Gemma Steel and Jack Gray take Midland cross-country titles


Experienced athletes add to their growing list of titles at Leamington Spa in Warwickshire on Saturday

Jack Gray regained the senior men’s title that he had won over a similar Newbold Comyn course in 2019, while former European champion Gemma Steel continued in her purple patch and led her Charnwood club to another team victory.

The going was sticky but not too muddy, apart from a nice water feature near the finish, but the laps were significantly shorter than the advertised distances. Notably the senior women’s race was won in 24:29 for the supposed 8km while the men’s 12km was won in 32:09; so they were more like 7.3km and 11km respectively.

Jack Gray (Martin Duff)

Most team golds went to Wreake & Soar Valley’s younger runners with four golds and a silver.
One good feature noted by many was the cancellation of the Leamington parkrun that was due to compete over much of the same terrain.

Senior men
Gray led throughout the men’s race and, after crossing the line said that he was determined to score a repeat win at this venue although the laps here were significantly different to those used in 2019. Construction of a cyclo-cross course on the steepest hill was given as the reason.

“I was going to give it a good try today,” said Gray. “I came here to win, or die trying.”

Sam Moakes was always second during the race and had hoped to lead Notts to a team win but they were narrowly headed by Bristol & West, who had Kurt Taylor and Jack Millar in ahead of Notts’ second man, top veteran Alastair Watson.

Conspicuous by their absence in the team competition were Leamington breakaway combo Western Tempo.

Jack Gray (Martin Duff)

1 J Gray (C&C) 32:09; 2 S Moakes (Notts) 32:41; 3 K Taylor (B&W) 32:55; 4 J Millar (B&W) 33:06; 5 A Watson (Notts) 33:12; 6 L Gratton (Rugeley) 33:16; 7 C Main (Chain) 33;19; 8 M Davis (B&W) 33:23; 9 C Davis (BRAT) 33:36; 10 G Bearmore (Worc) 33:44; 11 F McGrath (B&W) 33:48; 12 J Tuffin (Brat) 33:56; 13 E Smith-Rasmussen (Newark) 34:00; 14 D Hallam (Wreake) 34:05; 15 C Hanlon (Leam) 34:05; 16 M Campion (Notts) 34:08; 17 O Jones (B&W) 34:09; 18 G Phillips (Notts)34:21; 19 C McMillan (Weston) 34:27; 20 B Musgrove (R&N) 34:34; 21 A Peacock (BRAY) 34:42; 22 L Vine (Tip) 34:44; 23 E Banks (Bir) 34:45; 24 C Smith (Notts) 34;50; 25 J McGraw (BRAT) 34:58; 26 L Pollard (Charn) 35:03; 27 J Bennett (Bir) 35:08; 28 W Gardner (R&N) 35:08; 29 H Lupton (Charn) 35:14; 30 J Stollberg (Brat) 35:18
TEAM: 1 Bristol & W 88; 2 Notts 98; 3 BRAT 138; 4 Tipton 299; 5 Coventry G 331; 6 Rugby & N 380; 7 Leamington 395; 8 Newark 446; 9 Charnwood 482; 10 OWLS 541

Senior women
There was a tighter competition at the front of the women’s race as both Julie Emmerson and Amelia Samuels tried to break clear on the first of their two laps, before Steel stamped her authority to win by 60 metres. At the tape the 36-year-old celebrated with her now trademark double arm salute that has featured in all of her numerous individual and team wins this winter.

After the first part lap, from their start on the far side of the course and well away from the finish area, Emmerson tried to break clear across a dip in the ground but it was to no avail but she held on to second head of Samuels, as Chelsea Baker led in the rest albeit well down.

Senior women’s start (Martin Duff)

Steel said of her run: “I didn’t get into race mode for quite a while and felt a bit tentative going into the ditches, but then got switched on.”

Emmerson said: “I tried to stick with her for as long as possible,” as Samuels said that it was only “her second race after a stress injury.”

Charnwood were pushed all of the way by Coventry Godiva, but had 2019 winner Juliet Potter home in fifth to help seal their win.

But why was the start for every race so far away from the finish when there was adequate space for a start much nearer the end of the laps.

1 G Steel (Charn) 24:29; 2 J Emmerson (Cov G) 24:41; 3 A Samuels (W&B) 24:54; 4 C Baker (B&W) 25:34; 5 J Potter (Charn) 25:43; 6 N Bartlett (Race Hub) 26:07; 7 A Belcher (W’boro) 26:10; 8 H Robinson (Bir) 26:14; 9 D Sherwin (Stoke) 26:14; 10 A Flint (Cov G) 26:32; 11 M McDonald (Leam) 26:34; 12 E Smith (Charn) 26:42; 13 M Browne (Brat) 26:44; 14 P Oliver (Cov G) 26:45; 15 M Blake (Leam) 26:49; 16 C Martin (Telf) 26:54; 17 R Gifford (Leam) 27:07; 18 J Sanzo (B&W) 27:18; 19 A Jackson (Leic C) 27:17; 20 A Starling (Cov) 27:28; 21 B Tabor (W&B) 27:29; 22 E Negus (Nun) 27:38; 23 S Munday (W’bury) 27:39; 24 A Seager (Charn) 27:50; 25 C Baldwin (Bir) 27:57; 26 Z Hadfield Leam) 28:03; 27 K Barnett (W’boro) 28:09; 28 E Albery (Kett) 28:14; 29 C O’Donoghue (B&W) 28:19; 30 M Mastrolonado (W&B) 28:22
TEAM: 1 Charnwood 42; 2 Coventry G 46; 3 B&W 88; 4 Birchfield 98; 5 W&B 130; 6 BRAT 155; 7 Leamington 182; 8 Kenilworth 248; 9 Trentham 300; 10 Telford 313

Under-13 girls
The younger runners had been away first on the overcast day and it was they who marked out the best racing line over the obstacles and particular over the ugly looking water feature nearing the end of the lap.

Whilst the under-13 girls’ winner Maisie Mullett was safely over the obstacle, a daring push from Phoebe Langlands saw her come to grief whilst challenging for the lead. A loss of momentum resulted and she fell back to fourth by the finish.

Four of the top five were from Wreake & Soar Valley so all was not lost, as both Mullett and Langlands scored.

Mullett’s verdict on the course was noted as she said: “it was really tiring and stodgy.”

1 M Mullett (Wreake) 9:33; 2 M Davis (Banb) 9:40; 3 L Power (Wreake) 9:43; 4 P Langlands (Wreake) 9:49; 5 A Towlson (Wreake) 9:49; 6 O Very (Chelt) 9:49; 7 M Don (Charn) 9:55; 8 F Wheeler (Charn) 9:56; 9 E Avery (Chelt) 9:57; 10 S Eagland (Chelt) 9:57

TEAM: 1 Wreake 13; 2 Cheltenham 38; 3 Charnwood 55; 4 Stoke 92; 5 R&N 97; 6 W&B 132

Under-13 boys
The under-13 boys followed and Ewan Withnall tracked the girls’ line through the hazard before Noah Homer started another Wreake gallop to the team title.

Withnall said: “We were together until the last bit.”

Ewan Withnall (Martin Duff)

1 E Withnall (Burt) 8:32; 2 N Homer (Wreake) 8:39; 3 L Howard (Telf) 9:00; 4 K James (Wreake) 9:01; 5 O Lockton (charn) 9:03; 6 W Reddish (Notts) 9:11; 7 W Hughes (W&B) 9:13; 8 L Boyce (Burt) 9:16; 9 A Williamson (Strat) 9:18; 10 M Muddle (Charn) 9:19
TEAM: 1 Wreake 43; 2 Charnwood 45; 3 Stratford 64; 4 Burton 76; 5 RSC 123; 6 Telford 140

Under-20 women
The first two in the under-20 women’s event fought out a close race before Georgina Campbell got the better of rival Beth Rawlinson but neither featured in the team stakes as Charnwood took the team award.

1 G Campbell (Strat) 19:30; 2 B Rawlinson (W&B) 19:41; 3 C Marshall (Strat) 19:55; 4 S Duval (RSC) 20:13; 5 O Bailey (Nun) 20:23; 6 L McLoughlin (Charn) 21:06; 7 R Timlock (Wreake) 21:19; 8 K Parker (Charn) 21:24; 9 B Wallis (Harb) 21:50; 10 A McCann (Charn) 22:16
TEAM: 1 Charnwood 24; 2 Bromsgrove & R 42; 3 Cov G 63

U20 men
It was even closer in the junior men’s race where Skip Snelson had to follow Notts’ Mirhawi Tkue before going away near the end for a 20-metre victory. The Loughborough based triathlete has high hopes of a good career in the three-discipline sport and admitted to walking the five minutes from his lodgings to the pool at 6am on most mornings.

Snelson said: “I was with him for the first half a lap then gave it a go and got 15-metres up but then he got five-metres, I then pushed at the last corner.”

He added that the BUCS Championships was next for him.

1 S Snelson (Banb) 22:35; 2 M Tkue (Notts) 22:39; 3 M Price (Bir) 22:46; 4 T Bentley (Tip) 22:58; 5 C Neece (Wreake) 23:11; 6 L Richardson (B&R) 23:25; 7 L Buttrick (R’cliffe) 23:34; 8 M Banks (Tip) 23:42; 9 T Stubbins (Strat) 23:46; 10 L Finch (Saffron) 23:50
TEAM: 1 Tipton 52; 2 Stratford 68; 3 R&N 71

Under-17 women:
Zoe Gilbody, the under-15 winner last year, was the class athlete in her race and came away with the biggest winning margin of the day, all of 79 seconds over Emily Symes. Gilbody easily led Wreake & Soar Valley to team gold.

The double champion said: “I was with the pack on the first lap and it was a good course,” before revealing that she now trains five or six times a week but with just one session.

Races come thick and fast at this time of the year and she goes again on Wednesday in the King Henry VIII relay.

1 Z Gilbody (Wreake) 16:53; 2 E Symes (Bir) 18:12; 3 M Truman (Burt) 18:17; 4 I Wrightman (Wreake) 18:23; 5 L Mico (Worc) 18:25; 6 R West (Wreake) 18:37; 7 S Honkowitz (Tam) 18:41; 8 M Jacks (R&N) 18:54; 9 S Banks (Tip) 18:56; 10 F McFadden (Stroud) 19:04
TEAM: 1 Wreake 22; 2 Burton 81; 3 R&N 91; 4 Stratford 92; 5 Telford 119

U17 men:
Alex Adams finally went away from Ash Burgess on the long trip alongside the finish straight before turning into the final furlong. Adams said: “Ash led from the start then I took it on halfway through the first lap, got a decent lead then held it.”

1 A Adams (Strat) 16:40; 2 A Burgess (Bir) 16:53; 3 D Van Aardt (Wreake) 16:59; 4 J Greenhalgh (Mansf) 17:18; 5 M Bloxham (Wreake) 17:38; 6 L Miles-Starr (R&N) 17:42; 7 M Collins (R&N) 17:43; 8 J Nielson (W&B) 17:45; 9 B Smith (R&N) 17:53; 10 T Brinkley (R&N) 17:56
TEAM: 1 R&N 32; 2 Birchfield 79; 3 Banbury 111; 4 Tipton 143; 5 Stroud 155; 6 Coventry Godiva 172

Under-15 girls:
Last year, Shaikira King was headed by her Wreake & Soar Valley team mate Gilbody to the under-15 girls’ title but here both were winners, although King had to fight to take the under-15 gold.

Talking about the race she said: “It was a pretty good course and I liked it but after the start when you turn back, it was boggy.”

Shaikira King (Martin Duff)

Eventual second and third runners Bethany Trow and Isla McGowan challenged before King went right away for a 70-metre victory and lead Wreake to another team gold.

1 S King (Wreake) 12:53; 2 B Trow (Cov G) 13:09; 3 I McGowan (Banb) 13:14; 4 O McGhee (R&N) 13:29; 5 I Saunders (Rweake) 13:52; 6 T Thursfield (Stoke) 13:55; 7 M Taylor (Notts) 13:58; 8 V Rudkin (Wreake) 14:03; 9 I Clarke (SinA) 14:07; 10 E Lowe (N Som) 14:14
TEAM: 1 Wreake 28; 2 Stoke 82; 3 Stroud 173; 3 Coventry G 180

Under-15 boys:
The boys’ race saw Oliver Cresswell lead Birchfield to a team win, but Wreake & Soar Valley were also in the frame for yet another team gong. He echoed the comments about the course and said: “It was really sticky, so your legs get heavy after a while,” but said he liked the hills that “broke up the flat bits.”

Oliver Cresswell (Martin Duff)

1 O Cresswell (Bir) 12:00; 2 A Lane (Leam) 12:06; 3 G Wagstaff (B&R) 12:09; 4 J Nugent (Mansf) 12:28; 5 S Collins (Notts) 12:33; 6 A Elliott (Stoke) 12:36; 7 B Duncan (S&SH) 12:36; 8 E Holden (Mansf) 12:39; 9 T Roberts (Banb) 12:40; 10 L Paddison (Wreake) 12:41
TEAM: 1 Birchfield 60; 2 Wreake 74; 3 Stratford 95; 4 R&N 129; 5 B&R 135; 6 Charnwood 154

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Gemma Steel and Jack Gray take Midland cross-country titles appeared first on AW.

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