The last weekend in November means just one thing, Liverpool Cross Challenge, a day of reckoning for those vying for GB vests, or to use Jack Johnson’s words, “a beautiful day for the sport.” The 2022 edition of the event certainly did not disappoint, with both Will Barnicoat and Tomer Tarragano gaining qualification for the European Cross Country Championships in Turin in emphatic fashion.
First up were the short course races used as trials for the mixed relay event. With just two qualification spots up for grabs it was elbows out from the gun. In the men’s race, Tyler Bilyard ran a well-paced race and finished like a train to take 6th place. He was followed home by teammate, and sub four minute miler, John Howorth in 10th. In the women’s race, Emily Marmion-Williams and Tilly Simpson came home 10th and 11th respectively in a stacked field.
In the junior women’s race, Ellen Weir capitalised on her 4th place finish at the WMTRC Junior Up & Down Race, coming home 10th. Next across the line in 15th was the 800m specialist Abigail Ives. While Anna Mason (31st) and Freya Bennett (40th) ran strong races to finish in the top 50. Maisy Rose (52nd), Suzie Brooke (56th), Emily Hathaway (61st) and Siobhan Gregory (71st) rounded out the BUAC contingent.
The junior men’s race was dominated by Will “the milkman” Barnicaot’s audacious gun-to-tape performance. Thomas Bridger hung on to 18th after the fast pace set by Barnicoat in the opening stages ripped the field apart. Brett Rushman lookalike, Sam Burkitt, continued his string of good form to come 31st. Fellow fresher, Tommy Shaw, finished 47th, a few strides ahead of George Rowland in 53rd. Luke Richardson’s 94th placed all of BUAC in the top one hundred places.
Alumna Rebecca Murray (12th) was first of the BUAC family home in the senior women’s race. Not far behind, Saskia Millard ran impressively to take 26th (10th U23) off of little training. Alumna Maisie Grice returned from the states to come 38th. Mia Atkinson put the watt bike stats that Jack Johnson fawns over to good use to finish 43rd (14th U23). 2021/22 Cross Captain Elsa Palmer (45th, 15th U23) narrowly beat alumna Niamh Brown (46th) and Rosie Hamilton-James (49th, 16th U23). Alumnus Elisha Tait (56th), Lauren Hall (60th), Alex Eyklebosch (65th) and Laura Gent (81st) were all close together. While Maya Todd McIntyre (64th, 23rd U23), Abby Rex (66th, 24th U23), Ella Semple (72nd, 28th U23) and Martha Collings (89th, 36th U23) all packed tightly in the U23 race. Katie Goodge (103rd, 41st U23) beat Katie Hopkins (115th, 45th U23) in the race of the katies, with the latter making it to the start line on time this year. Maddie Mastrolonardo (117th) just beat fellow alumna, Lily Higgins (118th), to the line.
With his place in the U23 Danish team for Turin already secure, Axel Vang Christiansen set out to test his form against the best of the British contingent. Despite an early fall, Christiansen came home in 7th place and comfortably destroyed the rest of the U23 field. Tomer “his name is a spice” Tarragano was next home, 11th in the senior race and 4th U23, securing a well-earned spot in the Euro squad. Brett Rushman, 2021 fresher’s idol winner, proved the effectiveness of a training regime based solely on laps of Selly Park by coming 25th (12th U23). Alumni Jack Gray (21st), Ian Crowe-Wright (26th), Ben Alcock (31st), and Joseph Tuffin (38th) demonstrated the depth of BUAC talent. Mike Ward (35th) beat alumnus Charlie Davis (59th) to be crowned the fastest (not a real) doctor. Ethan “winner of the BUCS B race” O’Shea came home 39th (18th U23) and Will Brown finished 54th, with alumnus Sam Eglen close behind in 55th. Fresher Isaac Hirshman-Chandler showed some class to take 61st (28th U23). Oliver “Olympian” Dustin showed he is not just good at running two laps to finish 83rd (37th U23). Edward Blythman came 84th (38th U23) in a performance later described on Strava as “something to properly build on.” An ill XC Captain Elliot Moran showed grit and determination to finish 92nd (43rd U23). Just outside the top 100 were Jordan Jones (114th, 56th U23), alumnus Mat Jackson (117th) and fresher Edward Diamond (131st, 62nd U23). Sam Wheatley came 184th (72nd U23) and Ben McIntyre began his attempt to run a marathon off of 400m hurdles training by coming 261st (79th U23).
With BUCS XC just two months away, the depth of impressive performances at Liverpool will surely send a clear message of intent to BUAC’s competition.