English National Cross Country Championships
Sunday 27th February 2022
Whilst the weather was sunny and cool, the previous weeks rain had given the course a gloopy feel underfoot which made for tough running, expecially in the mass start up the 400m long forst hill.
Stand out Phoenix performance of the day was by 11 year old Katherine Haslip, the South of England 3rd placer, who battled back from a stumble at the start. After finding herself down in the high 20's as they reached the top of the starting hill, she climbed through the field steadily and had joined the group who were chashing the leader, 20metres in front, as they reached the steepest part of the second hill. By the time they reached the highest and driest part of the course, she had closed on the leader and shadowed her all the way down to the finish run-in, but the leader from Milton Keynes was able to hold off Katherine's finishing sprint. A fabulous 2nd place and the silver medal with two years still to run in this age group is one of Phoenix's stand-out results in this event since the club was formed in the 1981.
In the U15 Boys, Owen Wallek, after his second place in the South of England Championships, was looking for a top 10 finish and he too suffered in the washing-machine-effect of the mass start, finding himself right in the middle of the 250 strong field as they all jostled for position ready for the right turn at the top of the hill .But another gutsy run, took him into the 20's on the downhill part of the course where the mud was at its gloopiest. By the time they reached the top of the second hill he had fought his way to 12th place and was moving forward determinedly. On the second lap the additional effort of catching-up began to tell and 6th became 7th, but he was never in danger of losing that spot and held on well for a fantastic 7th, which in this highest class race in the country is an amazing position and just reward for an athlete who trains consistently and is always willing to learn. Behind o/wen Raph Reed and Matthew Noakes battled hard throughout the race for 116th and 126th which any runner of that age should be justly proud of.
In the Under 15 girls race we fielded 5 athletes, enough to finish a scoring team and ended the day in 34th place, with Imogen Read and Esme Palmer-Malins leading the Phoenix contingent home.
Tara Bage led the Senior women home in a very good 62nd and Sam Peters was first man home in 286th.