Corr that preview was good wasn’t it, glad I wrote it. Nothing like a bit of serious rhetoric to get the blood flowing.
Liverpool. Millions flock from all corners of the globe to feast their eyes upon the hidden gems this vivacious metropolitan borough has to offer. When first mentioned your mind might wander to the acclaimed Royal Albert Dock or Joe Anderson, the exalted Mayor. If you’re a little more audacious you have probably already imagined the gastronomical pilgrimage you may go on as you sample traditional Liverpudlian delights at the Liverpool Food & Drink Festival. It is truly a place where dreams come true.
To athletes (and the less epicurean) Liverpool only means one thing; European XC trials. The ancient philosophers believed that a dream is a projection of your truest desire secluded in deepest depths of your subconscious. Some people have simple tastes - for example Keir Sullivan dreams of running 100-mile weeks just like he used to when he was 12 and at Winchester and knew Toby Cooke and Stu McCallum. Others are more fanatical as with Sergio’s dream of being a suave espionage agent who can sneak into SNOBS on whim in the case of a forgotten ID as well as having housemates who won’t ‘look after’ the girl he likes while he’s waiting outside. Some are just down right out of this world insane like there's no way it’ll ever happen like Louisa’s HILARIOUSLY far-fetched and downright outrageous dream of getting minibus to Liverpool. But, for most of us athletes, we dream of performing well at Euro trials and that’s what we did. Sit back, relax, and let this wave of BUAC pride and superfluous words wash over you as we recount the phantasmagoric events of yesterday.
It only seems right to start with the first race of the day. The U20 women exhibited the best BUAC showing of the day with 8 finishing in the top 25 and 10 inside the top 50. Firstly, Liverpool debutant Saskia Millard vehemently led the girls home despite her best efforts to sabotage herself. Not only was she greeted by a facepalming Gunny when she immediately went to the front (the one thing she was told not to do) she also left on her warm-up gear during the race. Winning the race Grants her an automatic place in the GB European XC championships next month which will mean it's her second GB vest in half a year. It can’t be explicitly said what she’s planning next but in interview conducted last night she revealed her next target rhymes with “Pokyo menty-wenty” – cryptic stuff.
In a cruel twist of fate Maisie Grice came home in 7th place, agonisingly close to earning herself another GB vest. However, she should take solace in the fact that her performance was still one to be proud of and coming that high up in a national field is no mean feat. Fresher Kate O’Neill came next with a solid 10th place. It’s often the case that celebrities become complacent after letting stardom get to their head, but this wasn’t the case for Kate who kept her zen after appearing in the world-famous BUAC Liverpool preview. From one Kate to another. Kate Palthreeman-What, one half of the stupid-shoes club, continues to go from strength to strength and ran well to finish 13th. Sophie Rotheram took a break from being large town in South Yorkshire to finish 17th ahead of a carpet of BUAC consisting of ice-queen Elsa Palmer, fell runner Lily Higgins and the newest subscriber to ‘Men in Kilts Weekly’ Maddie Mastro. Lucy Thornton came in 35th, Abby Rex 50th and Harriet Foley 63rd to round out this fantastic race.
The U20 men saw less BUAC participants but equally hard-earned results. Tom Keen led the charge coming home in 14th right behind some top-class names. Morgan ‘the Chwyrligwgan’ James finished 38th just ahead of Shreyas Kanyady who is reaping the rewards of consistent training and is beginning to fulfil his huge potential. Ollie Newman was next, followed by 7th-year shark Joe Hudson and full-time Harry Kane lookalike Daniel Maud. Harry Dexter and Brychan Price-Davies also ran well to conquer the tough race.
As we all know the U23 race is coupled with the seniors and this makes for arduous going. The men at the front relentlessly push the pace and unless you’re in it to win it from the start its near impossible to get back. Our top finisher was James Gormley, the steadfast presence at any high-level race, who finished as 7th U23 in an incredibly talented field. Michael Ward had a tough day at the office after falling over twice but he’s a tough cookie and while disappointing, he’ll be back faster than ever for BUCS. A blinding run by Charlie Davis saw him finish next in 64th ahead of Tom Drabble, who couldn’t quite hold on to his gutsy start, and Danny ‘fresh trim’ Carps. Bristol & West AC ultra Joe Connors also whipped out a stupendous run to put away some rivals from his dark past, 1-0 to the surly fatman of Avon. Joseph Tuffin was putting in a colossal effort but just struggled to get going on the more technical parts of the course under the tree cover, Elms for any of you curious arborists out there. The Russell of the leaves just too much for his delicate shoes. It was great to see so many BUAC alum mixing it out there too. Strong runs from Mark Pearce, Ian Crowe-Wright, James McCrae, Sam Eglen, Ste Garrett and Aeden O’Brien.
BUAC’s second GB vest of the day came from the U23/senior women race. For those ‘in this biz’, the blue and yellow of Bracknell AC heralds only one thing; THE Amelia Quirk. Quirky, known by her friends as The Harbinger of Doom, ran bravely and was rewarded as one of the top U23 finishers, meaning she’ll also be on the plane to Euros next month. Niamh Brown came in next followed by housemate Jess Keene and the ethereal Elisha Tait. Louisa Whittingham came in just behind and crossed the line to a cacophony of support from the Whitty fan club consisting of long-time best friends Doddy and Picko. Lovely Eloise Bull had a lovely run with lovely people to round out her lovely day. Lovely.
That’s a wrap. Liverpool 2019, it was a big one. Two GB vests and umpteen revered performances all under the quintessential gregarious ambience of BUAC. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let’s keep this ball rolling.