Derby AC man wins again after last month’s Cardiff Cross Challenge success while Reading runner takes women’s race at Teardrop Lakes
The second round of this season-long series on Saturday (Nov 13) saw a repeat victory in the men’s race for Hugo Milner to follow on from his ‘win’ on the first age of the previous week’s Saucony English Cross Country Relays at Mansfield.
The women’s event saw Jess Gibbon move up from third in Cardiff to take a narrow win over the Cardiff runner-up Jenny Nesbitt, as Kate Avery took third as the Cross-Challenge joined forces with the Chiltern League.
At Cardiff Milner had to overcome a race long challenge from Omar Ahmed and here in Milton Keynes the Derby runner had to fend off a last lap surge from Zak Mahamed, whose brother Mahamed won this event at Teardrop Lakes the last time the event was here in 2019.
Only fourth in Cardiff, Mahamed laid off of the initial pace as Milner, Dan Jarvis, Alasdair Kinloch and Jonathan Escalante-Phillips were ahead going out on to the first of three circuits behind the Teardrop Lake.
On the second lap, Milner and Mahamed were neck and neck as the rest of the field had drifted off the pace, with Kinloch looking to wind up a likely third. On the final lap, as Jarvis had moved up to clear third, Mahamed took the lead and opened up a 10-metre gap, before Milner rallied and eventually surged clear down the finishing straight to win by about 15 metres.
He said: “We were more or less side by side but he dropped me on the back, it was similar to Cardiff where Omar (Ahmed) dropped me.”
But victory was his and the Derby man then revealed that he was moving into triathlon although he will be at Sefton Park for the Euro Cross Trials later this month.
Mahamed said: “I had stitch on the second lap and then led but he (Milner) picked it up.”
Third-placed Jarvis added: “I was fifth in the last National and have had some good races but this was my first cross-country of the season. Those boys got a bit of a gap so I had a bit of a lonely run.”
Near the finish Kinloch lost out to Sam Dickinson as Matt Stonier just got the nod on Angus McMillan for sixth.
Hamish Armit took the under-20 men’s gold as his age group ran with the under-17s and had a narrow victory over Liam Rawlings and Osian Perrin, with Jacob Deacon, back in seventh, comfortably heading Cardiff Challenge winner Ben Peck for under-17 gold.
Deacon said: “I have had a very good training block and have been doing a lot of mountain running and hope to get the 10km road British (U17) record which is 31:50 and the 5km”.
Under-17 winner Rawlings said: “I felt good so I thought I would go for it but I can still get fitter.”
Robert Price led the under-15 boys’ race from the gun so it was a surprise that his margin at the finish was less than 50 metres over Craig Shennan but it was a repeat of his Cardiff win. “I wanted to get off fast and try to lead the whole way but that hill was really hard,” he said.
It was a similar story for under-13 winner Will Birchall, who repeated his victory from the first match of the series with a useful margin over hosts Milton Keynes’ Jacque Smith. He said that he did not expect to win as he “felt a bit dizzy.”
Gibbon beats Nesbitt and Avery
In the women’s race Gibbon eventually took the race from Nesbitt and Avery but was only third in Cardiff behind Charlotte Arter and Nesbitt. Here she was evident at the front of the pack from the start but it was Nesbitt and Hannah Irwin, who showed ahead going out behind the lake with Gibbon hot on their heels in third. Avery, sixth in Cardiff, was back in about eighth.
Nesbitt stayed ahead of Gibbon on the last and bigger lap with Avery an isolated third having moved up after Irwin had dropped back, before Gibbon pounced to take the tape by about 40 metres,
The Reading 25-year-old said: “I really just tried to sit in and see what pace it went off at, but it was not the type of course I would usually like with all its short sharp hills.”
Nesbitt said: “I knew Jess was strong going into the race but I wanted to make it hard. Liverpool is the target but today showed me where I am.”
Once again, as is custom in the Chiltern League, the under-20 and under-17 women ran together and it was Megan Keith the winner in Cardiff who dominated from the start. The Inverness Harrier was soon going clear of Tonbridge’s Charlotte Alexander as top under-17 Jess Bailey briefly contested second overall, ahead of Alice Garner, before securing her own gold over Nicole McGovern.
Keith said: “I wanted to have a good strong finish but the lead wasn’t the plan but I am happy with the way it was executed.”
Bailey was pleased with her success and said: “I got injured five minutes before the start and had to borrow a friend’s sock for my Achilles, but it all came together and I was aiming for first under-17.”
Local Milton Keynes runner Sophie Jacobs had a narrow under-15 girls’ win over fellow Chiltern League runner Phoebe Gill, who said: “Towards the end I started going harder at the front after the pack kept changing.”
In the under-13 girls’ race Swansea’s Libby Hale was another to repeat her victory from the opening round of the series and did so from three Milton Keynes runners, who moved up in tandem with Katie Webb taking second ahead of Sophia Chapman and twin sister Lauren. Hale said: “I haven’t raced these girls before but it was good.”
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