A proper cross-country' This is what many runners were overheard saying after Saturday's race. With mud, hills and drizzle which eventually turned to rain, Hilly Fields was the ideal setting for the Essex U13/U15/Vets Champs, hosted this year by Colchester Harriers.
Just shy of a record entry, there was a fantastic 75% attendance which made for some great racing over all age groups. This year we introduced chip-timing and weather proof numbers which were put to the test in the damp conditions.
Mike the Whistle started proceedings at 10am with the U13 boys race. The tightest of finishes saw Will Steadman pip Henry Dover to win gold, closely followed by Luca McGrath.
The U13 girls race was equally well fought but a good finish secured gold for Abigail Reid, followed in by Kiera Atkinson and Kezia Beeton.
By now the drizzle had turned to rain so the course was getting nicely churned up for the U15 boys. Not deterred, Alex Ford made light work of the conditions by winning gold, with Matthew Brayshaw and Charlie Howell battling it out for silver and bronze.
There was a Basildon 1-2 in the U15 girls race with Megan Harris picking up gold and Abigail Ives silver. A fine finish from Natalie Sewell ensured her the bronze medal.
With the junior races completed and medals presented, 242 runners toed the start line in race 5 with the FV35+ and MV50+ running together. A fast start was needed to ensure a clear run as they exited the field onto a narrow track.
Although it was a hard fought contest, Liz Davies, yet again, finish ahead of the whole field to win by a clear 7 seconds and in doing so, collected a well deserved gold medal. Rebecca Luxton and Sally Judd had their own battle with Rebecca picking up silver and Sally bronze.
Just behind Liz, Allen Smalls, who thrives on mud and trails, crossed the line to win the men's race. Colin Read chased Allen down for silver with Craig Dyce hot on his heels for bronze.
Race 6 was the final event of the day where the V40 men were eager to get going. The rain had eased, conditions were ideal so the scene was set for a fast and furious race.
Crispian Bloomfield was the first runner to come flying down the final hill and head towards the finish line to win a clear gold. Silver and bronze was a closely fought battle between team mates Christian Holmes and Lee Taylor but Christian managed to hold on for 2nd place.
A great day of racing from all the athletes came to a close and it was into the hall to get warm and dry and for the medal presentations.
Huge thanks to Colchester Harriers and especially to John Sanders and John Hyland, for a well organised event and to the ladies in the kitchen who kept the runners and spectators going with tea, coffee and home-made cakes. As always, thank you to our out-going Essex President Diane Wooller and her fantastic team of officials who are always there come rain or shine
The results can be found here.