The National Cross Country Championships at Donnington Park took place on 27th February. Against a back drop of jet aircraft and race cars it was a rare opportunity for a small group of Harriers to pit themselves against the best runners in the UK.
Representing the club were four very keen Cross Country runners (Well you have got to be keen to drive all the way to Donnington Park and run in mud!). Running the U15 Boy’s race was Jack Dee-Ingham. Jack’s Cross Country season has name checked all the Schools, District, County XC’s going, achieving considerable success enroute. Today was another opportunity to challenge himself against the best. Running the Senior Men’s race was Mark Hillam-Morgan, Mike Harris and Team manager Steve Nicholls.
The pressure on Steve was clearly evident as he collected the team race numbers.
The mad charge of the U15 Boy’s race. Later the ground would be shaking as 1,800 men shot across the open ground.
Jack finished his race strongly and yes there was actually some green grass for a change, the Northerns were just an unpleasant memory. A brilliant performance 22nd place in 17:19. Well done Jack.
All smiles at the end.
Later it was time for the senior men.
By now Steve’s apprehensive look 😳 had migrated into a look of a deranged mad man (apologies for offending any deranged mad men reading this report!). Weather conditions were cool but great for XC running. A recce of the course reveal lots of firm ground so our Harriers were eagerly looking forward to something likely to be much more pleasant than Witton Park. Only later did we discover that the sections of the course we missed out in the warm up were quite heavy mud that stuck to your shoes. This and multiple undulations made it trickier than it looked.
The course included a passage through a cabbage field, trodden down it smells of…..cabbage, nice! 😝
From the start Mark led the Harriers, not surprising after the stellar Cross Country season he had. Steve also shot off fast at the start which would help avoid the bottleneck as the course funnelled down from the opening field. One poor chap went down and probably resembled a colandar by the time he picked himself up as there was no room to manoeuvre. By the end of the first lap of three it started to thin into what resembled a more normal race. Gradually over the 2nd lap Mike caught Steve. The third lap looked like it would be a battle for 2nd and 3rd Harrier home as Mike passed Steve at the start of this final circuit. No such worries for Mark, he was well clear and probably stopping for family photos with his supporters such was his advantage.
The final placings after a tussle on the last…
Mark Morgan-Hillam 54:29 🏅
Mike Harris 57:56
Steve Nicholls 59:14
By now Steve was managing a flicker of a smile! 😄
Well done to all the Harriers who made the trip which turned out to the last Cross Country race of the season with Cuerden Valley cancelled.