Gwent Cross Country League at Blaise Castle (December)

North Somerset AC took 35 junior athletes, of whom only 10 were competing at the top of their age group, and 5 senior men to the 3rd Gwent Cross Country League fixture at a very windy Blaise Castle in Bristol.

U15 Megan McCrum, in only her 2nd race in two years, looked very comfortable to finish a commendable 24th, 18 places higher than her 1st runout in Cardiff last month. Bethany Routley, in her first ever cross country, showed great promise to finish 31st from a field of 58 runners, whilst Issy Gall did well to finish 36th after feeing unwell throughout the race.

Battling a strong headwind on a notoriously tough Blaise track, in form U11’s Guy Owen and William Maine showed great teamwork pushing each other through the field to register fantastic 5th and 6th places respectively. Louise Brunsdon was another feeling under par, but he too battled well to finish 46th, whilst bottom age twins Brodie and Louis Raymond enjoyed their first cross country experience in 57th and 61st respectively from a 77 strong field.

Bottom age Clara Finch in her first race had a terrific run to finish 16th in comfortable fashion from a field of 69 and will definitely be one to watch for the future. Next home was another bottom age athlete ‘Kiera Devereux’ hindered by an ankle injury, but still finished 42nd. Ever-present Tilly Ballantine finished close behind in 47thwith another newcomer Celia Galan next to cross the line in 53rd.

Promising young athlete Katie Phipps was clearly not feeling 100% on the day and was disappointed with her run, especially after running so well in her last race. Yet another debutant and bottom age athlete Maria Murray was next home in 56th, but unfortunately poor marshalling resulted in Keona Scrace and Freya Fitton-White being sent the wrong way, which was not great for their first cross country experience.

The U13 boys were led superbly by yet another bottom age athlete in Harrison Garland who had a fantastic run to finish 9th, 5 places higher than in the previous fixture at Cardiff. Emile Swanson looks another promising athlete and should be well pleased with his 36th place, as will Marcos Galan on his debut run in 42nd. Cameron Baker-Perry was next home in 54th with further bottom age debutants William Finch and Dylon Forbes enjoying the experience to finish 61st and 63rdrespectively.

The ever reliable Alice Bridger-Morales once again led her team around the course and will be pleased with her 13th place in such tough company. Ruby Owen supported her well and finished 19th with Connie Ballantine in 37th, Stephanie Brooks 40th and another debutant Alysha Forsbrook in 59th.

Luca Murray looks stronger with each race and his 13th place is proof that he is starting to fulfil his potential. Jaylan Bacon also had a good run to finish 22nd, and in his first race this season following a series of injuries Sam Cocker registered a very good 27th place. Kes Pitchers finished 33rd after cycling 30 miles in the morning and he was followed in by Alex Collins and Ryan Burton in 43rd and 47th respectively.

Orienteering International Cecilie Andersen had a rare outing in the U20 race and showed her endurance strength in the tough conditions for a fine 9th place.

The senior men were looking to reclaim top spot in their division and did so in fine fashion. Josh Davis hit the front from the off and stayed with the leaders throughout to register his highest Gwent League finish to date in 3rd place. James Rodgers got stuck in the pack at the start and it was always going to be a struggle to catch the leaders, but he worked his way well through the field and under the circumstances should be more than pleased with his 7th place. Alan Baker in his first cross country of the season ran extremely well for an excellent 62nd place with Dan Beazley also racing for the first time this season running solidly to finish 108th. Jonathan Flower completed the team scores with a very good 165th from a large field of over 350 runners.