English Schools Cross Country Championships 2022
Adams earns England call-up.
Report – Paul Hawkins and David Jones
Big crowds flocked to the Hop Farm near Paddock Wood in Kent on a beautiful sunny day for the English Schools National Cross Country Championships. There were six excellent races featuring some 1900 runners on the flat fields surrounding the tourist spot for the 61st running of the event.
For some of our junior cross country runners this was the climax to a long hard season.
The ESAA National Cross Country Championship is the most eagerly anticipated event of the winter for young athletes and it brings together the best athletes in each of the 46 Counties in England to compete for the honour of being the best in the Country.
This was the return of the championships after a Covid enforced break following the 2020 event in Liverpool. The course was relatively flat compared to some of the recent races, which the athletes enjoyed although the weather was very warm.
Entry to the event is by virtue of athletes being selected by County Team Managers to represent their County
It was a very successful day for the club with 17 members racing, with 14 running for Warwickshire and 3 in the Gloucestershire team.
The highlight for our contingent was Alex Adams, who is in a rich vein of form. Running for Gloucestershire in the Inter Boy’s race he came 4th out of 325 runners with a time of 19.20 for the 5750 metre race. Alex was just denied a bronze medal by being overtaken in the final few strides, with just 1 second separating the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed finishers.
Although denied a medal, the bigger prize on offer was selection to represent England in this weekend’s SIAB Cross Country International at Pembrey Country Park in Wales. This he comfortably achieved with his 4th place finish, with the first 8 finishers qualifying to represent their country.
After the race ALEX commented “ It was very hot and very flat which is not meant to be my sort of race but I felt ran it well and I can take plenty of positives from it. I managed to get to the front early and ran at the front for a large part of the race, only to loose out on a medal by mere inches. I felt comfortable until the second lap where I had to really dig deep and pull out a special performance. The main goal of getting on the England Team was achieved so I’m really happy”
Also competing in the Inter Boys race was Milo Cullimore representing Warwickshire. Milo was a late addition to the team and finished in a time of 22.52.
In the Inter Girls race, run over 3875 metres, the club had 4 of the top 6 Warwickshire finishers. Leading this group, despite her nasty fall in last week’s race that necessitated a visit to A&E was Maisie-Joy Spriggs. M-J was the 2nd finisher for the county and achieved a top 100 place, finishing 93rd with a time of 15.23. She was followed by Niamh Hillard just 5 seconds later in 103rd place, an improvement of over 150 places on her last appearance at these Championships in Liverpool. Maddie Linfoot was next to finish for Warwickshire in 203rd place with a time of 16.10. Olivia Robinson, competing for Gloucestershire, finished with a time of 16.31 and finally Lucy Thomas completed the course in 18.02.
In the 4395m junior boys race, Zak Lambert was 3rd finisher for Warwickshire, finishing in 93rd place with a time of 14.43, he was followed by William Mayes (15.27) and James Day (15.51).
In the Junior Girls race the club had one representative, Martina Grace, who completed the 3190m course as 3rd Warwickshire finisher with a time of 14.19.
The club also had just one runner in the 4395m Senior Girls race. Ellie Deaner ran a time of 17.21 to finish as the 2nd placed Warwickshire runner despite having qualified as only the 7th fastest.
The longest race of the day was the 6995m Senior Boys race with the club having 4 of the top 5 placed Warwickshire runners as well as Taylor Stubbins (276th – 28.58) representing Gloucestershire. Ned Campbell (27.21) and Alex Pester (27.40) have been pretty much inseparable in all of their races together this season, as was the case once again, with a mere 19 seconds separating them. Completing the Stratford contingent were Josh Dobedoe (29.06) and Caleb Spriggs (29.29).