Sat 25 Nov 2017
The UKA Cross Country Challenge is a series of races designed to give a strong level of competition for runners from all over the UK. The Liverpool event acts as the trial race for selection for the European Cross Country Championships, which take place in Slovakia in December. Conditions were bright and sunny with the odd wintry shower, although the courses soon became churned up.

The races also include the Liverpool & District League and the Mid Lancs League, and so the numbers competing were high in all the various events. Over 600 runners finished the last race of the day, the senior men’s over 9.8k. Patrick Dever sealed another GB selection for the Europeans when he finished 12th overall, and 2nd under 23 in 31.15. It was a strong and confident run and Dever led the Preston team to a Mid Lancs 2nd place with team counters in Mid Lancs positions being, Dan Bebbington (7th), Chris Livesey (10th), Andy Benson (14th), David Rigby (18th) and Richard Smith (34th.). Ben Connor of Derby won in 30.18.

The quality at the front of the senior women’s race was equally good, and a group of four eventually broke clear. Emelia Gorecka of Aldershot won in 27.59, with Preston’s ladies being led in by Nichola Jackson (4th in Mid Lancs), Grace Maddox (9th) and Emma Essex-Crosby (49th).

Some of the highlights of the earlier races saw Imogen Blackwell finish 7th in the under 13 girls race, whilst Darcey Lonsdale was a good 4th in a strong field in the under 15 girls race. The girls team, including Darcey, and Scarlett Sutton and Grace Brown were a close 2nd to a very competitive Liverpool Harriers team. Preston had eight finishers in the top twenty. Liam Blackwell finished 8th in the under 15 boys race, with Thom Barnes (11th), Luke Suffolk (54th) & Arran Baldwin (63rd).

Kian Davis won the under 17 men’s race over 5.5k in 18.35, and he was dominant in the Mid Lancs field, being twelve seconds clear of Rossendale’s Matthew Mackay. He was closely followed by Benjamin Preddy in 18.59 & Matthew Fazakerley in 19.47. Jack Campy was 14th in 20.51. The team took a comfortable first place on the day.