McCain Cross Country Challenge, Liverpool

At the Cross Challenge event in Liverpool’s Sefton Park on Saturday, Leeds City were well-represented in the senior races. With the meeting serving as the trial event for the European Cross-Country Championships, the field was very strong. James Walsh, after leading and forcing the pace for much of the race, finished 5th, just 7 seconds behind winner Andy Vernon and ahead of a host of the country’s best cross-country talent. As a result he has been selected for his first European Championships in Slovenia in 2 weeks.

Also gaining GB selection was James Wilkinson. He returned from an altitude training trip to Kenya and, despite a fall early in the race, finished 22nd and 6th U23, earning him selection for the U23 team. Not far behind, Simon Deakin and Dave Webb ran well in 29th and 34th. James Smith enjoyed one of his better races on the mud to finish 92nd, whilst Olly Ziff showed he is in excellent form in 100th. Fergus Meade came 118th and whilst Dale Worton might, based on recent form, be a little disappointed with 136th, this will have served as good experience.

It is worth noting that this race served as the play-off for the club to represent GB in the European Clubs Championship. If it wasn’t for an inexplicable last-minute rule change by UKA, Leeds City, as national champions, would have been representing England; however, that honour fell to Stockport as National XC Relay champions. A point was proved, however, as, with 4 in 34, Leeds were the leading club by some way.

In the women’s race, Katie Parry capitalised on her recent good form and was up amongst some very good company, finishing 39th in a strong field.