Athletes lay claim to World Cross places at a muddy Cofton Park
Frank Tickner and Louise Damen took the senior titles at the UK Inter-Counties Championships in Cofton Park, Birmingham, on Saturday.
In an event that incorporated the trials for the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, later this month and the McCain Cross Challenge, prize money and selection were at stake. Conditions were the boggiest they had been in the three years these championships had been held at the Birmingham venue, but not as bad as for the National at Herrington Park last month.
Damen had been among the biggest favourites of the day, but her win was more hard-fought than predicted. The winner of the National by an impressive one-minute margin succeeded in fighting off the constant challenge of Elle Baker, eventually crossing the line eight seconds clear.
Damen, who admitted she did not feel great at the start of the race, appeared to be heading for an easy victory when she started to pull away from the group early in the third kilometre of the 8km route. However, she was caught by Baker, who at one point started to move ahead before Damen caught her and moved ahead with one kilometre to go.
Gemma Steel continued her return from injury in third, while Emily Wicks had a good run in fourth. Steph Twell followed-up her disappointing illness-affected run at the National with her best performance for a while.
Tickner claimed his second senior Inter-Counties title and first for six years. He moved clear of long-term challenger Steve Vernon to win by 11 seconds. Andy Vernon moved up through the field to place third ahead of Jonathan Taylor and Mike Skinner.
Emelia Gorecka was the least surprising winner of the meeting, the 2012 European silver medallist showing she had a recovered from a recent flu virus to win by 26 seconds.
Gorecka was a little unsure of herself having missed some training because of the illness but believes she remains on course to have a chance of a top-10 place at the World Cross.
Bobby Clay, who had stayed with Gorecka for the first half of the 8km race, crossed the line next. Aged just 15, she stepped up from the under-17 race in order to challenge for a place in the team for Bydgoszcz.
The under-20 men’s 8km was less clear-cut before Jonathan Davies pulled away with around a mile to go for a four-second win. As many as five athletes had been still together two thirds of the way into the race. Triathlon specialist Gordon Benson was second, ahead of William Paulson.
The first four in each of the four trial events will be selected on Monday for Bydgoszcz subject to meeting other criteria. Up to six athletes in each category can be picked in total.
SM: 1 F Tickner 33:54; 2 S Vernon 34:05; 3 A Vernon 34:11; 4 J Taylor 34:19; 5 M Skinner 34:32; 6 M Ozbazghi 34:36; 7 P Nicholls 34:56; 8 J Wilkinson 35:00; 9 D Garbutt 35:09; 10 B Livesey 35:10
U20M: 1 J Davies 24:51; 2 G Benson 24:55; 3 W Paulson 24:58; 4 L Lloyd 25:00; 5 M Callegari 25:05
U17: 1 J Hopkins 18:15; 2 M Shirling 18:22; 3 A Carter 18:31; 4 Z Miller 18:32; 5 E Gillham 18:36; 6 L Boyle 18:38
U15: 1 D Evans 16:02; 2 T Dodd 16:10; 3 S Feroni 16:14; 4 C Solomon 16:22; 5 C Durney 16:22; 6 A Kinloch 16:30
U13: 1 T Kendrick 10:27; 2 M Rawlings 10:28; 3 J Crutchley 10:29; 4 J Maggorian 10:35; 5 N Armitage-Hookes 10:37; 6 M Willis 10:38
SW: 1 L Damen 26:58; 2 E Baker 27:06; 3 G Steel 27:24; 4 E Wicks 27:28; 5 S Twell 27:30; 6 L Partridge 27:34; 7 E Clayton 27:41; 8 R Auckland 27:57; 9 J Coulson 27:58; 10 K Brough 28:03
U20W: 1 E Gorecka 19:41; 2 B Clay 20:07; 3 G Taylor-Brown 20:13; 4 A Neale 20:15; 5 R Watson 20:32; 6 A Clay 20:37
U17W: 1 A Griffiths 19:13; 2 B Owen 19:34; 3 G Garner 19:45; 4 L Turner 19:48; 5 S Foreman 20:06; 6 H Nuttall 20:09
U15: 1 H Knowles-Jones 16:56; 2 K Whiteoak 17:06;3 K Waugh 17:24; 4 D D’Santos 17:29; 5 S Sinha 17:38; 6 G Goddard 17:42
U13: 1 KA McDonald 10:58; 2 K Mhlanga 11:20; 3 A Lancaster 11:21; 4 A Cunningham 11:29; 5 J Czura 11:29; 6 N Kingston 11:31
» Full results are available here. A fuller report, pictures and results will be available in next week’s AW, out March 14