in younger categories to finish 52nd overall in 25min 15sec.

The W55 race was won by Scotland’s Fiona Matheson in 23:36, with Williamson’s fourth place in the category helping England pip Ireland to gold by just a point.

Williamson, who gained selection on the back of her excellent individual gold medal in the British Masters (BMAF) National Cross Country championships and a silver medal on the track in the BMAF 5000m Championships, will now concentrate on the cross-country league campaigns as she builds up for the British Masters Cross Country Championships in March.

Bethan Gwynn claimed a superb second place in the Broadway Marathon on Sunday, pushing fellow Spa Strider and ultra specialist Mel Venables down into third.

Shortly after a dramatic Cotswold sunrise, the marathon set off with a real chill in the air and it remained cool throughout, despite glorious blue skies that showed off the scenery beautifully.

Recent rain ensured the off-road course was muddy and heavy going.

Gwynn confirmed her recent good form with a time of 4hr 11min 4sec - an improvement of 20 minutes on her previous run there - to finish 14th overall and second lady.

Venables was just over a minute back in 4:12:18, with trail marathon debutant Anne Hurrell (4:24:21) an impressive fourth lady.

Matt Leydon (5:08:48) and Lucy Tugwell (5:13:10) were next to finish, with Andy Pope, Amanda Wiggins and Pete Schofield crossing the line together in 5:37:18.

In the half-marathon, runners raced hard from the start and Chris McKeown (1:38:04) had an excellent race to finish fourth, five minutes clear of his nearest rival.

Keith Wilson (1:47:45) was 11th, while Rich Sykes (1:52:01) and Rob Mantell (1:58:37) also ducked under two hours.

Sandra Stokes (2:23:27) was first in her age category, with Dave Lithgow (2:41:08) and Kathleen McCann (2:55:53) completing the Spa Striders contingent.

Kenilworth Runners’ Neil Smith (30th in 2:08:49) and Mel Knight (79th in 2:53:43) also took part in the half.

Meanwhile, Wayne Briggs was the first of six Kenilworth Runners to complete the second race in the five-race Tempo Winter Series, the Ilmington 10k.

Briggs finished sixth overall in 40:48, his best time in the clockwise direction of this extremely hilly route that includes Larkstoke Hill.

Dave Pettifer won the V65 category in 48:23,finishing just 20 seconds clear of his nearest rival, while Pauline Dable (67:32) won the LV65 prize.

Simon West was first home for Leamington C&AC and 20th overall in 44:33.

Spa Striders’ Simon Parsons finished with a course PB of 44:11, while Lorraine Parsons also ran a course best, finishing in 56:36.

The race was won by Dean Clark of Massey Ferguson in 37:06 and there were 208 finishers.

Selected other finishers (Kenilworth Runners unless stated): 27, Andrew Higgins (Leamington C&AC, 45:49); 71, Roger Fagge (Leamington C&AC, 51:53); 98, Christopher Lyons (55:46); 106, Sonya Tate (56:54); 110, Wendy Woodhouse (Leamington C&AC, 57:08); 128, Tara Fagge (Leamington C&AC, 58:36); 136, Thomas Dable (60:01).

Kenilworth Runners’ Andy Siggers won the Run for Rotary Draycote Water 10k on Sunday, finishing more than five minutes clear of the second-placed runner Eddie Page (Loughborough Students AC) in a time of 34min 19sec.

Siggers has now won the first two races in the three-race winter series around Draycote Reservoir.

Clubmate Darren Pettifer finished 11th in 43:21, while Samantha Moffat was 51st and 12th lady in 53:59.

Leamington C&AC’s Caroline Coward was the third lady and 13th overall in 43:43, with clubmate Alex Montgomery first M60 (21st overall) in 46:47.

Meanwhile, Spa Striders’ Andy Roach (1:36:35), James Civil (1:45:33) and Ellen Powell (2:29:17) all made the journey to the south coast for the fast, flat Gosport Half Marathon.

Clubmate Hazel Mann ran a new personal best at the Milton Keynes MoRun 10k, coming home in a time of 56:01.