Twelve Isle of Man athletes – seven from Manx Harriers and five from Northern AC – turned out in the colours of Lancashire at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships 2017. It was the biggest-ever Manx representation in the Lancashire team at the event. There was local interest in seven of the ten races, which were held at a new venue at Prestwold Hall just outside Loughborough.
Many of the athletes suffered travel problems the day before the race, and some on the return journey. Nevertheless all 12, six of whom were debuting at county level, ran extremely well and produced some impressive results on an undulating course that became very muddy in places as the day progressed.
Participation in the event is by selection only, so there was quality right through the fields. The majority of the races had fields ranging from 260 to just over 300, with the exception of the junior women which had 183. Distances ranged from 3 kilometres for the under-13s to 12k for the senior men.
The first race with Manx interest was the senior women’s event, in which Elissa Morris ran with great commitment to place 113th on her county debut. Gail Griffiths finished 126th, a fine run and remarkably her highest ever finish on her eighth appearance at the event.
Next came the u17 women’s race in which Laura Dickinson executed a well-judged race to finish in 100th place, a really impressive run from a hard-working athlete. The junior (u20) women followed, a race in which Becky Storrie placed 34th and Katie Astin 44th. Becky’s performance on county debut was arguably the run of the day from the local contingent to complete a highly successful winter season, while Katie continued her comeback from injury with a solid run.
The u13 girls followed, with another county debutant Ella Crowe running extremely well to place 194th in a field of over 300. The experience of running in such a competitive and tightly-packed field will be invaluable as she continues her development.
The first male race involving the locals followed with David Mullarkey placing 48th and George Dickinson 129th in the u17 men’s category. David, although not quite at his best, still ran with typical determination and plenty of quality, while George produced a really notable result to finish well in the top half of the field having only received a late promotion from reserve three days before the race to make his county debut.
The penultimate race was the u15 girls, featuring three of the Northern AC team who won the Lancashire title in January. Lorna Spiers finished 148th, while debutants Phoebe Coates and Kate Cashin came home in 182nd and 236th places. Kate only received her call-up a few days before the event. All ran with total commitment and should be proud of their efforts.
The final race of the day, as is traditional, was the senior men’s event. Alan Corlett, back from a recent injury problem, proved that he is getting close to full fitness again with a run of trademark guts and determination. Ever the team man, his 98th place helped the Lancashire team to pack well and place seventh in the team race.