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UK Challenge Titles Awarded

Gemma Steel - Cross Challenge

Gemma Steel - Cross Challenge

The McCain UK Cross Challenge Series came to an exciting finale at Cofton Park, Birmingham on Saturday 10 March.

With £13,000 of prizes on offer, the McCain UK Cross Challenge guaranteed some fantastic racing opportunities as most athletes – with the exception of those competing in the forthcoming Schools’ Championships – concluded their cross country season and looked ahead to the outdoor season.

The Series featured five key fixtures in Bristol – a new addition to the 2011/12 programme – Liverpool (incorporating the 2011 European Cross Country Trials), Cardiff, Antrim and Birmingham, giving the UK’s up-and-coming cross country runners the opportunity to match themselves against established cross country stars and score points towards the McCain Power of 10 UK Cross Challenge leader board in high quality domestic head-to-head competition.

Opening the cross country season in November,  the first McCain Cross Challenge Series fixture was in Bristol and saw Gemma Steel (coach: John Nuttall) and Frank Tickner open their 2011/12 McCain UK Cross Challenge Series accounts with victories in the senior events.

Both managed to hold their positions at the top of the Challenge leader board, Steel – with a dominant victory in the concluding event in Birmingham – taking the senior women’s title with 258 points and Tickner topping the senior men’s table with 263 points overall, both winning the £2,000 prize fund.

After losing out to Louise Small (Mick Woods) last year by seven points, Annabel Gummow (Chris Wooldridge) had two solid wins in Bristol and Cardiff, and was runner up to European Cross Country champion Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) in Liverpool and Birmingham, earning 136 points and taking the overall McCain UK Cross Challenge junior title.

In the men’s under-20 standings, Kieran Clements (Steve Benson) was in the lead after the first two fixtures, but Harvey Dixon (Mick Woods) moved into pole position following his performances in Cardiff and Antrim, and his fourth place finish at the weekend won him the overall title and the £600 prize fund.

Saturday’s Cofton Park fixture   wasn’t just about consolidating positions for the leaders however, as it also saw an exciting battle unfold in a three three-way tie for the women’s under-17 McCain Cross Challenge Series title as Becky Straw (Bud Baldaro), Jennifer Nesbitt and Rachael Dunn (Enid Johnstone) went into the race as joint leaders.

Nesbitt’s fourth place finish on the day – the best placed of the trio – resulted in an overall 2011/12 McCain UK Cross Challenge win with 127 points and £300. She was closely followed by Becky Straw with 125 points.

Kyran Hale was the clear winner of the men’s U17 McCain UK Cross Challenge title, leading by 11 points before the Final, and finishing on 118 points.

Siannah Rayment (Beverley Kitching) became the U15 Girls McCain Cross Challenge winner with 124 points, while Paulos Asgodom – his highlight victory in Bristol in round one – took the under-15 boy’s overall win with 130 points.

Elizabeth Greenwood (Richard Taylor, 133 points) and Hugo Milner (132 points) won the under-13 girls’ and boys’ titles respectively.

Congratulations to the McCain UK Cross Challenge winners and all that took part- we look forward welcoming you back next season!