Although numbers were down today due to coughs and colds, 456 athletes made the start line in the Essex Senior/U17/U20 XC championships.

This year's venue was at Great Notley Country Park, hosted for the first time by Witham Running Club. Frosty at first and not too cold, a watery sun broke through which quickly turned the frost into gloopy mud, perfect conditions for XC running.

The U17 men and women and the U20 women were the first to race at 10.30 The 5k course consisted of one short lap with the second lap taking the runners up the 'big hill' where the race really opened up. Not surprisingly, the U17 boys were the first to appear towards the finish line with Orion Harrier's Joseph Owen a clear winner. Joe Geller from Woodford Green was in silver position with Orion Harriers' Lewis Harknett in close pursuit.

The U17 women's race was a close encounter between Havering AC team-mates Jessica Mitchell and Kate O'Neill but Jess managed to find something extra in the tank to pull away to cross the line for gold with Kate closing in for silver. Hayley Instance put in a good solid performance for Thurrock Harriers and was rewarded with a bronze medal.

Khai Malanga, fresh from her medal winning performance at the European XC Champs in December, was a clear winner in the U20 women's race. A great performance from Braintree's Hannah Irwin in second and Khai's Chelmsford team-mate Rachel Broome in third, completed the medal positions and as the rest of the pack finished, the course was being quickly churned up for the next race.

U17 Men
Gold Joseph Owen 17.11
Silver Joe Geller 17.25
Bronze Lewis Harknett 17.28

Team: Gold Orion Harriers
Silver Thurrock Harriers
Bronze Colchester Harriers

U17 Women
Jessica Mitchell 18.46
Kate O'Neill 18.59
Hayley Instance 19.35

Team: Gold Havering AC
Silver Southend AC
Bronze Orion Harriers

U20 Women
Khai Malanga 18.03
Hannah Irwin 18.37
Rachel Broome 20.16

Team: No full teams

With a combined field of 178 athletes, the Senior Women ran with the U20 men over 8k, taking in the hill once on each lap. Now nicely churned up, some runners were finding it hard to stay on their feet. Ben Davis ran a strong race and crossed the line to win gold for Havering AC. Close on his heels, just 7 seconds behind, was Ahmed Abdulle from Woodford Green. Aferwerk Rossom rounded out the medal positions with a great performance for Herts Phoenix.

The Senior Women's race is always hotly contested and today was no different. Closely fought between the top 4 it was Springfield Striders' Liz Davies who took the honours with a clear win. Gemma Kersey finished in silver position with Gemma Holloway just pipping Emma Houchell for bronze.

U20 Men
Ben Davis 26.09
Ahmed Abdulle 26.16
Aferwerk Rossom 26.56

Team: Gold Havering AC
No further full teams

Senior Women
Liz Davies 28.49
Gemma Kersey 29.24
Gemma Holloway 29.34

Team: Gold Basildon AC
Silver Chelmsford AC
Bronze Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC

And so on onto the final event, the Senior Men's race, 3 laps over 12k. Each lap included a run up the back of the hill, steeper than the front and by now, quite muddy. A large field of 209 athletes set off at pace, jostling for position or just trying to stay on their feet as parts of the course were now as slippery as an ice-rink.
Seemingly unaffected, Southend's Adam Hickey made light work of the conditions and finished comfortably in first place. Strong finishes from both Grant Twist of Havering AC and Woodford Green's Tom Beedell secured the final individual medals of the day.

Senior Men
Adam Hickey 40.44
Grant Twist 41.16
Tom Beedell 42.02

Team: Gold Woodford Green
Silver Colchester Harriers
Bronze Southend AC


Results here

Thank you to all the competitors, Essex officials and the marshals from Witham Running Club who did a fantastic job.


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