National Cross Country Championships, Wollaton Park, Nottingham 22 February 2020

Club athletes battled some of the toughest cross country conditions in recent memory as thick mud and deep puddles and a flooded stream  made for a gruelling English National Cross Country Championships at Nottingham’s Wollaton Park on Saturday.

Kate O’Neill’s fine winter season continued as she finished in seventh in the Under 20 race, a day before her 19th birthday. Sophie Rand finished 77th, while Sam Atkins, the sole Havering runner in the Under 20 men’s race flew the flag well in finishing one place higher in 76th in his competition.

The senior ladies had a scoring four led home by Morgan Campbell in 114th, over 60 places higher up than in her first National last year, while Ginte Bailey’s 143rd was 50 places better than in the 2019 edition. Robyn Matson in 251st and Clare Davies ensured a scoring team which finished 27th.

The senior men’s team put out nine runners to face the deep mud and water of Wollaton Park finishing 40th in that category, most of them saying they had never been in a tougher race.

They were led home by a disappointed Rob Warner who had his shoe half pulled off in the first thirty yards off the 12 km race and had to watch hundreds of runners pass him as he tried to put it back on. He battled back but could only finish 213th. Next home was Gavin Watts 349th whose army experience helped him through the extreme conditions. Barry Smith 430th and John Whitehead 571st did well to handle the course that left many of the nearly two thousand runners walking to get through the mud.

James Stewart 678th found the going tough but Steve Walker 872nd seemed to relish the race finishing in front of some of his team mates. Martin Chester was next home in 952nd with Gary Atkins just behind him in 978th . The team was rounded off by Roy James in 1244th.

The club had fewer in action in the younger age groups. Hannah Evans put her recent bout of ill-health behind her to finish in front of sibling Charlotte as the twins finished 13th & 151st with Rosie Warner 218th in the Under 13s. Matt Blacklock & Max Robbins were 131st and 243rd in the Under 15 boys and Tilly Canty the only club runner in the Under 15 girls in 114th



Under 13 Girls: ; 138th Hannah Evans 18:00; 151st Charlotte Evans 18:11; 218th Rosie Warner 19:03


Under 15 Girls:  114th Tilly Canty 22:04


Under 20 women:  7th Kate O’Neill 26:46, 77th Sophie Rand 31:17


Senior Women:  115th Morgan Campbell 39:27; 143rd Ginte Bailey 40:22; 251st Robyn Matson 43:02; 376th Clare Davies 46:11 (Team 27th)


Under 15 Boys:  131st Matthew Blacklock 19:14; 243rd Max Robbins 20:36


Under 20 Men:  79th Sam Atkins 41:29


Senior Men:  213th Rob Warner 50:15; 349th Gavin Watts 52:31; 430th Barry Smith 53:46; 571st John Whitehead 55:47; 678th James Stewart 57:29; 872nd Steve Walker 60:25 (Team 40th); 952nd Martin Chester 61:41; 978th Gary Atkins 62:02; 1244th Roy James 66:43


Photo: Various

Photo: Peter Warner