As November draws towards its end, there was another busy weekend of racing across the United Kingdom. James Rhodes brings you the best of the action.

Brussels Bound

Undoubtedly, the racing highlight of the weekend came from Sefton Park at the Liverpool Cross Country Challenge. The event attracts stellar fields each year, and Saturday’s races were no different. Helped, in part, as they acted as the trials for the European Cross Country Championships, taking place in a fortnight in Brussels. The first four senior, U23 and U20 athletes to finish were guaranteed selection.

One of the most impressive performances of the day came from Megan Keith, who won the senior women’s race by almost a minute. She finished in 26:02, with Abbie Donnelly crossing the line in second in 26:55. In third, Izzy Fry had one of the best races of her career to secure a spot in Brussels (27:05).

Behind, Jess Warner-Judd (27:09) and Amelia Quirk (27:21) finished in the top four of senior athletes. Alex Millard (27:18), Eloise Walker (27:54) and Olivia Mason (28:19) were the second to fourth fastest U23 athletes. Having won in Cardiff last week (where she faced a strong international contingent), Megan looks in a good place to match or improve on her U23 silver medal when in Brussels on 10 December.

Photo: Mark Hookway

Huge by Hugo

Having made the transition to triathlon, Hugo Milner returned to Liverpool where he finished second last year. The Derby athlete went one better, winning the senior men’s race in 28:38. An incredibly tight finish came behind, with just one second separating second, third and fourth. It was 1500m specialist Matt Stonier (29:02) who took second, ahead of Jack Rowe (29:2) and Rory Leonard (29:03), who all confirmed their spots in the Great Britain team.

They will be joined by Calum Johnson (29:6) and Zak Mahamed (29:12) in the senior team, whilst Tomer Tarragano (29:21) and Will Barnicoat (29:25) complete the U23 quartet. Rory, Tomer and Will all competed in the European U23 Championships on the track in July.

Photo: Mark Hookway

Innes FitzFerald and Henry Dover won the U20 races. The short-course relay trials provided victories for Josh Lay, in a race where four seconds separated the top seven, and Bethan Morley, who beat pre-race favourite Khai Mhlanga.

Josh Lay (3012) en-route to victory in Liverpool. Photo: Mark Hookway

Fancy a 10k?

It’s been a good few days in the Potter household. First, it was announced on Thursday that Beth had qualified for her second Olympic Games, this time in the triathlon. Fast forward to today, and sister Sarah won the Doncaster City 10k. Not only that, her time of 33:31 was a 44 second PB. She was joined on the winner’s podium by Christos Tzelis (30:59).

Moving southwards, there were plenty of fast times at the Wilmslow Festive 10k. Mollie Williams (33:29) and Callum Davidson (29:59) ran fastest, with a further eight runners inside 31 minutes. Callum was just one second shy of his PB set in Trafford in March, whilst Mollie was running her first 10k of the year.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Anna Kelly (37:22) and Matthew Lock (32:37) at the Eynsham 10k, Dion Garner (34:12) and Vicki Ingham (37:50) at the Boscombe 10k, and Jordan Thomas (31:54) and Isabella Shaw (39:48) at the Cheddleton 10k.

The Run Southampton 10k provided victories for Richard Waldron (32:06) and Amanda Hull (39:30), whilst the Kingston 10k went to Ryan Keane (34:20) and Charlotte Redhead (41:39). Moving to Nottinghamshire, where Luke Beresford (35:30) and Ruth Aylward (43:37) finished first at the Edinstowe 10k. Matthew Lambert (34:51) and Betty Richardson (39:53) won the Ravenstonedale 10k.

Simon Nott (37:25) ran well at the off-road Yarnbury Yomp, as did Charlotte Preece (49:13) as the pair took victories. On the trails, Jason Elrick (44:01) and Tracey Pratt (48:08) won the Santon Downham 10k.

In Spain, John Sanderson won the Zurich San Sebastian 10k (30:36) with Georgina Weston (36:24) the fastest British woman. Thomas Wright (2:32:28) and Gemma Bridge (2:58:56) were (writer caveat: I believe, from the Spanish results page!) the fastest Brit in the San Sebastian Marathon.

Hats should always be a race prize. John Sanderson after the San Sebastian 10k. Photo: Maddy Austin

Festive Spirit

With December just around the corner, Wilmslow wasn’t the only race with a name getting into the festive spirit. In London, Simon Palmer (39:45) and Laura Palmer (44:13) won the Bushy Christmas 10k. The associated 5k was won by Flavia Rowson (21:38) and Rodrigo Mattiuz (20:07). With the same race organisers, the Sherwood Christmas 10k went to Francesca Sedgewick (47:12) and Neil Kennedy (38:32). Anna Kemp (21:16) and Matty Fraga Martinez (17:29) won the 5k.

Other than the venue hosts Winter Wonderland, there is little festive reference with this but, on Friday, Belgrave Harriers had a good day at the Serpentine Last Friday of the Month 5k. Jessica Saunders (17:29) and Ollie Garrod (15:07) recorded wins. Also midweek, Lilian Corbett (21:10) and Harvey Thomas (21:34) won the Run Newmarket Warren Hill 5k.

Longer Races

It is always nice to be able to report on a win for one of the Fast Running team. Gill Bland (3:17:40) joined Daniel Rothwell (2:34:09) as winners of the Oulton Park Marathon, organised by Run Through. On the same day, Thomas Boardman (70:59) and Kate Bywaters (92:44) were quickest at the Oulton Park Half Marathon.

Staying with 13.1 miles. Ben Mees (74:10) and Naomi Flanagan (80:14) ran well to win the AVR Wiltshire Half Marathon, whilst the Kingston Half Marathon saw Emma Klugman (96:38) and Chung Yau Liu (76:33) set the fastest times.

More Cross Country

Liverpool wasn’t playing host to the only cross country race of the weekend. On the outskirts of London, Beckenham Place Park played host to the South of the Thames XC Team Race. A (slightly short) five-mile course saw Ed Chuck of Dulwich Runners (24:37) and Eliza Hawthorn of Stragglers (27:50) take victory. Kent AC and Belgrave Harriers won the men’s and women’s team titles respectively.

Kent AC at the South of Thames XC. Photo: James Rhodes

There were wins for Jack Casalino of Durham University (36:04) and Louisa Mitchell of Durham City Harriers (27:04) at the North Eastern Harrier League. The latter won with a commanding margin in excess of four minutes at the Aykley Heads course.

Morgan Squibb led home a Blackheath & Bromley top-three at the Kent League, completing the Swanley Park course in 29:05. She finished over a minute ahead of teammates Jessica Keene and Carole Coulon who completed the top-three. There were no men’s races at this fixture.

Across the border, Thomas Hilton of Moorfoot Runners and Hollie Hindley – without a club on the results page – were first across the line at the Borders League fixture in Peebles.

Back to the Roads

Ending this week with some distances that are less frequently run. Jude Bell (25:44) and Annabel Gummow (27:05) had good outings at the Hatfield 5. Also over five miles, Claire Andrew (32:58) and Dan Schofield (28:53) won the Warrington RC 5. Neil Adams (32:40) and Alexanfra Ely (39:08) did the same at the Runners-next-the-Sea Beach Run 5.

Doubling the distance, and Sam Juson (57:33) and Polly Summers (69:40) won the Elan Valley 10. The Westdown Wander takes in approximately nine miles; Thomas Humphrey (63:17) and Claire Stone (74:57) crossed the line first. Ending at the Croome Capability Canter 6.5. It provided wins for Nicola Juniper (44:40) and Daniel Geisler (39:04).