National XC (27/02/2018)

Tony Phillips continues to report on the 2017/18 cross country season with his thoughts from the National on Saturday.

"The National Cross country Championships were held at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath , London, a course that has seen some of the triumphs of Tipton Harriers in their winning of The National. Brendan Foster, who I met at the reception, described it as 'the 'true heart of running'; he won the event in 1977, and enjoyed cross country that played a large part in his highly successful career. Nick Hoult a journalist and club runner described the course as 'pure unadulterated endurance running', when ' you can run alongside the best club runners in the country - even if briefly'. So think of what you have missed if you haven't turned out for the club to run in the championships, that had a record number of competitors in most age groups, including the senior men's when 2328 finished and the senior women's with 1113 finishers; there were records in the younger age groups of boys and girls, but Tipton were not among them. Tipton won their first National title at Parliament Hill in 1961 when the Junior men's team were triumphant, and the senior men's team followed with a record score to win the title for the club for the first time in 1969 - the celebrations that followed will be remembered by those who had the privilege to be there on that historical day for Tipton Harriers. In 1981 Tipton won again run over a snow covered course. In 1993 David Payne finished second in the senior men's race after a great run, just failing to become Tipton's second winner following Jack Holden's four wins, the last in 1946. but in 2003 Matt Smith did become Tipton's second National winner, and at Parliament Hill, with a brilliant run.

Following a successful cross country season for the senior men who won the Midland 7 Championship, the Midland Cross Country Relay, finished third in the Midland CC Championships, and finished runners up in the Birmingham and District Cross Country League, to the winners Loughborough University , where I was a lecturer for several years, the strongest university team in the country, who took 58 students to the recent BUCS Championships, a good performance by Tipton was anticipated.

Members of the successful senior men's team included Joe Smith, Peter Brookes and Philip Wilson, who tackled the hard course with determination., on a day that was sunny, very cold with a keen breeze. It was a course of two large laps of Parliament Hill over a distance of 12 kilometres, with a winding course, including hills, wet ,flat grassland, mud and bog- a real test of endurance. Joe and Peter were among the leading section of the large field of runners, and not far behind was Phil Wilson, then a gap before Steve Corbishley appeared in the upper part of the field, then Adam Solely not too far behind, a big gap had opened before the club's last counter was seen, Myles Wilson tackling the hard going in the third quarter of the runners, Joe kept his position in the first hundred with a strong run in, 84th in 43m.11 secs.., Peter lost a little ground but was 151st, 44m. 29 secs., followed by Philip Wilson, 206th, 45m.29 secs. making up places towards the end. Stephen Corbishley, 402nd, 47m. 52 secs. held his placing after the earlier parts of the race, while Adam Solely had a determined run following injuries to finish 526th, 49m. 10 secs., and the team count was completed by Myles Wilson placing 1828th in 63 mins. 16 secs. after a valiant run. The team finished 46th, a disappointing end to the season.

162 teams completed. The individual winner was Adam Hickey from Southend AC, Andrew Maud, runner-up from local club Highgate Harriers, and John Gilbert, Kent AC third, with the first northern runner Peter Huck from Barrow AC in fourth place, and first Midland runner William Christofi, 9th from Bristol AC..

The Team positions were: winners Tonbridge AC 131 pts. 2.Bristol and West 291 3.Aldershot,Farnham, and Dist. 314

Tipton's senior women had three competitors tackling the demanding course, Susannah Davies, 176th, Cath Holden, 235th and Penny Barber , completed the course, one short of a team; no other age group completed a team. A disappointment considering the record turnout for the championships, particularly for the senior men who had 50 runners turning out in the league races, and eight at Parliament Hill.

While the English championships were being held in London,. Gareth Griffiths travelled to the Welsh Cross Country Championships at Swansea, where he finished a great 4th - well done young Gareth, you are showing the way!"

Results (English XC)

Results (Welsh XC - Senior Men)