Andy Vernon (Aldershot) and Jess Judd (Chelmsford) claimed the 2016-17 British Athletics Cross Challenge titles after taking composed victories in the UK National Inter-Counties Championships and junior World Cross Trials at Loughborough on Saturday (11 March).
Vernon And Judd Secure UK Cross Titles
Vernon led from the start in the vest of Hampshire and built a cushion of 24 seconds over 12kms of muddy, hilly and twisty terrain. His front running victory secured the senior men's British Athletics Cross Challenge title and this was his third National Inter-Counties trophy following previous successes in 2009 and 2011.
Vernon's efforts were not enough to lead Hampshire to victory, though, as his county finished fourth behind North East, Surrey and Middlesex. The closest challengers to the back in-form Rio Olympian were Alex Tueten (Southampton/Hants) and Andy Maud (Highgate/Surrey).
Loughborough Student, Jess Judd (Chelmsford/Essex) put her local knowledge to good use to get away from a talented senior women's field over 8kms to also claim the senior women's UK Cross Challenge award to add to her English National trophy just two weeks earlier.
Unfortunately, Jess's team was incomplete and the inter-counties race was won by Surrey from Scotland East and Hampshire. The UK champion finished 13 seconds clear of Claire Duck (Leeds/Yorks) with the 2014 European Champion, Gemma Steel (Charnwood/Leicestershire) in for the bronze, despite losing her spikes in a boggy section around half distance.
The UK Inter-Counties programme features races for junior age groups with athletes having the opportunity to pull on their county vests with a pride and passion beyond that normally seen in club competition.
This year's under-20 races were designated World Cross Trials and the victors were Jonathan Shields (Sheffield/Yorks) and Anna MacFadyen (Forres/Scotland North) as Scotland East (men) and North East (women) are the 2017 team champions.
Full results at British Athletics website.
Photo courtesy British Athletics press.