With BUCS Cross Country looming large the final instalment of the North Midlands Cross Country League was always going to provide for an interesting watch. This race provided the final measure of performance for all athletes wanting to run in the famous green & gold vests before the biggest university race of the year.
In good conditions, six University of Nottingham athletes lined up for the start of the women’s race. Having finished as the second University of Nottingham athlete at the Derby and Kettering races, Amber Reed looked to go one better by leading the University home on a familiar course. However, Megan Gildea provided another improved run and both athletes were neck and neck going into the final one hundred meters. In a Korir-esque sprint (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/38545205
) Megan strode ahead of Amber to finish 18th in a time of 24.28 whilst Amber finished three seconds behind in 20th place. Outside of the individual battles, Hannah Fleet rounded up the women’s team performance by finishing 30th in a time of 25.40. This meant that the women’s team finished a notable 4th for the Wollaton Park fixture.
However, the impressive performances didn’t end there. Charlotte Richardson finished 38 places higher than she did in the first North Midlands fixture in a time of 25.52 (37th). Hayley Mills, in her first North Midlands race, just missed out on a top 50 finish finishing 53rd in a time of 26.44. Fiona Starkie rounded off a good race by finishing 61st in a time of 27.14.
With the women’s race wrapped up, the 16 Nottingham University athletes amassed at the starting line for the men’s race. However, for this race there was an added dynamic. Three places were available for the Universities ‘A’ team at BUCS Cross Country. As it turned out, some athletes thrived and others took a distinct nose dive in the face of this opportunity.
With most athletes getting involved in a borderline sprint for the first 400 meters, Aki Kitagawa ran a controlled race pulling past the initial front runner Adam Houchell. In fact, despite being outside the top 20 for the first half a mile Aki pulled his way through the field to finish 3rd in a time of 34.54. A textbook run meant that the Aki effectively guaranteed his spot in the men’s ‘A’ race for BUCS Cross Country. Having headed the University runners for the first mile or so, Adam Houchell also held up well and whilst he couldn’t hold onto Aki, he stayed well clear of the rest of his teammates. Adam finished 12th in a time of 36.33 and now looks good for the BUCS A race. Finally, first year runner Nathan Gibson managed to finish as the third-place University runner with a time of 37.04 (18th) which puts him in pole position to take that final spot in the BUCS ‘A’ race.
Of the other performances that stood out, Robert Middlewick provided yet another impressive performance to finish 32nd in a time of 37.58. Rounding up the impressive second place team finish for the Universities men’s team Will Morris finished 41st in a time of 38.18. Bruce Beckett (46th), George Russell (60th), Daniel Cresswell (63rd),Sam Broomhead and Will Bloomer (94th) all also provided outstanding runs in a good field to finish top one hundred. Conor Vale (129th), Ewan McLachlan (131st), Allan Wilson (195th) and Michael Gaynor (222) capped off a good season of North Midlands races.
And yes, there were sixteen athletes who started the race not fourteen. Unfortunately, Adam Thorpe who had been going toe to toe with Nathan for the third spot in the BUCS ‘A’ race was unfortunate to roll his ankle going into the final kilometre. This forced him to drop out. I also dropped out.
Our final finish to the North Midlands Cross Country season was a good one and added another podium finish to the first two provided by Jack Millar at the Derby and Kettering races. Things are looking good for BUCS Cross Country in two weeks’ time!