The culmination of hard work over the autumn semester had come to this; Leeds Cross Country Relays. We took a 25 strong team up to West Park, a change of venue to previous years. The new course presented a challenging test for all athletes with a mix of light gradients, muddy sections and a very distracting social sec wielding a megaphone.
A small but stacked women’s field toed the line to contest the first race and an alarming pace was set from the moment the gun went. A group of four containing our very own winner from Holme Pierrepont Hannah Novakovic began to break clear in the early stages, with Beth Neal and Emily Starman in pursuit. Sadly the early pace took its toll as Hannah faded in the latter stages to finish 8th but still posted an extremely swift 12.39, with Beth and Emily following home in 19th and 23rd with times of 14.02 and 14.28 respectively. Taking over from Hannah, the ever consistent Kiri Marsh picked up a place to finish in 13.01 and handed to Megan Gildea to bring it home. A superb leg of 12.48 meant picking up one final place to bring the team home in 6th and demonstrate our strength in depth with what was an entirely different A team to that of Manchester Relays. Strong runs and a tremendous hobble from everyone’s favourite VP Katie meant our other women’s teams both pulled through the field throughout the race finishing 16th and 21st.
Off the back of a stellar performance at Manchester, Jack Millar led our men’s team from the front again. A well-judged start led to him picking up places later in the race, bringing him to the front of the pack. With his eyes lighting up with the success which might ultimately befall him, he had a slip even Steven Gerrard would be proud of, as he tumbled to the floor on a muddy section of the course. Definitely nothing to do with ruckus generated by Jack Allison and his new favourite toy… Rushing to get back up again, Millar slipped once more on the ice-rink like surface, sadly costing precious time and much momentum. Despite this he soldiered on to record a thoroughly impressive time of 10.04, finishing 10th, but it was certainly an opportunity that went awry. Tom McGuinness quickly put us back in our rightful place as he swiftly ate up the miles to put us back into 6th with a run of 10.16. Nathan Gibson then held his position well against many competitive runners behind, holding 6th with a 10.42 but unfortunately it was not a position we could quite maintain as we dropped back into 9th place by the finish, with just a few valuable seconds costing us, despite Adam Thorpe running 10.40.
First leg was tightly contested between our second and third teams, with Dylan Stanway leading out Will Patterson for the whole race. However a late charge from Will resulted in him coming home just 2 seconds ahead with a brilliant 11.00. A particularly classy run came from Rob Middlewick, running 11.05 helping our B team to finish 28th overall and a strong debut by Joe McLeod also rewarded him with a fast time of just 11.42. Alex Gardner took full inspiration from our president Jack Millar when it came to how to deliver the complete performance and not only crossed the line in a quick time of 12.34, but also with a rather muddy right leg.
I greatly appreciate everybody’s efforts on the day, particularly Jack Allison and Adam Houchell for their brilliant supportive techniques. It was yet another fantastic event and a great way to end the term, but now we must build. BUCS Cross Country is on the horizon.