Now McGrath is setting his sights on South West success

IN-FORM Bristol & West AC runner Felix McGrath is hoping to start the new year in the same fashion as he ended 2021.

McGrath will line up for the South West Cross Country Championships at RNAS Merryfield near Taunton today (Sunday January 2) among the medal favourites after two rousing victories to close the old year.

McGrath followed up his success at the Tri-Counties Cross Country Championships at Bath University before Christmas by winning the Clevedon 4 miles title on Boxing Day, repeating the success he enjoyed two years ago when the race was last held.

Three races on successive weekend will test McGrath’s fitness but he is clearly reveling the challenge.

Defending champions: Felix McGrath (centre) led Bristol & West AC to team success at the South West Cross Country Championships two years ago

“I’m going into the South West event with a bit of form and two good wins under my belt,” said McGrath, who had a great tussle with clubmate Jack Bancroft.

“The Clevedon race is one of my favourites with the big crowds, good organisation and also some really good runners.

“This week I’m just trying to keep myself fresh but still ticking over before Sunday. You never know who might turn up for this race and in addition when I last raced there for the English Schools’ Championships about ten years ago I remember it was quite a flat course.

“Also, the senior men’s trace on Sunday is quite short at 7k and that doesn’t suit my strengths but we’ll give it a go.”

Two years ago McGrath was only beaten by rising star Jake Smith, who went on to represent GB at the World Half Marathon Championships, so no disgrace there at all.

Just as importantly he led the Bristol & West team charge as they packed their first six runners into the top 11, with clubmate Kurt Taylor third, Andy Watt fifth, Ben Westhenry sixth, Harry Allen (10th) and Owain Jones (11th) to dominate the team competition beating Cornwall AC by 115 points.

Team manager Mike Down has targeted this event again and is determined to retain their crown as the best in the west. Likewise, the club’s women will be looking to regain the title they won two years ago when Isabelle Talbot-Price, Natalie Griffiths, Annabel Granger and Catie O’Donoghue lifted the crown.

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