17 athletes from the Isle of Man, one of the biggest ever local representations, competed at last Saturday’s English National Cross Country Championships held for the first time at Harewood House. The thousands of competitors who assembled at the picturesque country estate north of Leeds basked in gloriously warm and sunny weather more akin to early summer than February. The extraordinarily dry winter had ensured that the ground was firm everywhere, in keeping with this highly untypical cross country season. These conditions suited some more than others.
There were several terrific performances, making it difficult to pick one out as the best of the day by the Manx contingent. Perhaps that honour narrowly went to David Mullarkey, now Leeds-based so competing in what was a local event for him. His 14th place finish in the 10-kilometre Junior Men’s race was impressive indeed and one of his best-ever performances. He was part of the leading pack in the early stages, settling into a good rhythm once the leading runners had broken away and keeping calm and composed. A strong finish saw him cross the line in 14th place in a strong field of extremely good athletes.
For the first time in four years Manx Harriers were able to field a team in the Senior Men’s race, with the best six results to count for the team score. In a field of over two thousand runners, Alan Corlett produced yet another confident and assured run to finish in 62nd place, his best result to date at this event. Birmingham-based Stephen Garrett was 167th with a strong and committed run, and Jamie Beaman improved on last year’s position with 510th place.
Next came Ollie Dickinson in 709th, also his best result to date, followed by Andy Watson in 862nd and Andrew Falconer in 974th, the latter being delighted to break into the top half of the field. These six brought the team home in 46th place out of the 144 clubs that completed teams, a very creditable effort. Club stalwart Andy Fox completed the team in 1,168th place.
Ahead of the Manx Harriers contingent was Ollie Lockley who finished 42nd running for the very strong Leeds City team who won the gold medal in the team event. Ollie frustratingly just missed out, being the team’s seventh scorer. Southampton AC’s Max Costley finished in a very good 117th place.
Rachael Franklin produced another wonderful performance in the 8-kilometre Senior Women’s race, finishing in 24th place in a field of well over a thousand athletes. Working hard throughout but looking well in control, she held a position of around 30th halfway round the second of two laps before unleashing her usual surge at the end which gained several places. Manx Harriers teammate Elissa Morris, sporting a splendid pair of sunglasses, finished in a very respectable 105th place to improve on last year’s result by three places.
Sarah Astin, representing City of Norwich AC, was competing for the first time over the country this winter after injury, and finished in a solid 41st place. She was part of the bronze medal-winning team in the race, and aims to be fully race fit for the summer season.
Four female athletes competed in the younger age group races and all achieved positions well inside the top hundred. Laura Dickinson of Manx Harriers, in her eighth consecutive National, gave her all as always to complete the Junior Women’s race in 94th place.
Northern AC duo Lorna Spiers and Ella Crowe finished in 72nd and 87th places in the U17 Women’s and U15 Girls’ races respectively. Ella has had a fine season and ran as strongly as ever, and Lorna should be pleased with this result in a season during which she has not raced as much as usual.
The youngest of the locals in action was Macy Hillier who finished 81st in a field of over 400 in the U13 Girls’ race. She was representing WESPA (World Elite Sports Performance Academy).
Several Isle of Man athletes will be representing Lancashire at the Inter-Counties Championships in Loughborough a week on Saturday.
26 February 2019