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McCain Open Cross-challenge Series - Race 1 (Bristol)

 

Invicta East Kent AC dominated the combined u17 & u20 Women's race in the first of 5 races of the McCain Cross-country Series which are traditionally staged variously in Wales, England and Northern Ireland before returning to Birmingham for the Grand Finale in March 2013.

 

The status of the McCain Series is such that the next one - Liverpool 24 November - is used by UK Athletics as the trials to select Senior and u-20 teams for the European Championships which this year are on 9 December in Hungary

 

On a tough and undulating course in Bristol, nine IEK raced impressively, led by our six u17 & u20 Women who raced together over 4,500m and packed, Kenyan-style, into the top 32, three in the first four.  Biggest rival on the day was u20 World 800m silver medallist Jessica Judd from Chelmsford AC who led for most of the race and had built up a seemingly unassailable 40m lead - Judd (who turns 18 in early January) was overhauled in the last 400m by 15 year-old Bobby Clay who went on to record a memorable win by 30metres. 

 

Only 20metres behind Judd, Alex Clay was 3rd - another 50m back, Rebecca Weston (4th) marked her return to racing by finishing a stunning 200m ahead of Becky Straw, the reigning National u17 XC champion from Birchfield Harriers.... Straw had pipped Alex Clay on the line for the National XC title at Parliament Hill in February and she was also the highest placed u17 in this Bristol race 12 months ago.

 

This time, Jessica Judd Rebecca and Becky Straw were classed as the first 3 under-20 finishers, while Bobby, sister Alex and 13th placed Loren Bleaken (Team Bath) were first three u17 finishers. 

In one of the performances of the day, Amy Old was a magnificent 20th overall and, as 8th u17 female, was less than a minute behind Bleaken, English Schools silver medallist at 1500m - matching the competitive showing of their team-matres, training partners Lilly Coward (31) and Emily McKane (32) finished only 5 seconds apart after a race-long tussle.

 

Elsewhere, and making their debut in this series, Anna Weston was 13th in the u15 Girls race, while Barney Howard finished 29th in the u17 Men's race, only 27 seconds behind Corey De'Ath, Tonbridge's only runner at these Open races - a similar gap in the Kent League at Swanley in early October would have put Barney 5th behind Corey's 3rd that day

 

10 year old Oliver Weston made the most of a family outing to Bristol by running 5th in the u-11 Boys' race