A very windy Berry Hill Park in Mansfield was the venue for the 2022 Midlands Cross Country Championships. The wind made the competition very tough for all the runners as the start and finish was straight into a headwind. There was some shelter to be found in the woods and the recent dry spell meant the course was not muddy, a nice change for our athletes.
Senior Women It was the 33rd time Birchfield have won this trophy and the 5th time in the last 8 races there being no race in 2021. No other club gets close to this so we should be very proud.
From the start of the race Lily Partridge set off determined to make a mark on the race and was up with the early leaders showing improvements on fitness with every race. Following not far behind were Hannah Robinson and Bryony Gunn with the rest of the team being Rae Nicholls, Ella Shirley, Lizzie Watters, Ella Shirley, Danel Jansen Van Rensberg and Laura Hopcroft.
As the race ensued Lily established herself in 2nd place where she finished, Hannah had another great run to finish 4th just missing bronze by a few seconds. Sadly Bryony who was well up and feeling good had a huge fall on lap one badly bruising her shoulder and pride, bravely Sshe got up and carried on but suffered in terms of position and finished 9th . Young Rae Nicholls also had a great run to close the scoring in 28th place and securing the Gold medal placing by 7 points. Lizzie managed to get past Ella to finish 43rd while Ella was having a bad time still trying to get back to fitness after a nasty dose of Covid and she finished 48th. Danel was 80th and Laura 104th.
In the Junior race Vicky Bradbury was the sole Birchfield athlete an finished a fine 7th
Several withdrawals the day before the race meant we were not able to field a full team in the senior men's race. Ed Banks was the first Birchfield to finish in 22nd. Not too far behind were Jason Bennett in 27th and Jonathan Bradford 29th. The only other competitor was Andy Peat in 49th.
The team was hopeful of a medal as they have achieved some excellent placings in the Birmingham League. Dan Swain, Dominic Smith, James Vaughan and Max Price all set off with the leading pack and were looking strong. The eventual winner made a break on the second lap with Dan Swain in the small group that were in the running for the minor places. On the final lap there were two athletes out front and four others battling for the third place, including Dan and Dominic Smith was not far behind this group. A sprint for the line gave Dan a fine fifth place with Dominic in 8th, James 9th and Max closing the scoring in 16th. With all four team members finishing in the top 20 the team were Midlands Champions and deservedly were awarded the gold medals.
With four good athletes the team was capable of taking a medal if they all performed well and they certainly did. Finnan Robins had his best race of the season so far for 10th place. Next athlete home was Leo Merritt who put in a strong sprint to gain several extra places in the finishing straight. Leo was 28th and not too far behind were Luca Bradley in 30th and new to the club Jan Malecki was 32nd. This secured bronze medals for the team.
We only had two girls in the U17 Women's race. Sofia Zacaroli, another new athlete had a very strong run to finish in 8th place and Hana Salal Mehager, who found the conditions very hard, was 41st.
The current national road relay champions were keen to add another title to their collection and continue their run of success. Ash Burgess was the individual silver medalist after a very strong run. Charlie Smith was the next athlete home in 19th with Zac Yates in 22nd and Oliver in 34th to make up the team. This meant the team was crowned Midlands Cross Country Champions. SImeon Swain also had one of his best races to finish in 41st just in front of Jai Sohna in 43rd and our final competitor was Jesse Bradley who was sufferring from a recent bout of COVID in 55th place.
We only had three compeitors in the U15 girl's race. Emily Symes continued her great season to finish in 15th place. Cassie Pearson was 33rd and Jenny O'Rourke was 40th.
There were only three athletes in this age, all of which were in the U13 boys race. Seb Grant ran strongly for 29th place and Anton Bolding was 31st. Corin Bradley, the youngest of the Bradley clan was 53rd.