Wycombe Phoenix

National Cross Country Champs 2018 – Parliament Hill

This year ‘The Nationals’ returned to its spiritual home – Parliament Hill. This is the biggest race of the cross country calendar and the ingredients were there for a great days racing; the sun shone, not too much mud(!), everyone found a parking space, the trains were on time and to top it all the view from the tent was lovely.

The U17 women kicked off the day’s proceedings. This time we weren’t quite able to put out a full team, but Nationals U17w startwe were happy to rely on the stalwarts of Cerys Vico 145/276, Emma Styles 205, Ana Montgomery 218 who have served us well throughout the season. All 3 of the girls stormed up the long hill from the Lido and were well placed for the rest of the race and all three finished strongly.

It was a similar story for the U15 boys, where we were one short of a full team. But it was good to see the boys (Luke Kempton 420/504, Alex Mitchell 453, Nick Mitchell 458) step up in a much bigger forum than the Chiltern League in one of the most competitive age groups. In the U17 men we managed to field a full team and they didn’t let us down. The boys put in some great performances and came 22 of 36 teams. Myles Caddell 98/355 led the team home followed Nationals U17Bby, Tom Crockett 153, Fin Dyer 196, Hal 228).

Rollo Parry continued his brilliant season and seems to be improving every race. He was our only U13 boy but had a great run and was our 2nd highest placing junior athlete of the day coming 62 out of 570! Hopefully he will take this form into the Inter Counties and English Schools races.

The U15 girls team was a little depleted due to illness and injury, but the ever reliable Megan Harris ran well and was our first runner home (183 / 463). Making her debut in her first major race was Ellen Cooper who was the biggest surprise of the day. Going into the race she was worried she would be last, but in fact finished 356th, with over 100 finishing behind her. Hopefully she will take this confidence boost into the track season.

Nationals ViewThe seniors have had a terrific season in the Chiltern League. Saturday though was a reality check where we are in the big scheme of things. A good team in cross country running can be very hard to achieve. In contrast to the Chiltern league 2 weeks ago, on Tuesday we had 5 ladies ready to race on the Saturday. However, things then took a turn for the worse. By Saturday morning, 5 had become 3 and we weren’t going to finish a team. However, Lucy Rogers was as consistent as ever. Last year ‪110, 2018 112. Jenny Roberts has been getting better and better all year. 201st in her first National was a great run. Beth Brown prefers the track to the hills and mud but gave it her best with a 532nd place finish.

There was a slim chance at the start of the season that our U20 men could do pretty well. They have done, but unfortunately not all at the same time! Despite very limited run training, Seb Garry put in the performance of the day. Indeed, it is our best male performance for a long time. 16th was very good. If he can get over the niggles that have dogged him this year, then anything is possible next year in his final year in the age group. Peter Finn continues to improve, finishing in the top half of the field in a very pleasing 109th.

The Senior Men’s race is a brilliant spectacle. Over 2300 runners finished this year. Joe Branch started aggressively and maintained his position throughout, beating several local rivals in the process.  171st in his full season in the sport is very good. George Eyles made his debut for the Club and was next home in 612. Frank Fulcher has struggled with his calf since January. The lure of the National at Parliament Hill though was too much for him to resist. Reliable as ever, Frank not far behind George in 630th. Andy Walling, Tim Hogbin and Kieran Gilfedder completed the team. 67th. First time we’ve appeared in the team results in a long time so step in the right direction!

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