English Cross Country Championships

Parliament Hill Fields, London, Saturday 21st February

The premier event on the cross country calendar is the English National Cross country championships, an annual festival of cross country running in which the best cross country athletes in England fight it out for national honours. This year it was once again the turn of the southern region to host the event in one of the sports favourite venues, Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath in London. Although nestling in the nation’s capital, the course ticks all the boxes in terms of what makes a “proper” cross country course; mud, hills, fields, woodland and more mud! Undeterred by Parliament Hills’ tough course reputation and also by its relative inaccessibility for many from the North and far South West, a record number of participants, 5283, competed in Saturday’s races which included record fields in both the men’s and women’s events; 2005 and 865 respectively. Holmfirth Harriers were represented in every one of the eight junior age groups and both senior men’s and women’s races.

Lewis Byram National XC 2015 2 240

Lewis Byram

The star result for the club from the junior section came in the U17 men’s race. Lewis Byram found the mud and hills to his liking. Holding back for the first short 2km lap he moved through the field throughout the longer 4km lap and with 500m to go was lying in 6th. The final steep muddy descent allowed him to pass two more athletes and close the gap on the two athletes ahead. Lewis was rightly thrilled with his 4th place just 5 seconds behind the silver medalist. He completed the 6km course in 20.54. Competing in his first National Cross country race Chris Law was next home for the U17 team finishing in 112th position in 23.36. Alex Robinson ran strongly to come home in 140th in 24.08 and Lavell Pierre completed the team finishing in 190th, a great effort as he later required treatment for a spike injury. The boys finished 11th team.

Erica Byram National XC 2015 240

Erica Byram

The Byram family provided excitement for the travelling fans in the U17 girls race also. Erica Byram, like older brother Lewis, came through the field to finish well inside the top 30 in 23rd completing the 5km course in 23.53. Sister Lucy was just 30 seconds behind with a strong run in 46th and Daisy Smith was thrilled to have survived the mud in 233rd in 32.19.

Both U15 races like the U17 featured record fields of athletes both close to 400. In the girls’ race Genevieve Durrans and Ellie Sunman ran well to come home in 253rd and 296th respectively. In the boys’ Harry Shelbourne finished 257th and Nicky Farquhar 296th.

The U13 races both featured huge fields 395 in the boys and 433 in the girls. Callum Durrans had a really strong run to finish in 194th in the boys’ race, the last of the junior events. Alice Shelbourne was also a lone Holmfirth representative in the girls’ battling the mud and finished in 402nd, still smiling.

In the U20s races Lucy Farquhar was first home in the women’s race running strongly in 62nd place 27.34 for this 6km distance. Ruby Sykes was just inside 30minutes finishing in 29.54 in 96th place. In the U20 men’s race over 10km Kai Sunman was first back for Holmfirth in 117th place in 40.05, Eddie Hinchliffe next back in 151st in 42.14 and Robert Hinchcliffe-Smith 170th in 44.15.

Helen Berry National XC 2015 240

Helen Berry

The ladies were somewhat thin on the ground due to injury but those that did turn out put in good performances. Helen Berry had an outstanding run, moving through the field with each kilometre of the 8km event, and putting in a final effort to ensure a top 20 spot in 32:36; an improvement of 20 places from last year’s and her best position to date. Veteran Lesley Ewart had a super run for 334th place in 41:02, with fellow veteran Helen Pettit 382nd in 41:47. The race was run by Lilian Partridge of winning club Aldershot, Farnham & District in 30:07.

Richard Anderson National XC 2015 240

Richard Anderson

Just seven men from Holmfirth Harriers made the trip to compete alongside two thousand other athletes in the biggest race of the season. The National title has eluded some of the biggest names in English athletics. By the time this final race started, there was not a blade of grass in sight, and the mud was shin-deep in many parts. After a battle between a small group of athletes it was Sale Harriers’ Charlie Hulson who won the race in 12km course in 39:12. It was Richard Smith, fresh from winning the Wombwell 5 last weekend, who led the Holmfirth contingent for most of the race before being overtaken in the closing stages by his teammate Richard Anderson. Anderson was 130th (44.06) and Smith was 137th (44.14). Dave Turnbull found it tough going in the mud to finish 238th (45.50) as did Craig Boggon in 504th (49.22).Veteran John Ewart was next home in 1094th (55.49) followed by Andy Hauser in 1234th (57.24). Finally, Club Road Secretary in his first ever National Cross Country event, was veteran John Philpott in 1898th (82.36). With the first 6 to count, the men’s team were 50th out of 145 complete teams.

A large group of Holmfirth supporters helped make the weekend a most enjoyable one for everyone involved.

Helen Berry

Photos - courtesy of Norman Berry, link here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hhac/sets/72157650985119591/

A link to the full results: http://www.englishcrosscountry.co.uk/news/2015-nationals-results-pdf/ 

Pre-2012 news, results & reports are on the old sites: 2009 to 2011, Pre-2009

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