Northern XC Champs – Witten Park, Blackburn
Saturday 30th January 2016
Witton Park once again proved its status as one of the best cross country venues in the country with an excellent and tough test for all the athletes. The race route was described by many as a true cross country course and the wintry conditions of mud, hail and rain gave the event some extra spice!
In the Men’s Senior Race 719+ runners (across 52 teams) toed the line and were tasked with 4 loops of 1.81 miles – each loop comprised of two steep hills known locally as the “Saucer” which was the steepest climb (136 feet of climb) and the “T-spoon” (80 feet of climb) (Source: – Dave Jacksons Garmin watch data)
GB international Charlie Hulson (Sale Harriers) made his bid early and started to separate from an 8 man group at the end of lap 3 to finally cover the muddy, steep course in 43 mins 16 secs (5min 58 minute min / miling) – which on normal terrain would be worth at least “80 secs” per mile faster.
Our rising star Chris Farrell continues to shine and made a superb progression from 32nd position in last years race to 11th position this year. Only 3 seconds separated him from 10th position and 24 seconds from 6th position! This now provides a useful “performance and fitness indicator” and “confidence booster” as he starts to build now for a GB vest in the European and World Mountain Championships this summer. Chris remarked after the race “it was a brutal course, but brilliant”!!
Salford Harriers took the team honours, packing very tightly their 6 men, averaging out at only 20th position for each! This bodes well for their National XC championship campaign on the 27th February at Donnington Park, Leicestershire. Horwich RMI finished a credible 7th Team out of 52 but unfortunately we had some absences on the day which suggested we could have actually finished very close to a top 3 team finish with a full and healthy team! But well done to all the contributors to the team result and great to see two of our Vet 45s making up the numbers – brilliant!
Chris Farrell – 11th
Joe Mercer – 41st
James Kevan – 61st
Paul Massey -114th (Vet 45)
David Jackson – 117th (Vet 45)
Simon Pymm – 183rd
Under 17 Men
After a cautious start Luke Massey moved through the field using his natural hill strength to secure a credible 32nd position out of 105 finishers. He beat all his “local” opposition from the Greater Manchester squad and his next race will be the UK CAU Inter Counties XC Championship (Birmingham) on the 12th of March.
Finally, a mention must also go to the Rossendale & Pendle Mountain Rescue Team (RPMRT) who were kept busy on the day providing fantastic medical cover. This organisation delivers an enormously beneficial system of medical cover for events like this and deserves all the support that we can give from inside the sport.