Steve Smythe begins our end-of-season merit rankings by taking a look at the senior performances

In the good old days, the top athletes did their Nationals and then the international/World Championships. The National’s importance was slightly diminished by the introduction of a separate trial for the World Championships. The vast majority of top athletes aimed for that and the season concluded with a World Championships. Choosing Britain’s top runners was relatively easy.

Now there is only a biennial World Championships, which the vast majority of Britain’s best rarely target, but the European Championships has seemingly grown in importance, as has the trial for it at Liverpool.

Therefore, with different athletes aiming for different peaks, these rankings are trickier.

First place though looks relatively clear cut.

Mahamed Mahamed won both the Inter-Counties and BUCS races plus Milton Keynes and was the first Briton in the European Championships under-23 race.

Ben Connor did head him at Liverpool and the Derby athlete followed up his victory with a top-10 run in the Europeans but he trailed Andy Butchart there.

The lack of racing from the top two seniors in the Europeans mean they also trail Adam Hickey, who performed with his usual consistency barring a lost shoe in the National.

Hickey has placed in the top four each of the last three years. He and Mahamed are the only two who ranked in the top 10 during both of the last two years.

Butchart’s European run just about makes up for a poor performance at Stirling where he was only fourth but he did also win a top quality Scottish short course event.

Ultra specialist Tom Evans, who did not even make the top 20 last year, makes his debut in fifth after good runs in four major races.

Alex Yee, like Connor, would surely have ranked higher had he not ended his season in December but produced two top-class races.

Kristian Jones won at Stirling and had good runs at Liverpool and the Europeans. He ranks above Scottish champion Jamie Crowe, who heads fellow national champions James Hunt (Wales) and Calum Johnson (English).

Johnson won at Nottingham and also took the Northern title (easily the best area event) but failed to win the North East crown and was fifth in the Inter-Counties.

Last year’s No.1, Patrick Dever, had a superb NCAA run and a solid European run but, as he is US-based, he had no domestic form and raced hardly any of the other contenders.

Joe Steward was another consistent athlete and is unlucky to rank as low, having been runner-up in three major races – the National, BUCS and the North – but he rarely faced those ranked above him.

The 1500m runner Sol Sweeney had a good all-round season and ranks above Tom Mortimer, who is the best from last year’s junior rankings.

Scottish runner-up Jonathan Glen and National third-placer Linton Taylor follow, with Carl Avery not helped by a lowly Liverpool run. Dan Jarvis and Jack Millar, who had a pair of good top 10 championship races, and NCAA 15th-placer Euan Makepeace complete the top 20.

Just missing out are Emile Cairess, who did not race after a lowly European run, and John Millar, who dropped out at Lisbon.

Cardiff winner Marc Scott, last year’s No.2 Ross Millington, Zak Seddon and Midland runner-up Ben Dijkstra are among those who needed more races to rank.

It is important to add that these rankings are not a guess of what would happen in a race but our assessment of form over the season, with extra weighting given to the main championships and Liverpool domestically, as well as the European Championships.

Athletes who achieved the following were considered for the rankings: All European team; Top 12: Liverpool, BUCS; Top 10: National, CAU; Top 8: Milton Keynes; Top 7: Cardiff; Top 6: North; Top 5: Stirling

Key of major events: BUCS: British Univ, Card: Cardiff, CAU: Inter-Counties, EC: European, ECR: English XC Relays, Elg: Elgoibar, Kerk: Kerkrade, Liv: Liverpool, Mids: Midlands, Mil K: Milton Keynes, Nat: National; Nth: North, Rots: Rotselaar, Santi: Santiponce, ScEDL: Scottish East District League, Sco: Scotland, SCR: Scottish Relays, SSC: Scottish Short Course, Sth: South, Stirl: Stirling

1 Mahamed Mahamed (Soton) (2019: 3)
1 CAU 37:21, 1 BUCS 32:06, 1 Kerk 33:07, 3 Soest 35:13, 8 EC U23 24:56, 2 Liv 30:27, 1 Mil K 29:37

2 Adam Hickey (S’end) (2019: 4)
4 Nat 44:24, 2 CAU 37:36, 2 Rots 30:12. 1 Sth 47:28, 3 Stirl 25:49. 36 EC 31:46, 4 Liv 30:50. 8 Mil K 30:14

3 Andy Butchart (Cent) (2019: -)
5 EC 30:38, 4 Stirl 25:50, 1 ScEDL 19.10, 1 SSC 11:54

4 Ben Connor (Derb) (2019: -)
1 Liv 30:22, 9 EC 30:47

5 Tom Evans (Lewes) (2019: -)
3 CAU 38:15, 44 EC 32:04, 6 Liv 31:03, 3 Mil K 29:44

6 Alex Yee (Kent) (2019: -)
3 Liv 30:35, 12 EC U23 24:59

7 Kristian Jones (Swan) (2019: 11)
7 Liv 31:05, 1 Stirl 25:33, 22 EC 31:23, 5 SSC 12:07. 1 Braid H 29:57

8 Jamie Crowe (Cent) (2019: -)
1 Sco 35:29, 8 Liv 31:20, 2 Stirl 25:43, 1 Sc ED 27:10, SCR 11:59, 4 SSC 12:02

9 James Hunt (Card) (2019: -)
4 CAU 38:26, 1 Wel 31:58, 5 Stirl 26:10, 19 Liv 31:52, 7 Card 30:12, 2 HI 27:00

10 Calum Johnson (Gate) (2019: -)
1 Nat 43:36, 1 Nth 41;41, 5 CAU 38:37, 2 NE 41:02

11 Patrick Dever (Prest) (2019: 1)
26 EC 31:29, 11 NCAA 31:00, 3 NCAA Midw 30:47, 5 AAC 24:13, 35 Verona 24:07, 3 RCI 24:22

12 Joe Steward (E Ches) (2019: 16)
2 Nat 43:59, 2 Nth 41:57, 2 BUCS 41:57,1 N Wal Lge 19.10

13 Sol Sweeney (Perth S) (2019: -)
10 Liv 31:32, 29 EC U23 25:32, 8 BUCS 33:05, 2 SSC 11:55, SCR 12:08

14 Tom Mortimer (Stroud) (2019: -)
6 CAU 38:46, 10 BUCS 33:17, 27 Stirl 31:44, 3 Birm L 8/2

15 Jonathan Glen (Inv’c) 2019: –
7 CAU 39:09, 2 Sco 35:43, 38 Stirl 27:40, 12 Liv 31:39, 4 Card 29:49, 7 SSC 12:13, SCR 11:49

16 Linton Taylor (Leeds C) (2019: -)
3 Nat 44:13. 19 CAU 40:06, 3 Nth 41:58, 16 Stirl 26:52, 36 Liv 32:38, 15 Mil K 30:45, 1 Lincs, ECR 16:41

17 Carl Avery (Morp) (2019: 9)
5 Nat 44:33, 4 Nth 42:15, 1 NE 40:50, 22 Liv 31:57, 3 SSC 11:58

18 Dan Jarvis (Bed C) (2019: -)
6 Nat 44:35, 4 BUCS 32:50, ECR 16:36, 2 x LU Lge 1, 2 Chilt L 11/1

19 Jack Millar (B&W) (2019: -)
10 Nat 44:56, 8 CAU 39:23, 11 Rots 31:15, 4 Mids 37:44, 7 Mil K 30:11, 9 Card 30:31, ECR 16:18

20 Euan Makepeace (Charn) (2019: -)
56 EC U23 26:21, 15 NCAA 31:05, 2 NCAA Gt L 30:06, 1 Big E 25:04, 26 Terre H 24:05, 8 PFI 24:18

Click here for senior women’s rankings.

» These rankings were first published in the March 26 edition of AW magazine, which is available to order in print here or access digitally here

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