The National Cross Country races took place on 25th February over the rolling hills and fields of Parliament Hill with good views of the central London sky-line. The weather was warm and sunny with most spectators over-dressed in their Wellington boots! There were stretches of mud though, although there the going was mostly good and nothing to compare to the deep liquid mud of last years` event at Alton Towers.
However, even the prospect of a mini-break in London, with the added bonus of running the iconic Parliament Hill course, could not tempt more than a handful of local athletes south.
This year marked the 125th staging of the senior men’s race over 12k. Top Preston Harrier was Michael O’Donnell in 492nd in 45.29. Dave Parkington recorded 46.13, just ahead of Tony Livesey (46.17.) Great club stalwarts Kevin Hesketh (48.09) and Phil Walsh (50.46) had good runs. 1,689 runners completed the course and the race was won by Keith Gerrard of Newham & Essex Beagles, Manx born and a former Lancs. Junior mens champion, in 35m 56s, 11s ahead of current Northern Champion, Steve Vernon.
The senior women ran 8k and Claire McDermott was the first Preston Harrier home in 237th in a time of 35.55. Marian Hesketh, a national devotee, finished 300th in 37.08 and Judith Deakin completed the line up finishing 585th in 47.03. The winner was international Gemma Steel (Charnwood AC) in 27.06, just ahead of 2nd placed Steph Twell (Aldershot) and Sonia Samuels (Sale Harriers) who were given the same time of 27.09.
Nichola Jackson competed in the junior (U20) womens race and was 40th in 24.51 in a field of 107. Upcoming long distance star Emelia Gorecka (Aldershot) won by almost 20 seconds in 21.02 for the 6k distance. Liam McDermott ran the U13 boys race over 3k and finished in 14.13.
In the U13 boys Liam McDermott was 320th in 14.13 in a field of 373.