Once again Cofton Park in Birmingham hosts the British Inter-County Championships, with runners from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland adding to the usual crowd. That said, the Scottish contingency was substantially reduced due to an event clash, someone managed to organise the Scottish Schools XC on the same day as the UK Inter-Counties, and on the topic of “event clashes” Sky TV’s presence was once again obvious in it’s non-existence due to their coverage of the World Indoor Athletics, apparently they can only film one athletic event at a time.
Unusually Cofton Park displayed a serious lack of mud, with just one short 5 meter sticky section at the bottom of the new starting straight, confusion rained down in heaps on arriving runners as they discovered that programs did not contain maps, and that the map posted on-line was incorrect, and that the distance of the course was substantially further than advertised and … wait I don’t think there was anything else, but still.
Anyway, down to business. The U15’s, like all the other races got under way from a very compressed start location, meaning that a distinct advantage was given to those runners in the front line, elbows flew, shoulders barged and more than one runner found himself sprawled on the floor, a fast paced almost full on sprint down the hill to “the sinking sand bend” or if you like the only bit of mud on the course, then in to a very long uphill climb, before zig zaging down, and back up that same hill. The start saw a lot of top notch runners further back than expected, but the hill sorted the order to some extent, Robbie hit the mud way back in the pecking order with over 100 runners in front of him, bottom of the first “Zag” and he’d worked his way up to 42nd, bottom of the second “Zag” and back on to the original course and he was in the 20’s.
Ultimately the good footing, steady hills and long flats led to a very fast race, the original course was marked at 4.5k, the additions to the course must have taken the distance well over 5k and the winning time of 16’58” by Zac Mahamed from Hampshire showed the pace.
Some good times were clocked up and the order of finishing was somewhat juggled about compared to the English Nationals two weeks ago, the top 5 runners in Birmingham being Zac Mahamed (Hampshire), Dan Slater (Merseyside), James Puxty (Kent), Toby Osman (Yorkshire) and Oliver Barbaresi (North Wales). George Groom who won the Nationals only managed 8th place in Birmingham and Harry Boyd who came 3rd at Parliament Hill was well outside the top 10 this time round. So there was some elements of great satisfaction and great disappointment on the day, Robbie had a great run managing 22nd place and coming in as the 3rd runner for Hampshire, showing signs that he is definitely on his way back to fitness.
Disappointment for North Wales who managed to have the best team results for the first two runners (Oliver Barbaresi and Matt Willis scoring 12 points between them) but only managed 10th in the overall team placings. North East Counties took first place with 48 points, followed by Yorkshire with 91 and Hampshire with 91, Hampshire getting bronze based on the position of their 4th runner.
Congratulations to the Hampshire team on their Bronze medal, shame we couldn’t have made up one more place and grabbed that silver, but still an outstanding performance from all the boys, with 3 of those 4 scoring runners being from the bottom year, Hampshire are looking good for U15 boys in 2016.