National XC Championships (28/02/2019)

Life Member Tony Phillips reflects on this years event held at Harewood House, Leeds. This was Tony's 62nd consecutive attendance at the English National Championships since 1958, when it was held at Birkenhead, either as a competitor, team manager, official or supporter.

"Last Saturday, 23rd February, 2019, the National Cross Country Championships were held at a new venue, the impressive grounds of Harewood House near Leeds. It was an impressive landscape with open grassland, woodlands, hills, that provided runners with a testing course. After recent warm, dry weather the course was mainly firm, with uneven grassland, and long ascents and descents on the hills. the weather was spring like, warm and sunny, a little breeze, and perhaps too warm for some runners. It was a great contrast with past championships run in snow, very plow temperatures, and heavy rain, deep mud and wind. The senior men ran over a course of 12k (11.73k) with two large laps containing several lengthy loops.

There was the usual stampede at the start with over 2000 runners, that soon progressed into a file like procession, with the fast runners soon forging ahead at the front. Tipton started without some of their leading runners, but three established themselves in the top 200, with Joe Smith leading followed by Nick Hardy and Jonathon Carter not too far behind. They maintained their positions over the course with energetic running.

At the finish Joe Smith led the Tipton team home in 109th place, 40m 09s, Nick Hardy followed 169th, 41m 08s and close behind Jonathon Carter, 189th 41m 27s. There was a long gap before the other team counters finished, with Zabie Hassan, 1168th 51m 13s, Tom Acha 1218th, 51m 45s and last scorer Andy Ache 1375th, 53m 30s. Each runner settled in just over halfway in the field and with expected effort finished in the second half of the competitors. Ten Tipton runners finished out of 2006 completing the course. Other finishers were Myles Wilson 1444th, Robert Sedgley, 1682, John Stroulger, 1840 and George Cunningham 1907th. With the weakened team Tipton finished 57th out of 144 clubs completing the count.

Some observations - this was the lowest finishing position of a Tipton team for over 60 years, since 1957 and with two exceptions since 1924. It must be a very disappointing performance and turnout, only 10 when 41 had turned out in league races.

Cross country results in the winter season had been good. Tipton Harriers can and should do better with the runners in the club. The same applies to the senior women, with only Penelope Barber competing, and with her determination finished 573rd. Of the young runners one competed in the U13 Boys and Girls, no runners in U15 Boys and Girls, none in the U17's and U20's. The club could do better.

To conclude. The Senior Men's race was won by Mohammed Mohammed from Southampton AC who beat Emile Cairess, Leeds AC in an exciting finish by one second, 36m 34s to 36m 35s with Carl Avery, Morpeth Harriers in third position, 37m 04s. In the club event Leeds AC won the title in a dominating display in their home territory with 110 pts. from Tonbridge AC who continued their top performances in National events in second place, 191 pts and Bristol and West AC in a surprising third, 313 pts, a return to past achievements, followed closely by Bedford and County 317. Sale Harriers Manchester 424 and Aldershot Farnham and District 467pts completed the top six."