Champions! (L to R): Harry Allen, Ben Westhenry, Felix McGrath, Andy Watt and Kurt Taylor.
THERE were smiles aplenty among the Bristol & West AC team management as both their senior men’s and women’s teams retained their team titles at the South West Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships.
Mike Down, Chris Elson and Keith Brackstone have overseen a hugely successful period in the club’s history and have always set great importance on winning this regional event that marks the start of a new year.
“Since this competition as re-structured under England Athletics around 15-16 years ago the senior men have won the team title every year and I am very proud of that,” said Down.
“On Sunday we had a few of our top guys missing but such is out strength in depth now that we had still had plenty of firepower.”
Digging deep: Felix McGrath leads Ed Knudsen
Reigning Tri Counties champion Felix McGrath, relishing the big climb on each of the four laps, ran a faultless race to finish runner-up behind the hugely impressive GB Under 23 international Jake Smith.
Kurt Taylor judged his effort to perfection and underlined his improvement to finish third with Andy Watt fifth, Ben Westhenry sixth and Harry Allen, a reluctant cross country runner, competing the scoring in tenth.
In addition with the addition of Owain Jones in 11th and Jed Bartlett 13th – and taking out Dorset born runner Westhenry – the club also provided the entire winning team for Avon.
The women had to work a little harder to hold off a stronger Cornwall AC squad but the quartet of Isabelle Talbot Price, Natalie Griffiths, Annabel Granger, who all finished in the top ten and Catie O’Donoghue had the edge.
For good measure the same quartet comprised the Avon team that beat Devon and Wiltshire to retain that title.
Master class: Annabel Granger forces the pace from her younger team-mate Isabell Talbot Price
Granger, in particular, deserves great credit for her aggressive run to finish seventh and easily top veteran. It was a terrific run, one of the best of the day.
Also in the age group awards Bristol & West’s Jonathan Goodland was crowned over 60s champion while the Westbury Harriers’ pair of Oliver Beale and Mike Mewse both won bronze medals in the over 40s and over 60s classes.
Clevedon AC’s Helen Ball was runner-up in the over 55s age group and Westbury’s Lucy Richens won bronze in the over 35s.
South West Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships, Aldon Hill Country Park, Yeovil.
Senior men: 1 Jake Smith (Cardiff) 26:46; 2 Felix McGrath (B&W) 27:30; 3 Kurt Taylor 27:32; 4 Ed Knudsen (AVR) 27:35; 5 Andy Watt (B&W) 27:54; 6 Ben Westhenry (B&W) 28:01
Teams – clubs: 1 Bristol & West AC 20 (McGrath, Taylor, Watt, Westhenry, 10 Harry Allen); 2 Cornwall AC 135; 3 Westbury Harriers 181; 4 Avon Valley Runners 208; 5 Wells City Harriers 218; 6 Team Bath AC 231.
Counties: 1 Avon 34 (McGrath, Taylor, Watt, Allen, 11 Owain Jones, 13 Jed Bartlett); 2 Wiltshire 134 (Knudsen, 16 Michael Towler, 32 Aidan Daniel Team Bath, 33 Michael Beckett Salisbury, 42 Tommy Davies AVR, 57 Gary Dunstone Team Bath); 3 Cornwall 143.
M40: 1 Mark Jenkin (Bide) 28:11; 2 Johnny Gilby (Derby) 28:37; 3 Oliver Beale (WH) 29:10.
M50: 1 Jon James (Wells) 30:51; 2 Guy Woods (SWVets) 31:34; 3 Tony Roper (B&W) 33:25.
M60: 1 Jonathan Goodland (B&W) 36:05; 2 Tom Hutchison (TB) 37:50; 3 Mike Mewse (WH) 37:52.
Senior women: 1 Heidi Treganza (CAC) 21:06; 2 Courtney Howard (Ex, U20) 21:30; 3 Alice Murray-Gourlay (Taun) 21:34.
Teams – clubs: 1 Bristol & West AC 29 (5 Isabelle Talbot Price, 6 Natalie Griffiths, 7 Annabel Granger W45 1st, 18 Catie O’Donoghue); 2 Cornwall AC 49; 3 Avon Valley Runners 93 (20 Bethan Francis, 27 Gemma Knudsen,30 Veryan Cranston, 32 Jackie Rockliffe) ; 4 Westbury Harriers 146; 5 Tavistock Run Project 164; 6 Clevedon AC 185.
Counties: 1 Avon (Talbot Price, Griffiths, Granger, O’Donoghue) 60; 2 Devon 97; 3 Wiltshire (Murray-Gourlay, Francis, 24 Emma Hines Chippenham, Kudsen) 110.
W35: 1 Rachael Malthouse (Tav) 22:20; 2 Jo Meek (Winchester) 22:25; 3 Lucy Richens (WH) 23:50.
W45: 1 Annabel Granger (B&W) 22:19; 2 Emma Stepto (CAC) 22:33; 3 Julie Dixon (Bid) 23:07.
W55: 1 Diane Hier (AVR) 26:02; 2 Helen Ball (Clev) 27:53; 3 Linda Ashmore (Egdon HH) 33:38.