The first weekend of November is always one of the busiest pre-Christmas on the endurance calendar, as BUAC athletes travelled up and down the country to compete at the National Cross Country Relays in Mansfield, the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k as well as other local cross country leagues.
The national cross country relays remain one of the post popular events of the year, as they help bridge the transition between track season and cross country season for many athletes. They provide the opportunity for both individual and team success, and with its illustrious history there is little wonder athletes flock to Mansfield from all over Britain. BUAC was well-represented as usual, having 24 runners storming around Berry Hill Park.
There’s simply nowhere else to start but the marvellous Tom Dodd (pictured right)
who won the Junior Men’s 3k first leg by over 10 seconds in a course record 8:23, simply stunning when you consider what a difficult couple of years Tom has had in terms of injuries. Fair to say he is back with a bang. A minor miracle occurred as Paddy Magner somehow managed to avoid catching a cold in the warm up, as he continued his excellent start to the season with an 8:51. He was closely followed by daddy Joe Tuffin (9:06), cross country enthusiast Sergio Argul (9:18), Belgium-inhabitant Max Walk (9:20) and warrior Mikey Lennon (9:33).
It’s no surprise BUAC junior ladies featured prominently at the top end of racing, with Amelia Quirk (pictured left) ran 8:23 for the second fastest leg of the day over 2.5k. The ever shy Yasmin Austridge had another great run for 8:32, with Niamh Brown (8:42) not far behind. Many performances can go under the radar when we have so many at the front, but there were also great efforts from Aine Cunningham (8:55), Lily Higgins (9:03), Maisie Grice (9:17), Lizzie Squibs (9:18), Lucy Elms (9:25), Tilly Horton (9:41) and Lizzie Pennington (10:14). It’s truly fantastic to see so many new names getting stuck in with cross country racing.
As ever the senior race had less BUAC athletes competing, but there was still a notable presence, particularly in the 3k ladies race as Laura Gent (10:11) played an integral role in an AFD silver medal. As usual, the field on the first leg was incredibly strong, including commendable runs from Naomi Collier (10:13), Natalie Connor (10:19) and Ella Shirley (10:31). It was also fabulous to see everyone’s favourite St Albans Striders race, as Lauren Eckley (12:02) and Naomi Baker (12:30) ran well over the mud. The senior men’s race contained only 2 BUAC athletes, with a ferocious battle ending with Alex Rieley (15:50) just edging out cross country loving Tom Drabble (15:51), putting Tom in a great position ahead of the Birmingham League this Saturday.
Elsewhere, nine BUAC students/alumni took on the world famous Leeds Abbey Dasy 10k – a course known to be one of the fastest in the country. Dan Carpenter (31:18) led the team home, with PBs also tumbling for Alex Lanz (32:01), Jethro McGraw (32:13), Noah Armitage-Hooks (32:17) and Grant Anderson (below, 32:27)
. In addition a monumental 2 minute PB for Chris Hicks (32:59) saw him dip 33 minutes, just in front of Stephen Garrett (33:06), Joe Connors (33:21) and Aedan O’Brien (33:28). Special mention to Joe Connors, whose perseverance after a difficult summer meant he more than deserved that.
Overall, a brilliant weekend of racing from the club, setting us up well for the Birmingham/Midland Leagues next week. Crucial now for everyone to keep working hard and look to push on!