Southern cross-country championships, 26 January.

Parliament Hill is regarded as the spiritual home of cross country in the south of England and today conditions underfoot were unusually dry and mostly firm – although some parts soon loosened up after a battering by multitudes of tiny and not-so-tiny feet. A cold stiff breeze swept across the more open areas, but the rain mainly stayed away and overall conditions were pretty good for racing on this demanding course.

Under 13 girls

Our Under-13 girls got the day underway for us, with all three in their first year in the age group and making their debut in an event of this level and size. Izzy Martin was well-placed on the long opening climb and progressed from there to finish in a brilliant 5th place. Evey Powell continues to improve with every race and here finished 61st. Emily Betts opted for a steady start but then moved through to 214th as 316 finished.

Under 15 girls

The Under-15 girls were up next and the outstanding Beatrice Wood from Salisbury was a clear winner. Olivia Martin was in the middle of a terrific scrap, ending up an excellent 6th as just 2 seconds covered 4th – 7th. Georgie Halfhead was 76th, followed closely by Rosie Mullins in 88th as 291 crossed the line.

Under 20 women

Not for the first time, the Under-20 women provided the smallest field of the day, but it was stacked with quality. GB junior international Amelia Quirk came home first for Bracknell but was chased hard by fellow international Grace Brock from Cornwall. Fiona Bunn fought all the way to finish a fine 7th with two other women within a second of her after almost 25 minutes of battle. Katharine Harris was another locked in hand to hand (or should that be foot to foot) combat in 50th.

Under 17 women

Our Under-17 women were led in by Mieke Bedlington in 85th, followed by Anya Bromley in 116th and Izzie Jones 153rd, with all three showing an encouraging return to form.

Under 17 men

Alex Pennington was the first of our Under-17 men in 84th. Adam Ede suffered from the stomach pains that have plagued him on and off this season and showed great fortitude in seeing the race through in 127th. Kie Francis completed our trio in 185th. David Bunn was our only athlete in the Under-20 men, finishing 69th.

Senior women

The senior women's race was loaded with internationals, but Pippa Woolven of Wycombe swept all aside as she came home over a minute clear. Cordy Parker was our only competitor, finishing an excellent 60th after feeling “weak” throughout the race. Parly Hill has had that effect on many in the past and doubtless will do so again in the future. A whopping 703 women completed the course.

Senior men

Finally, on to the senior men. The southern region is the only one still retaining the once-traditional 9 – mile distance (and quite right too) though for the first time this year the course closed after a not-unreasonable 90 minutes. Once again we were treated to the stirring sight of the massive cavalry charge up the opening hill. Somewhere amongst this melee were Cameron Weir and Matt Hills, along with second-claimer Nigel Bunn. Cameron was 560th and Matt 660th with Nigel completing the family awayday in 555thas 1154 were across the line within the time limit.

Great job

A first class day of cross country racing and a great job by our athletes. Very well done guys. Thanks are as always due to the organisers, officials and marshals, without whom we wouldn’t get to race at all.