Why the stats prove Millar’s ‘National’ run was top class

ANYONE who has even run the senior men’s race at the English National Cross Country Championships will know what a quality run Jack Millar delivered in finishing fifth last weekend.

The Bristol & West AC runner, who has already won the South West title and claimed the bronze at the Midlands this winter, admitted he exceeded his own hopes by beating his previous best of 10th two years ago.

“This was the race I have targeted for some time and have prepared meticulously with my coach Dave Bedwell,” said Millar (pictured left).

“However, to finish fifth surpassed my expectations.”

To illustrate just how good Millar’s run was let’s take a look back at previous big achievers for Bristol & West AC and before that Bristol AC.

And when it comes to making the podium the stats prove it takes a runner of special quality, usually in the international class, to win a medal in this Blue Riband event of the cross country calendar.

So, who has won a medal in the past 50 years? It is a short but illustrious list.

2005 Rob Whalley SILVER

1992 Deon McNeilly BRONZE

1980 Nick Rose GOLD

1979 Rose BRONZE

1972 Roger Clark SILVER

1963 Eddie Strong BRONZE

So just five medal winners with two for Olympian and ex-World record holder Rose, arguably the greatest make runner ever to emerge from the city and south west. The other lads were top class performers too,

Bottom line- winning a medal in the ‘National’ is incredibly tough.

Millar’s performance was actually the best by a B&W runner for 16 years when Whalley (pictured right) placed fourth.

Since then only Kevin Heywood (eighth, 2007), Tom Russell (sixth, 2010), Will Christofi (ninth, 2018) and Millar himself two years ago have made the top ten.

In addition, only Peter Le Grice (19th, 2019), Phil Wylie (20th, 2012 and 17th 2011), Robbie Bugden (16th, 2011), Russell (19th, 2011), Heywood (12th, 2005 and 2006) have squeezed into the top twenty.

Millar is still improving so who knows, maybe over the next few years he can add his name to that illustrious list of medal winners.