Two Team NBMCR athletes were in action last weekend, with Andy Heyes starting off his cross country season at the English Cross Country Relays in Mansfield, and Jonny Mellor continuing his autumn road racing at Leeds Abbey Dash 10km.
Berry Hill Park in Mansfield has been the location of the English Cross Country Relays since 1989. It’s a popular event on the cross county calendar and this year saw more than 1000 teams brave the chilly weather and battle for team victory. What with the recent cold snap, the course was dry underfoot and relatively mud-free, which is quite unusual for British Cross Country! The rolling hills, along with some well manicured grass made for a fast course. The Senior Mens race (4 legs of 5km) was the last of the day, with Andy on first leg for his club Hallamshire. The race went out fast with Jonny Taylor (Morpeth) pushing the pace. After 2km Jonny, Andy and Zac Seddon had broken away, however the chasing group started to catch them at 3km and Phil Sesemann (Blackheath) latched onto Jonny and Andy. Over the last 800m Andy kicked for home and finished with a 14:47 clocking – his fastest ever on that course. Andy’s time of 14.47 remained the fastest of the day, and his team Hallamshire eventually finished 8th, their highest ever finish.
Next for Andy is Milton Keynes Cross Country Challenge where he will be joined by teammate Jamie Van Lieshout, who is making her debut appearance on the UK cross country scene.
Next up was Jonny, who continued his good form with first place finish at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10km. The race always attracts a high quality elite field due to the fast and flat nature of the course, and this year was no different with several international athletes and Olympians toeing the line to battle for the podium and chase some fast times in the Yorkshire City.
The weather for this years race was a less than ideal 3 degrees with heavy showers, to add to this there was a 20mph head wind for the first 5km so it was a pretty tactical affair early on. At the half way point there was still a group of over 20 athletes in the lead pack. With nobody wanting to push the pace or take the lead, 5km was reached in a relatively pedestrian 15:06. At around half way the course makes a U-turn and heads back in the opposite direction, it was at this point that the race begun to heat up with Ben Connor starting to push the pace along with a small breakaway group containing the likes of Graham Rush, Dewi Griffiths and Adam Hickey. At 7km Jonny really started to push the pace and with a 2:45 km split he started to break away at 8km. He held a 30m lead to the finish and the final time of 29:12 meant a swift wind assisted final 5km of 14:06.
Next for Jonny is the famous 7 Hills race in Holland over 15km – http://www.zevenheuvelenloop.nl/
Charlie and Eli are also in action this weekend, representing Wales at Cross de Atapuerca in Spain – http://www.crossatapuerca.com/nw/
Stay tuned for more results and pictures!