THE English Cross Country Championships is an unforgiving event with just four runners scorching around a super-fast 5k course at Berry Hill Park, Mansfield.
“You need your four best guys fit for this event,” said Bristol & West AC team manager Mike Down.
Less than that and there is little chance of making the top ten let along figuring on the podium.
The B&W squad comprising Jack Millar, Adam Stokes, Felix McGrath and Will Parkin was solid but with various key personnel unavailable it wasn’t the best on paper that the club could field.
On the day they competed bravely to finish 18th of the 172 teams but as regular top ten finishers that was obviously a backward step.
“It was our lowest for 13 years,” admitted Down.
But as always there are plus points. Despite falling and having to take time out to put back on his spiked shoe Millar bounced back with great determination and over the second lap moved his way up the field to eventually finish 15th, his time of 15:44 the fastest on the day by the club.
Stokes was only brought into the team during the week and while his form this year has been excellent this proved not to be his day and he slipped back through the field to finish in 33rd after clocking 17:14.
The experienced McGrath pulled back eight places up to 25th clocking 16:28 and handed over to Parkin, who amazingly was making his debut after a late promotion into the team.
“It was not only his debut but also his first cross country race so to finish just 10 seconds slower than Felix was a terrific achievement,” said Down.
“He is a real talent and I think he will improve rapidly.”
The B team of Andy Salmon, former GB under 23 international Will Christofi, team captain Owain Jones and Andy Watt did well to make the top fifty in 48th.
English Cross Country Relays, Mansfield
Senior women: 1 Aldershot, Farnham & District AC 30:21.
33 Bristol & West AC 34:36 (H Pollak 11:09 (36); Lucy Wallace 11:35 (33); J Mackie 11:51).
Senior men: 1 Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 1:02.58
18 Bristol & West AC 1:06.07 (Jack Millar 15:44 (15); Adam Stokes 17:14 ( 33); Felix McGrath 16:28 (25); W Parkin 16:40).
48 B&W B 1:09.58 (A Salmon 17:39 (81); Will Christofi 17:58 (71); Owain Jones 16:59 (60); Andy Watt 17:21).
144 teams finished.
Under 20 men: 1
41 Bristol & West AC 30:44 (Ollie Harper 10:33; Steve Kerfoot10:02; Rufus Thomas10:08).
Under 17 men:
57 Bristol & West AC 34:10 (N Pestell 10:18; J Hull 11:48; I Rashid 12:03).