CHELSEA Baker celebrated her debut in the Midland Counties Cross Country Championships by leading Bristol & West AC to a surprise team bronze medal.
Baker was not only running the Midlands for the first time – it was the first time she has ever raced a regional championships.
Indeed, a glance at her Powerof10 statistics and it is clear that Baker has rarely ventured onto the country and only once has she tackled a national event, placing 106th in the Inter Counties Championships last year.
But on the evidence of her hard-earned, impressive fourth place in the senior women’s race at Leamington Spa on Saturday Baker has a lot more to offer in this area if she choses to pursue it and can fit it in with her road running priorities.
But her run was certainly the inspiration the rest of the squad needed as the trio of Jessie Sanzo (18th), Catie O’Donoghue (29th) and Cadie Hibberd (37th) did just enough to beat top Birmingham club Birchfield harriers by 10 points – 88 to 98.
“I was really pleased with my result as I did not really know what to expect,” said baker.
“I soon realised I could not go with the three medallists, but to finish next has certainly raised my profile and given me a real shot in the arm.”
Loughborough club Charnwood AC were the champions (42pts) and also had the individual winner in international Gemma Steel while the silver medals went to Coventry Godiva Harriers (46pts).
The club’s other two finishers in the 180 strong field were Katie Strange (44th) and Kat Baldwyn (73rd).