West leads Leamington C&AC charge up Parliament Hill in the Nationals

Callum Hanlon and Leamington C&AC clubmate Phil Gould in the early stages of the Nationals. Picture submitted
Callum Hanlon and Leamington C&AC clubmate Phil Gould in the early stages of the Nationals. Picture submitted

The sun shone on the Saucony National Cross Country Championships on Saturday, held on Parliament Hill with central London emerging out of the mist on the skyline.

The course has become iconic, not least for the start which sees runners charging up a hill like something reminiscent of a battle charge, with the ground literally shaking underfoot.

First up for Leamington C&AC was under-13 Mel Gould who ran a strong race and, having got slightly confused with the twisting course, found herself heading into the final field before she knew it. Taking advantage of her energy reserves, she passed a number of girls in the final few metres to finish 155th out of 467 runners.

Sam Morrey ran in the under-13 boys’ race, his first national event since moving up to the under-13 category this season.

Running the same course as Gould, Morrey fared well and finished the 3k in 16min 36sec.

The under-15 girls ran a 4k course, with Rosie Cale first home for the club in 19:00, 14 seconds clear of Rositsa Gugutkova.

Lucy Green ran well to finish in 20:16.

Greg West found himself in the junior race, a 10k two-lap course that made the most of the hills of Hampstead Heath. Despite being at the bottom end of the 17 to 20 age group he finished in the club’s highest position of the day, 94th, in a time of 37:01.

By the time the ladies’ race started at 2.20pm, the course had been significantly churned up by the thousands of runners who had raced earlier in the day.

With a record 1,113 ladies running, the fight for the racing line was desperate and the runners found themselves not only fighting for places but in some places fighting to stay upright.

Jenny Jeeves made it look easy, however, the masters woman running the 8k course in a time of 35:07 to finish 173rd overall.

Zara Blower was next in for Leamington in a time of 37 minutes for 267th place. Courtney Thornberry ran well to finish in 41:16 (552nd), with Laura Gould (45:58) and Carol Blower (48:00) finishing inside the top 900.

The ladies’ team finished 53rd on the day out of 112 scoring teams.

The start of the men’s race saw 2,328 runners charging up the hill to get to the top and avoid the notorious bottleneck on the first bend before entering into a crowded 12k race.

Callum Hanlon ran a strong race, fighting for his top 100 position in the fast downhill finish to come 96th in 43:23.

Phil Gould, who had been struggling with illness during the week, was determined to race what would be his 11th national event.

An improvement in race fitness over the season was frustratingly lost due to his symptoms but nevertheless he ran well, finishing in 47:43 for 390th place.

Johnathon Brown was next for Leamington in (52:43), with Charlie Staveley not far behind in 54:50. However, the level of the race meant they were separated by 227 places. Marc Curtis was C&AC’s fifth counter, crossing the line in 55:14, with Simon Perkin (55:50) completing the scoring team, which finished 72nd out of 162 scoring clubs.

Paolo Foglino (59:53) and Sagar Depala (1:14:35) completed the Leamington contingent.

Kenilworth Runners were well represented, with 24 runners taking part.

There were some very good performances across the board but particularly from the scoring men’s team and the youths.

Ben Taylor was first home for the senior men and 242nd overall in 46:01, with Kev Hope just pipping Leamington C&AC’s Phil Gould to the line to finish 386th in 46:01.

Andy Crabtree (560th in 49:34), Wayne Briggs (774th in 51:45), Matt Dyer (853th in 52:36) and Neil Cressy (1,338th in 57:16) completed the 60th-placed men’s team.

Selected others: 1,426, Stewart Underhill (58:10); 1,547, Chris Lyons (59:33); 1,762, Barry Elkington (62:08); 2,097, Craig Phillips (68:48); 2,320, Tom Dable (1:30:44).

Senior women : 467, Jane Kidd (40:04); 752, Elisse Breuglemans (44:37); 967, Kerrie Flippance (50:04); 1,089, Pauline Dable (59:59).

Junior men: 142, Stanley Doxey (38:49); 216, Ryan Baker (46:38).

Under-17 men: 212, Oliver Flippance (23:47).

Under-20 junior women: 122, Bella Doxey (32:44).

Under-15 boys: 288, Billy Doxey (18:42); 311, Sam Croutchley (18:52); 409, Ryan Hill (19:57); 450, Jacob Watson (20:43); 451, Kyran Kirk (20:44).

Three Spa Striders were also racing, with Dan Fleming their only male representative, finishing 1,369th in 57:29.

Claudine Piper (43:10)and Giulia Patelli (51:41) ran the ladies’ race, coming home in 670th and 999th respectively.