Coverage of the action at Pembrey Country Park
Dewi Griffiths claimed a seventh Welsh cross country title in ideal conditions at the 115th edition of the championships on Saturday, Alex Donald reports.
The new venue at Pembrey Country Park near Llanelli offered some great technical sections, making for some competitive inter-club competition over the 11-race programme.
Griffiths’ victory here came just days after returning from altitude training with Welshman Steve Jones, whose record nine Welsh titles Griffiths now moves a step closer to.
The Swansea Harriers stalwart now feels that he has edged back to the kind of fitness which saw him record a 2:09 marathon and a half marathon best of 61:33 back in 2017.
He said: “This is one of the titles I appreciate the most. The way last year turned out, I was disappointed to lose my streak but it’s nice to get it back and now it’s one step closer to Jonesy. He set the bar pretty high in these championships so hopefully one day I can emulate that.
“In the grand scheme of things it’s another test and I’ve come through it. This was another stepping stone towards London (marathon) which is the big aim for the spring.”
International steeplechaser Ieuan Thomas had commented that he hoped to stay within two minutes of race winner Griffiths and finished well inside that, 24 seconds adrift of the 2016 UK Inter-Counties champion.
Thomas’ club-mate James Hunt was unable to keep his Welsh title, finishing third this time followed by Abed Teweldebrhan of Newport Harriers and Guy Smith of Swansea Harriers who finished fourth and fifth respectively.
This meant that the visitors from the Welsh capital were convincing team winners and pleased to regain the title they last won at the Glanusk Estate in 2013.
Thomas said: “That was a really fun race. I’m not a natural cross country runner but it’s been a good winter so far. When you come up the dunes on the last lap, it really burns the legs.
“When you see Dewi is going to be on the start line, you have to resign yourself to being second. I wanted to get as close as I could and I’m really happy with how I ran. It’s great to see that Cardiff won the team race as well.”
Worcester AC’s Jenny Nesbitt was untroubled on her way to an emphatic victory in the senior women’s race, covering 7,360m in 25:59.
— Welsh Athletics (@WelshAthletics) February 23, 2019
“I really enjoyed today,” said Nesbitt. “It means a lot to win a Welsh title on the cross country. It was where my running started so I’m very pleased with that. It bodes well going in to the Inter-Counties where I’ll be challenging a lot of tough runners with the aim of getting to the World Cross.”
Nesbitt will now chase selection for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships at the trial race in Loughborough in two weeks’ time, hoping for a place in the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team to race in Aarhus, Denmark.
Melanie Wilkins of Winchester & District AC improved a national bronze medal last year to take away the silver this year.
Jade Williams was third, running for Aman Valley Harriers, using her track speed to hold off fourth-placed Megan Carter Davies of Cardiff AAC. Lauren Cooper closed the first five places running for Parc Bryn Bach RC.
Swansea Harriers retained their club title with relative ease ahead of Cardiff AAC and the Swansea B team.
Englishman Conor Smith followed up on his win 12 months ago by storming away from his rivals to take victory once again in the under-20 men’s race. Larry Ryan took under-17 honours last year but this time claimed the Welsh title at under-20 level.
Steeplechaser Ben Thomas was third, running for Carmarthen Harriers, the childhood club of senior men’s winner Griffths.
Cardiff man Morgan James claimed the bronze medal here.
There was a dominant display from Ashleigh Williams winning the under-17 title and the combined U17/U20 women’s race outright.
Katrin Higginson became the under-20 champion, running for Bridgend AC, with Martha Owen of Deeside AAC second in the championships and Rhiannon Kamink of Colwyn Bay AC in third.