There has been plenty of cross country running activity involving BAC athletes recently, including the Dorset Schools Championships in Kings Park on 19 January, the Southern Championships in Beckenham Place Park on 28 January, and on 4 February both the SE Schools Inter Counties at Reigate Priory and the BUCS Championships at Pembrey Country Park, Wales. On 4 February the South West Schools Championships also took place at Bristol.
There were many excellent BAC performances in Kings Park when the Dorset Schools AA held its Cross Country Championship in Kings Park on Thursday 19 January and, in mentioning some of them, that is in no way to take away from the achievements of all the athletes. There were two winners on the day, Connor Grocott in the Minor Boys category and Isla May in the Primary Girls. Second placings were achieved by Finley Hurst Atkins in the Primary Boys and Isabel Cherrett in the Junior Girls, whilst Isaac May (Junior Boys), Seni Purnell (Junior Girls) and Seb Crowe (Senior Boys) were all fourth in their respective races. The full BAC results are set out below, although this information has been obtained trawling through the results, so sincere apologies to anyone who may have inadvertently been missed. Results (BAC Kings Park 19 January): Senior Boys (U20/U17): 4. Seb Crowe 24.47, 8. Sam Rayner 26.32; Senior Girls: 17. Neve East 18.45; Inter Boys (U17/U15): 20. Alfie Stopler 20.59, 23. Ewan Brown 21.13, 33. Harry Butcher 22.20, 59. Thomas Massie 24.27, 63. Ben Worsley; Inter Girls: 17. Emily Coltman 16.54, 25. Laras McKenna 17.43, 30. Matilde Blagden, 36. Ida Waring, 45. Mia Richardson, 46. Mariah Marshall; Junior Boys (U15/U13): 4. Isaac May 14.42, 12. Harry Butcher 15.24, 13. Oliver Canavan 15.26, 19. Oliver Thomson 15.51, 27. Jake Selwood 16.15, 70. Steven Kiff, 17.31, 80. Alfie Weston; Junior Girls: 2. Isabel Cherrett 11.49, 4. Seni Purnell 12.25, 13. Esmee Hurst Atkins 13.24, 47. Hannah Shane 15.02, 56. Katie Kilburn 15.20; Minor Boys (U13): 1. Connor Grocott 11.38; Minor Girls: 34. Jessica Long 11.32; Primary Boys (U11): 2. Finley Hurst Atkins 9.23, 24. Benjamin Trimby 10.24; Primary Girls: 1. Isla May 9.49, 5. Ava Richmond 10.35.
Nine days later, on 28 January, the Southern Cross Country Championships were held at Beckenham Place Park, Beckenham, historically in Kent but now part of Greater London. This event at one time was a major fixture for BAC, particularly when it took place at iconic venues such as Parliament Hill, but recently for some reason which isn’t entirely clear interest has dropped off, and this time there was not one single senior/veteran man taking part. Nevertheless congratulations to all who did compete, particularly Isabel Cherrett who was 14th U15 Girl of 184 and also Hugo Richardson and Seb Crowe, 64th and 76th respectively in a field of 168 U17 Men, and Harriet Slade, 107th of 418 Senior Women. Results (BAC Beckenham Place Park 28 January): S/VW: 107. Harriet Slade 32.16, 194. Sian Mcilwaine 35.05, 230. Kirsty Drewett 36.19; U17M: 64. Hugo Richardson 20.16, 76. Seb Crowe 20.27, 130. Sam Brewer 21.48; U17W: 112. Mariah Marshall 30.47; U15B: 184. Oliver Canavan 17.41; U15G: 14. Isabel Cherrett 16.02.
Not long afterwards Hugo Richardson was again in action on 4 February at the South East Schools Inter Counties Cross Country at Reigate Priory. Hugo competed in the Inter Boys and excelled himself to finish 14th of 93 competitors in a time of 21.34. Hugo was competing for Hampshire and his race was surely a major contribution to Hampshire‘s 2nd placing of 12 teams. Hugo said of his race “muy bien”, with every justification!
On the same day Ollie James (pictured at the head of this article, third from left) was competing for Durham University at the BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) Cross Country Championships at Pembrey Country Park, Wales. Ollie showed that he is thriving at university by finishing 79th of 256 competitors in the ‘mens long race’, a distance of 10.5k in a time of 36.17 despite tripping in the first 100m. Ollie then made his way through the pack and justifiably describes himself as “pleased with the final result”. As with Hugo at Reigate, Ollie surely contributed very significantly to Durham University’s final team position of 8th.
Also on 4 February, amongst the BAC athletes competing at the South West Schools Championships at Blaise Castle, Bristol were Connor Grocott and Isabel Cherrett who flew round their respective courses to finish, respectively, 3rd and 4th Minor Boys and 9th Junior Girl. In the case of Connor, his run was an important part of Dorset being the winning Minor Boy team, and Isabel helped her team to 3rd. Another team member was Seb Crowe, 20th Senior Boy, part of the Dorset team which was 2nd. Congratulations also to the other BAC athletes who travelled to Bristol – Oliver Hill, 50th Intermediate Boy, Isaac May, 34th Junior Boy and Emily Coltman, 52nd Intermediate Girl. Don’t forget that these championships are attended by schools from all over the south west, in huge numbers, with massive fields in each race, so finishing positions in the 50s are still impressive performances. Information about these championships isn’t easy to come by, so sincere apologies to anyone inadvertently omitted.