Sat 26 Jan 2018, Pontefract
Nathan Dunn continued his rich run of form of late and he won a fantastic bronze medal at the Northern Cross Country Championships at Pontefract Park Racecourse in the u20 junior men`s race. It was a very competitive race, with a group of three starting to get clear on the second long lap of the 8k course, and Dunn was always in contention. He finished in 25.54 behind 2nd placed Euan Brennan (Ilkley Harriers) and winner Rory Leonard (Morpeth Harriers). There was great joy for the junior men too, as they secured a team victory with Kian Davis (17th), Jack Dee-Ingham (20th) and Matias Grixti (32nd) being the other three counters of the first four to count. Byron Sowerby was 47th.
The Championships had returned to Pontefract for the first time since 2015, when it was a mud-bath! The courses this year, running alongside much of the horse racing enclosure, making full use of the space, were a mixture of rough grassland and short turf, with the going quite firm. Despite all the recent rain, there were only a few patches of mud and soft ground and it made for some fast races, and a trap for the unwary if they took the first few kilometres at too fast a pace.
In the senior women`s race, over 8k too, Eleanor Davis finished an excellent 7th in a high quality field. She crossed the line in 28.32, with Mhairi Maclennan of Morpeth retaining her title from 2018. Jenny Wren broke into the top 100 and finished in 94th in 34.24. Emma Essex-Crosby, Vicki Sherrington, Olga Wiggins, Sue Wickham and Judith Deakin all ran too.
Earlier, Darcey Lonsdale had finished 21st in the u17 women’s race. The u17 men took 5th place in the team placings, Matthew Fazackerley having a wonderfully strong race, as he finished in 6th place in 19.53 over the 6.4k course. The other team counters were Liam Blackwell (39th), Jack Campy (61st), and Harry Everett (67th), with Ben Preddy right behind in 68th. The u15 girls were 7th team, whilst the u15 boys were 9th. Tom Durney, running well, finished in the top twenty, with a time of 13.18 over 4k and 18th place.
The senior men`s race, the final event of the day, had 704 finishers who had to complete 12k, over three long laps. On the first lap, a group of over twenty kept together at the front, with Dan Bebbington right up there. Slowly, as the race hit the second lap, some of the initial pace setters started to drop away and then gaps started to appear at the front of the race. Bebbington ran an astute race, and he finished 7th in 39.17, just ahead of his Mid-Lancs league rival, James Douglas of Border Harriers. Andy Benson finished in 80th in 42.18 and the remaining team counters, from a high turn-out, were Richard Smith, Wesley Wilkinson, Lee Foley & Simon Robinson. This year`s men’s champion was Emile Cairess of Leeds, with last year’s winner, Carl Avery of Morpeth, finishing 2nd. As the last finishers came in, amid the courses being dismantled, the sky darkened noticeably, and quite soon, the later forecast rain started.