There was an impressive total of thirty-five Chiltern Harriers selected by their counties to run in the UKCAU National Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Prestwold Hall, Leicestershire on Saturday.
This is the most prestigious of the season-end national races with regional teams from Wales and Scotland joining the English counties to make a truly national competition.
Most Chiltern runners were taking part for Buckinghamshire but there were also a few running for Hertfordshire and one for Shropshire.
Upon arrival the course looked promisingly grassy. However after a few races the soft surface cut up badly to make a very challenging treacly track with dry, tacky mud being very hard to run through.
The highlight for Chiltern was a win in the Under 13 Girls race for Zoe Gilbody, representing her home county of Shropshire.
First of the ten races on the programme though was the Under 20 men and Tommy Davies had a solid run to be fifth Bucks finisher in 112th place. The Bucks team was tenth from 26.
Zoe Gilbody took hold of the Under 13 Girls race from the start and won by a convincing 27 seconds, despite losing a shoe halfway round. In doing so Zoe also won the season-long British Cross Challenge title, the fifth and final race of which is incorporated in the Championships.
Chiltern athletes also filled many of the Buckinghamshire team places and the team finished tenth from forty. Frankie Baxter had another good run to be leading Bucks scorer in ninth and Lesedi Nkoane also ran very well to be second scorer in 20th. First year Lily Jessop-Tranter was fifth Bucks finisher in 132nd. Marea Logan and Lucy Wilkinson both started for the team but had to retire due to illness or injury.
Hannah Wardley took part in the Senor Women’s race, running for Hertfordshire. A heavily taped Hannah had a great run to be second Herts scorer in 154th place from 257 finishers.
Chiltern had good representation in the Under 15 Boys race and Thomas Askey was first Bucks lad home in 44th place. Teague Eaton was second Bucks scorer in 105th and Cormac Nisbet completed the team of four in 127th. Also running well was Angus Stoneham in 164th. Bucks were 18th county from 40.
In the U17 Women’s race Alicia Bushell was third Bucks scorer in 101st and Katie Repper fourth Bucks scorer in 168th in a team that came 18th.
The race featuring the most Chiltern runners was the Under 13 Boys. After great wins in the Southern and National Cross Countries, Alden Collier has been in brilliant form. However, heel discomfort linked with Sever’s since the National has been a problem and took its toll at Prestwold with Alden, second most of the way round, in pain at the end and fading to 29th – still first Bucks runner home. And because Alden had won the previous three Cross Challenge races, he still ended up as Cross Challenge Champion. See Video of Alden's presentation
Ever-improving Archie Pinder had his best run of the season to be 11th for Herts and second scorer in a team that came an impressive 6th. Also featuring for Herts were Euan Pinder, fifth finisher in 71st and Leon Doran, eighth finisher in 181st. For Bucks Max Baxter was second scorer in 55th, Isaac Jessop-Tranter third scorer in 88th and Alex Hughes fourth scorer in 120th. The team was 12th. Also running well were Daniel Munn in 168th, Rowan Gawne in 195th and Ethan McCall in 260th.
In the Under 17 Men’s race, the Buckinghamshire team was 24th. James Palmer was third Bucks scorer in 128th, Ben Jackson fourth scorer in 149th and Luke Martin sixth finisher in 201st. Max McGarvie was going well but had to withdraw with cramp.
The best Bucks team finish came from the Under 15 girls, the scoring quartet of which were all Chiltern girls. Holly Henderson was an excellent 21st, Maddie Hughes 42nd, Alice Brown 44th and Abbie Henderson, struggling with breathing difficulties, 56th. Also having good runs were Ellie Shield, sixth finisher in 142nd and Hannah Ashby, suffering with ankle pain, eighth finisher in 243rd.
Completing the Chiltern presence in the Championships was Richard Slade in the Senior Men’s race. Richard finished his superb cross country season with a great run to be leading Bucks scorer in 54th. A great result from a field of 293 of the country’s best cross country specialists.