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mccain cardiff cross challenge

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McCain Cardiff Cross Challenge 2012

15 January 2012

The McCain Cardiff Cross Challenge - the third instalment in the McCain Cross Challenge Series - delivered yet another top day of cross country in Blackweir Fields, this time on a crisp sunny winters day, and saw Frank Tickner (Self) retain his title in the senior men's race, despite pressure from youngster Jonny Hay (Coach: Mick Woods) who made another sprint finish.

Junior Men
The McCain Cardiff Cross Challenge kicked off with the U20 Men, in the 6.8k race which included three large laps of the course.

Harvey Dixon (Coach: Mick Woods) made his way to the front of the leading pack in the first lap, closely followed by Chris Carpanini and Ian Bailey (Mick Woods), plus Dixon’s England Teammates - Luca Russo, Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon) and Joshua Grace (Mick Woods) – who were packing in well in behind.

By the second lap the front pack had split with Dixon and Seddon working together at the front, followed by Bailey three seconds behind, plus Grace and Bradley Goater (Noel Stoddart) trying to make up the gap.

But it was Dixon who cranked it up another notch in the third and final lap, pulling away with a 16 second lead as he crossed the finish line in 25:16 to take the first title of the day in the McCain Cross Challenge.

After crossing the finishing line he said, “I felt really good going into the race, I knew I was in great shape. I planned to stay in the front group and see what happened in the first lap, see how I felt and push off a bit on the second lap.

“The pace was fairly easy at the start and I just went into the lead and held it ever since. It was the last lap where I pushed it on more and got a bit more of a lead, but it felt close towards the end, Zak was there pushing me on.”

Final top five placings:
Harvey Dixon (Aldershot) 25:16
Ian Bailey (Aldershot Farnham & District) 25:32
Zak Seddon (Bracknell AC) 25:44
Joshua Grace (Aldershot) 25:45
Edward Shepherd (Herts Phoenix AC) 25:46

Junior Women
The Junior Women’s race got underway with Annabel Gummow (Self) and Jennifer Walsh (Deborah Rowlands) making their way to the front on their first large lap of the 4.6k course.

The pair had gained a five second lead coming into the second lap, with Abbie Hethernigton (Frank Davidson), Jess Chen (Gerry Borth) and Hanna Tarver (Daivd Jeffs) chasing.

As they ran through St.John woodlands Gummow had gained some pace, pulling away from Walsh with ten seconds clear.

Gummow looked strong coming into the last 200m of the course and finishing in 16:35 of which she was really pleased and said, “I was really unwell last week, and I decided not to race last minute (at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country), so it was just nice to get back out there and race again. Not exactly one of my favourite courses, it’s really flat and fast so I to just come out here and win, I am really happy with that.

“I stuck back a bit at the start, but nobody else was taking it on so I thought it would give me a good run up whatever happens. I’m just building up to the national now and hopefully I am running in Antrim next weekend in the senior women’s race, so that will be good experience for me and a bit of a longer course.”

Final top five placings:
Annabel Gummow (Bristol & West) 16:35
Jennifer Walsh (Spenborough) 16:46
Jess Chen (Portsmouth AC) 17:27
Abbie Hetherington (Carlisle Aspatria) 17:33
Hanna Tarver (Wirral AC) 17:43

Senior Men
The Senior Men’s 10.1k race was the busiest of the McCain Cross Challenge in Cardiff and ran two small and three large laps.

Dean Lacy (Mark Newell) went off hard on the first lap to lead a group of athletes said to be in contention to win including Jonny Hay (Mick Woods) and all four of the England runners – Frank Tickner (Self), Adam Hickey (Ron Dawson), Ashley Harrell (Tim Ash) and Neilson Hall.

By the second lap Lacy had dropped back making way for Tickner and his England teammates to take the lead and were closely followed by Hay, plus Glen Watts (George Harrison) and Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans) who had moved up the field.

Hay moved up to sit on Tickner’s shoulder while Hickey had moved into third place with Hall in fourth, but as they came round into the fourth lap, Tickner had begun to kick, showing his form and took a five second lead.
With Tickner pushing on, he finished in 32:10 ahead of Hay (32:16) in second and Hickey (32:23) in third where the crowd enjoyed another sprint finish from Hay - reminiscent of his finish just last week at the Bupa Great Edinburgh 3km Cross Country - to overtake Hickey in the last few 100 metres.

Following the race Tickner said, “I had a bit of an unconfident week, as on Monday after the Bupa Great Cross in Edinburgh I got a tweak in my heel, which has been a problem for the last three years. But I had three days completely off and had a few jogs at the back end of this week and it seemed to not be reacting, so I thought I would race and hopefully it won’t react tomorrow.

“It started very very quick, Neilson Hall took it out incredibly quick and I went the wrong way a bit on the corner going into the woodland, but came back into I think in 10th and worked my way back through and Dean Lacy took it on for a bit,” he added.

When asked about Hay being on his shoulder for a good lap, Tickner replied saying, “Ominous signs I think, he is very difficult to shake off and when you do shake him off he has that incredible finish, which he did just then.”

Final top five placings:
Frank Tickner (Wells City) 32:10
Jonathan Hay (Aldershot Farnham & Disctict) 32:16
Adam Hickey (Southend) 32:23
Ashley Harrell (City of Norwich) 32:33
Neilson Hall (Bedford & County) 32:39

Senior Women
The Senior Women’s 6.8k race saw three large laps of the course, which throughout the day stayed in perfect cross country condition.

Going out strong in the first lap was Rachel Underhill, with the England Team – Lauren Howarth (Bud Baldaro), Emily Pidgeon (Andrew Hobdell), Juliet Doyle (Roy Stowell) and Katrina Wootton (Andrew Hobdell) - packing in well closely behind.

But the second lap saw a determined Howarth make a surge to take a six second lead ahead of Wooton, Caryl Jones and Naomi Taschimowitz (Charlotte Fisher) in second, third and fourth respectively.

For the third and final lap Howarth had advanced with a lead of 17 seconds to finish in 24:18 followed by Wooton, Jones and Taschimowitz who stayed in their second, third and fourth positions.

Pleased with her win, Howarth said, “I am very pleased, it shows that I am getting back to some kind of fitness, that I had like last April.

“I had a good block of winter training. I have suffered with knee problems, so fingers cross it doesn’t flare back up, but once it had cleared up I managed to get some consistent training in for once which helped me today.

“I enjoyed the course, it was nice flat and fast, so now I am looking forward to the Northern Cross with a bit of a confidence boost.”

Final top five placings:
Lauren Howarth (Leigh H) 24:18
Caryl Jones (Swansea Harriers) 24:35
Katrina Wootton (Bedford & County) 24:49
Naomi Taschimowitz (Taunton AC) 24:53
Rosie Smith (Durham H) 25:04

The next McCain Cross Challenge will take place on Saturday 21 January 2012 in Greenmount, Antrim, Northern Ireland. To read the preview, please click here.

Watch a highlights video from the day's action here.