There was a record entry of 9,569 athletes for the 10-race programme in the Saucony English National cross country championships, held for the 16th time at London's Parliament Hill Fields on Saturday (24 February). The spiritual home of English cross country has rarely looked better as Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath were bathed in brilliant winter sunshine.
The senior women's champion over 8kms was Phoebe Law (Kingston & Polytechnic Harriers) with a comfortable cushion of 21 seconds. Louise Small (Aldershot) and Iona Lake (City of Norwich) claimed the remaining individual medals as 1,113 completed the course.
“I’m delighted,” said Law. “This is my first National title – I was second under-20 in 2015 – and it’s what I have been aiming for this winter. The course was very tough. I pushed on, on that second lap but was never sure I had it won until the finish.”
The top six was completed by Georgia Taylor-Brown and Katie Hewison of team victors Sale Harriers Manchester and Naomi Taschimowitz (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers). Team silver went to Cambridge & Coleridge and Leeds City took the bronze medals home.
The 131st senior men's 12km race closed the programme with a first ever 'National' title for Southend's 29-year-old Adam Hickey, showing a welcome return to form after undergoing surgery for a hernia last year. Hickey eventually prised a precious nine seconds from the attentions of local favourite Andy Maud (Highgate Harriers). John Gilbert (Kent AC) was a further 17 seconds back for the bronze as runners from the south dominated proceedings.
Tonbridge AC retained their team title, led by Chris Olley (5th) behind Peter Huck (Barrow) and just ahead of Oliver Fox (Wells City Harriers). Tonbridge completed their scoring six in 35 places, with two athletes who have won national team titles in every age group from under-13 through to senior: George Duggan and Robbie Farnham-Rose. The remaining team medallists were Bristol & West and Aldershot, Farnham and District as conditions were at their heaviest following the pounding of thousands of pairs of spikes.
In the junior races the male champions were William Rabjohns (Poole, u13); Mohamed Ali (Ealing, Southall & Middlesex, u15); David Stone (Shaftesbury, u17) and Mahamed Mahamed (Southampton, u20). The female names to watch in the future were Maisy Luke (Cornwall, u13); Sian Heslop (Macclesfield Harriers, u15); Ella McNiven (Liverpool Harriers, u17) and Harriet Knowles-Jones (Warrington, u20).
Image courtesy Saucony English National Cross Country Championships