Sat 24 Feb 2018, Parliament Hill
For 2018 the National Cross Country Championship race returned to the south, with London’s Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath once again providing the venue on a cold, breezy but sunny day. The iconic course overlooks the capital and the cityscape was spectacular on such a clear day. The course starts with the notorious uphill charge and then follows a winding route through woodland trails and open fields with plenty of undulations. The surface varied from compacted ground on which some speed could be built up, and shin deep mud which was hungry for any loose shoes. The finish takes in a long, runnable, straight descent before a hard left leaving a couple of hundred metres to hang on until the finish. There was a record total entry of 9,569 with event record entries in several age categories.
Preston Harriers had a small band of runners at the event. Hannah Thompson represented the club in the 3 kilometres under 13 girls race, finishing 255th out of the 467 finishers. Next up was Benjamin Preddy for the under 17 men finishing in 126th out of 356 in their 6k race. Caitlyn Preddy then took to the course representing the under 15 girls and taking 315th position out of 464 over the 4k course. Emma Essex-Crosby was the sole representative for the senior women, taking 479th out of the 1113 finishers on the 8k course. The Harriers had three runners in the senior men’s race. Richard Smith, returning from a recent ankle injury, finished the 12k course in 605th position, just about holding off the spirited challenge from Ben Read who finished 54 seconds later in 699th. Chris Wales, also returning to fitness, completed the course in 1163rd. Several former Harriers, including Nichola Jackson, Chris Livesey, Dave Rigby and Alex Waddelove were also in attendance with their new clubs, taking up the opportunity to run in this prestigious race. Next year the event returns to the north with Harewood House in Leeds, the venue for this year’s Northern Championship, hosting the national event, hopefully enabling more Harriers to run.