The British Athletics Cross Challenge called at Blackweir Fields for the fourth meeting in the series
Jess Judd and Dewi Griffiths enjoyed dominant displays at at the Cardiff Cross Challenge on Sunday (January 22), with the GB internationals claiming senior race victories at Blackweir Fields.
Chelmsford’s Judd improved on her fourth-place finish from 12 months ago to beat Swansea Harriers’ Verity Ockenden over the 6990m course, 26:15 to 26:42. Irish cross country champion Shona Heaslip was third in 26:57.
“It’s really nice to be at the front again but it is hard to pace it,” said Judd, who raced in the vest of Loughborough University where she is currently in the middle of exams. “It was fantastic though and I’m so happy that I held on. I felt comfortable until probably the last 500m – I was really starting to struggle around that final loop. But I’ve worked really hard for that so I am really happy to win.”
The 22-year-old, who placed 24th at the Great Edinburgh XCountry earlier this month, added: “I’m really happy with my cross country season so far. I’m trying to do a combination of speed and endurance work at the moment, so sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t (in races). I think it was a bit off in Edinburgh.
“It was great to come here and feel like my normal self again. I’ve got a couple more cross country races and I’ll look to do the (Cross Challenge) final in Loughborough.”
Over in the men’s race and it was another title on home soil for Welshman Griffiths as the 25-year-old retained his title, clocking 32:58 over the 10,370m course to beat fellow Swansea Harriers athlete Kristian Jones with 33:11. Tonbridge AC’s Donald Carter was third in 33:58.
“I’ve just come back from a Welsh endurance camp in Spain,” explained Griffiths. “I trained well there but you never know how the legs will react on your first race back. Fortunately my strength was there, maybe not my top gear but I had enough to win and that’s what I came here to do.
“I knew Kris (Jones) would pose a tough challenge; he has been in great form over the last month. I knew I could push it on but it was on which lap to play it. I made an honest race of it early on and could see him going back slightly on the third lap so I had to just keep pushing. The distance (ahead) at the end probably flatters me.”
After duels in Edinburgh and Antrim earlier this month, it was third time lucky for Hugo Milner as he earned a commanding win over Jonathan Shields in the under-20 men’s event. The women’s race was won by Anna MacFadyen of Forres as she overhauled Ireland’s Anna Rose Farrell to claim her first ever Cross Challenge win.
Ireland’s Sarah Healy won the battle in the under-17 women’s race against Hannah Hobbs, while her compatriot Darragh McElhinney claimed victory in the men’s equivalent after pulling away from Antrim winner Matthew Willis over the final lap.
Lily-Jane Evans-Haggerty and Harris Mier won the under-15 races, while under-13 titles were claimed by Anna Hedley and Alexander Thompson. Lexi Flockhart and Alistair Shelley won the under-11 races.