Saturday 26 March saw the National Cross Country Championship races for two countries in which BAC athletes were involved – in England at Parliament Hill, London and in Wales at Pembrey Country Park, near Llanelli.
Parliament Hill is well known for its mud, and this year was no exception. Eleven athletes wearing the familiar yellow and blue vest ran, sank, slithered, perhaps fell and completed the course in five different races, with some very good results. Perhaps the two BAC athletes who stand out are Harry Butcher, who was 81st in a field of 397 U13 boys, and Hugo Richardson, 65th of 413 U15 boys. Ladies’ captain Caitlin Peers also ran very well to finish 117th of the 1011 senior women who competed. The ‘Nationals’ at Parliament Hill is one of those races every athlete should run at least once in a lifetime. The atmosphere is unique with massive fields – the senior men’s and senior women’s races alone consist of over 3,000 competitors quite apart from all the other age categories, and the 2,000 or so senior men racing towards the first hill at their start is a sight – and a sound – which is quite unforgettable. The weather is always as it should be for cross country, namely awful, and facilities are limited, so the contribution of Simon Hearn and Simon Saunders, who came along with the BAC tent, and a point of refuge, really does make a huge difference to the wellbeing of the competing athletes, and is much appreciated.
So the full BAC results are: U13B: 81. Harry Butcher 13.18, 358. Jacob Green 16.22: U15B: 81. Hugo Richardson 16.08, (110. Oscar Newbery – 2nd claim BAC so running for NFR – 16.39), 195. Nathan Mearns 17.31: U15G: 208. Emily Coltman 20.49, 322. Mariah Marshall 23.25: JM: 210. Theo Weaver 48.36: SW: 117. Caitlin Peers 34.59, 422. Elissa Clark 41.03: 670. Lea Lohk 46.15.
Over the border in Wales, in what appear to be more benign conditions, the Welsh National Cross Country Championships were taking place near in Pembrey National Park. Competing in the very last race of the day, the U20 men, was BAC‘s Oliver James, taking full advantage of having a Welsh grandfather. Ollie ran the 7,360m course in 25.06, to finish an incredible 5th – a race which Ollie has rightly described as his ‘race of the season’. But this amazing result has only been achieved as a result of hard work. One only has to see Ollie in training to realise that this result was thoroughly deserved. Well done!