Getting used to the long haul up to Liverpool on a Friday night, settling in to the Crowne Plaza (John Lennon Airport), having a nice meal, a couple of beers, early night and getting up, raring to go on Saturday for the UKA Challenge. So this year, a little of the same old same old, except for the horrendous journey, 4.5 hours extended to 6.5 hours due to multiple accidents, still got there for 8:30pm, had the meal, beer and headed to bed. Saturday morning saw our annual trip to McDonalds (New Mersey Retail Park) for a breakfast of kings. Though for the first time in 4 years of doing this, we couldn’t actually see McDonalds from the hotel, a freezing fog had descended overnight leaving paths and roads covered in very slippery ice, and visibility at roughly 50 meters (if that).
After a short drive to Sefton park, we were soon set up and ready to watch a full day of racing, with Liverpool UKA also doubling as the European Trials for Under 20, Under 23 and Senior races it promised to be a good day. As it went it wasn’t until those latter races that we could actually see much of the action, the fog hung around until about 1pm when it finally started to lift (though as we found out on the way home, it wasn’t lifting everywhere).
Liverpool never carries a heavy AFD presence in the younger races, though there was a smattering here and there, with Ryan Martin and Patrick Brown running in the U13 Boys, Robbie representing the club in the U17 men, Jack Boswell and Jake Cvetkovic both finishing in the top 30 in the U20 mens race, the senior men was well and truly represented though, including top 25 finishes from Andy Vernon (3rd), Johnny Hay, Ellis Cross and Josh Grace, with 632 runners it was a busy course. AFD female representation by Kat Brown in the U17W, Niamh Brown in the U20’s and a flood of athletes in the Senior women, including Emily Hosker-Thornhill, Louise Small, Lauren Hall, Georgie Bruinvells, Philipa Bowden and Amy Griffiths all finishing in the top 50.
Robbie had a strong race in the U17m, showing further improvement with a hope of a complete return to fitness now being in the near future. Finishing well and crossing the line in 17th place with a time of 17:48 for the 5.5km course.