Cross-country runners in Hampshire enjoyed a county championship to be proud of at Fairthorne Manor, Curdridge last weekend. Saturday, 6th January saw 25 Spartans Cross Country runners attend the first race of the year, the Junior endurance team made up 22 of this contingent. The event is in its 8th year at this location.
They were blessed with unseasonably warm weather and extremely light winds for the event, but the weather leading up to the championships meant that conditions underfoot were changeable. Athletes had to negotiate the hairpin turns and the boggy area near the lake, which was sodden under foot, proved a challenge for all.
Our first notable performance of the day was in the U13 boys race (3300m) where two of our own athletes, Teddy Wilson and Myles Christopher battled for 5th & 6th place to be pushed into 6th and 7th as a Guernsey athlete raced past them on the finish line. Making up the team of 6, was David Lundie-Smith (16th) Finn McGrath (18th) Indy Simpson (36th) and Henry Rigby (40th). The boys in the top four positions within the team were awarded with a silver team medal, just 1 point behind Basingstoke and Mid Hants who took gold.
The U13 girls race, running the same distance as the boys, did not disappoint either. Thea Thompson and Florence Williams set the pace from the very start quickly forming a lead pack as they ran into the distance. As they came back into sight, Williams made her move on Thompson in the last 500m but Thompson fought back hard to finish one place ahead of Williams to finish 2nd and 3rd. Poppy Mapplebeck (30th) and Beth Silva (24th) made up the team of four. The U13 girls team finished 4th overall.
Whilst the girls were finishing their race the U15 boys race started with our team of six. First timer Ewan Pilley (9th) ran extremely well and wasn’t at all fazed by the 38 other runners. The boys were expecting to run 3900m and complete one entire lap. The other team members were Samual Oldham (12th), Jake Le Boutillier (17th), Danny Wood (21st), Zane Simpson (26th) and Liam Duxbury (27th).
The U15 girls were the next race and the only group that didn’t have a complete team. The three girls lined up together for the very fast start and stayed together for the first few hundred metres. Running the same distance as the boys, Isla Hall led the group into the woods. Hannah Sterry (4th) and Ava Hadjam (17th) both ran exceptionally well throughout with Isla finishing in 2nd place claiming an individual silver medal.
The last of the juniors were the U17 mens team, made up of Bradley Andrews-Callec, Rory Baines, Herbie Buccholz, Ralph Depledge and Luke Holmes. The young men were expecting to run two laps of the course and very quickly a lead group formed with Andrews-Callec leading the way. The athletes took full advantage of the drying conditions and the light winds to power home in a very competitive race and produced a close and exciting finish with Andrews-Callec finishing in 3rd, Holmes, 4th, Baines 5th, Buccholz 21st and Depledge 29th. The mens team finished 2nd overall.
Matt Geddes was the only U20/Senior runner representing JSAC in the final race of the day. Geddes was expecting to run 10,000m but it appears as though the course was measured at 12,000m. Despite this longer distance, Geddes raced strong finishing 3rd in the U20 and 10th overall.
After the event, the juniors enjoyed a more relaxing and social time together. We started off with some rather competitive bowling, followed by an all you can eat buffet and an escape room!
As always, our thanks goes to the chaperones who gave up their weekends to give the athletes this opportunity, and to Jersey Sport who support via their Travel Grant.