Inter-Counties 2018 Cross Country Team Manager’s Report
This was our second visit to Prestwold Hall for the championships and the conditions
couldn't have been more different than last year after the rain and melting snow
had left the grounds extremely wet. Shortly after the first race both the course
and the spectator's area were quagmires and it was certainly a case of "horses for
courses" with some athletes excelling in the mud but for everyone it certainly presented
a challenge. However it did turn out to be one of our more successful days in recent
times with the Senior Women taking a well deserved Silver medal and the Men matching
that, and also winning the Len Beaven Award for the first Nine Man team by a considerable
Preston's Nathan Dunn (pictured above) got us off to a great start by finishing in
the silver medal position after working his way through the field in the 8K U20 Men's
race and leading his team to 10th position from a total of 24 teams.
Every one of the age groups finished complete teams and it was good to see their
enthusiasm as some of the youngsters won a county vest for the first time. It was
also pleasing to witness the progress some of the athletes had made throughout the
season, in some cases peaking for the championships rather than arriving jaded at
the end of a long cross country season. Blackburn's Isaac Butler was a notable example
as he finished in 29th position and first Lancashire athlete in the U13 Boy's race
and similarly Wigan's Ava Lloyd, who I picked after her Northern Championships performance,
who started at the back of the pen and finished as first Lancashire athlete for the
U13 Girls in 56th place.
The U15 Boys were the highest placed junior team in seventh place from the 42 counties
and not too far away from a medal, so show a good deal of promise for the future.
Rossendale's Joel Taylor, finishing in 20th position, was the best placed and all
four counters finished in the first 60 of the 303 finishers. The U15 Girls race was
the penultimate race of the day when the conditions underfoot were almost at their
worst and their 29th position certainly doesn't reflect their ability and on a better
day I feel they would have fared noticeably better.
I lost three very good athletes from the U17 Men's team in the week leading up to
the championships and Rossendale's Matthew Mackay was ill on the day so didn't finish.
Consequently they finished a disappointing 14th place, way below my expectations.
Having said that I was pleased that the reserves responded so well and were willing
to make the journey down to Loughborough, in one case with less than twelve hours
The U17 and U20 females are a slight concern in terms of numbers participating, not
just in Lancashire but the sport in general, which mean that I have fewer athletes
to choose from in these age groups. However, both teams performed well with the U17s
in 20th position and a very encouraging 13th position for the U20s thanks to solid
runs from Chorley's Finty Royle and Ribble Vally Harrier's Eleanor Bolton.
Before the event I thought the women had a good chance of a medal so I was disappointed
to lose Blackpool's Emily Japp and Ribble Valley Harrier's Louisa Powell-Smith through
injury and illness and on the day I only had seven athletes available. In the event
all seven ran amazingly well and surpassed my expectations to finish within thirty
points of winning Gold. Sarah Astin, formerly of Manx Harriers and now City of Norwich,
has made a welcome return to form this year and she led the team home in eighth place,
closely followed by Katie Hewison in tenth position. Katie had enjoyed great form
going into the championships so it wasn't surprising to see her up at the front.
Manx Harrier Rachael Franklin in 30th place always performs well for the county but
Salford's Carla Davies, 49th, winning her first county vest, was a revelation and
a welcome addition to the team after a great run in the Northern Championships. Ribble
Valley Harrier's Nichola Jackson and Salford's Ruth Jones made up the team of six
who collected a silver medal but well done to Manx veteran Gail Griffiths, who has
been a regular in the team for several years.
The Lancashire Silver medal winning senior Ladies team
As team manager I only get to watch the Senior Men's race from start to finish so
at the end I was pretty confident they had a medal of some sort but was pleased to
learn it was silver and the icing on the cake was the nine man team award. Hampshire's
Mahamed Mahamed made it look so easy as he glided over the mud to take the win but
for the rest of the field it certainly looked an ordeal. Blackburn's Rob Warner and
Manx Harrier's Ollie Lockley battled each other throughout the race finishing in
16th and 18th positions respectively and Chris Arthur, in his last cross country
race for the county, having relocated to Cumbria, finished in 25th place. Salford's
Gary Priestley and Chris Livesey and Blackburn's Tim Raynes all finished in the top
50 to complete the six man team, which was just four points behind Middlesex's total,
and Rossendale's Callum Davidson and Rob Webb and Manx Harrier's Alan Corlett completed
the nine man team.
Of the 79 athletes who ran at Loughborough thirteen were from the Isle Of Man, which
illustrates the strength of the sport over there and also the commitment of the athletes
and their parents who make the journey to compete in the championships and then to
represent the county. Of course I'm also very grateful for the commitment of all
the athletes and their parents and coaches who made considerable investments in time
and money just to get to Loughborough.