British Athletics Cross Challenge series starts in the Welsh capital

Charlotte Arter and Marc Scott proved unstoppable in Cardiff as the British Athletics Cross Challenge series got underway on Saturday.

Rain early on race morning cleared to leave ideal racing conditions and local athlete Arter was an emphatic winner of the women’s race, timing her move perfectly and decisively pulling clear halfway through the final lap.

Her winning time of 21:31 for the 6400m course saw her beat the time recorded by 2018 winner Anna Moller, who went on to take the European U23 title in December.

Arter had begun as a favourite following a fastest leg run at the ERRA National Road Relays last weekend to lead her Cardiff team to victory. She had been looking for a strong start to the cross country season and will now hope to emulate her 2018 win at the European Trials in Liverpool.

Cardiff club-mate Jenny Nesbitt is the current Inter-Counties cross country champion and similarly timed her move well to finish clear in second.

Norwich AC’s Iona Lake was third with Jessica Gibbons of Reading AC just outside the podium places.

“I’m really happy with how today went,” said Arter. “It’s always fun to start the cross country season here in Cardiff and it was great that Jenny and I could get first and second.”

The men’s race saw Scott and Mahamed Mahamed surge clear along with Cardiff man Mike Ward.

Scott had showed his cross country pedigree last December with a ninth place finish at the Spar European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg.

The trio shared the lead for much for the race but Scott, who raced the 5000m at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, used his track speed to go clear of Mahamed, meaning the Southampton man recorded a third consecutive second place finish in Cardiff.

Ward did indeed finish third, making a welcome return to racing in the capital following an athletics scholarship at Bradley University in Illinois.

Jonathan Glen of Inverclyde AC was next to finish with Cardiff man Ciaran Lewis closing out the top five.

Saskia Millard of Herne Hill Harriers took under-20 women’s honours ahead of club-mate Charlotte Alexander and Cera Gemmell of Team East Lothian.

Four of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team from the World Cross in Aarhus contested the U20 men’s race but it was Inter-Counties champion Matt Willis of Wrexham AAC who soared clear for victory to announce himself as the man to beat this season.

Last season’s Cross Challenge series champion Zakariya Mahamed was next to finish followed by English National champion, Rory Leonard.

Beatrice Wood of City of Salisbury AC was the U17 women’s winner, with Flynn Jennings winning a hotly contested U17 men’s race.

Kiya Dee of Highworth RC won the U15 girls’ title with Lewis Sullivan of Saint Edmund Pacers some way clear in the U15 boys’ race.

Zoe Gilbody of Chiltern Harriers and Henry Sheffield of Cirencester AC took U13 titles.

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