Alex Donald brings you a full report on the Welsh National XC Championships

Lauren Cooper stormed to a maiden victory as James Hunt retained his crown at the 117th Welsh Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

The event returned to Pembrey Country Park for the final time in its three edition cycle with underfoot conditions remaining firm at the sand based course and strong winds not able to deter from a day of quality racing in the heart of Carmarthenshire.

Lauren Cooper (Parc Bryn Bach Runners) was clearly delighted with her win which came in 27:37 ahead of Caryl Jones of Swansea Harriers and Chloe Dooley (Pontypridd Roadents) who was third in the race outright and Kate Roberts who took the Bronze medal in the Championships.

Swansea took top club honours with Lliswerry Runners second and Bridgend AC in third.

‘I had no idea how well the race was going to go until today’ said Cooper. ‘There’s always some big names here and I wanted to make sure that I was in the mix’.

‘My race plan went out of the window pretty early on, but I felt really strong throughout so I just went for it’.

‘It’s always such a great event and I’m over the moon to be at the top of the podium today. Hopefully this is an indicator of my fitness going forward. It was definitely a much-needed confidence boost’.

Photo: Paul Stillman / Welsh Athletics

Third title for Hunt

James Hunt’s (Cardiff Athletics) third Senior title was all the more special as he was returning from injury unyet was able to hold off an attack from clubmate Dan Nash who had probably looked the race favourite ahead of the Senior Men’s contest over 10.3km.

Triathlon specialist Adam Bowden of Bridgend AC cleared out the podium positions with seven-time Champion Dewi Griffiths doing his bit for his Swansea team, finishing in ninth.

Both Hunt and Nash helped to steer their club to an emphatic defence of the cub title with Matt Edwards, Mike Kallenberg, Alex Jackson and Larry Ryan also finishing in the top 10.

Hunt commented; ‘I was thrilled to take my third Senior Welsh Cross Country title and had a great battle all the way around with Dan Nash. I’m over the moon to take the win today’.

‘Coming back from injury and Covid to be able to train pain free is just amazing. I’m really grateful to be back racing and nearly back to full fitness’ he added.

Photo: Paul Stillman / Welsh Athletics

All the junior action

Ellen Mary Kearney (Wirral AC) made her victory in the U20 Women’s race look easy. Moli Lyons (Cardiff Athletics) and Eden O’Dea of Deeside AAC claimed Silver and Bronze medals.

Carmarthen Harrier Dafydd Jones overcame Cardiff duo Ben Miles and Lloyd Sheppard-Brown to claim U20 Men’s honours in the last race of the day’s 11 race programme. This was true to the form book following Jones’ performance as the first scorer at the Celtic Cross Country International at Belfast recently.

Ceri Griffiths (Newport Harriers) sailed to u17 Women’s victory with Artie Savage-Swaine taking the title in the Men’s equivalent age group.