ALEX Adams delivered a commanding race to win his first ever Midlands Cross Country Championships title at the U13 level, report by David Parkin.
Stratford Athletic Club fielded strong teams across the age groups with a number of eye-catching performances.
The course at Newbold Comyn Park was largely across the now closed golf course.
Good grass conditions underfoot and gentle gradients meant athletes could get into a good running rhythm and as a result, there were some great races.
Adams (1st, 11:44) clearly meant business in the U13 boys’ 3km race as he had jettisoned his usual long sleeve shirt to run in just a club vest.
He established an early lead and was well clear of the field by the halfway mark.
Maintaining his steady rhythm round the second half of the course, he was never in danger of being caught.
Unbeaten this season, he will now be turning his attention to the National Championships in Leeds next month.
Oscar Fines-Allin (56th, 13:37) was next home for Stratford and should be pleased with a strong race.
He was followed by James Day (82nd, 14:19) and Oliver Hemming (99th, 297), who held off some determined challengers in the finish straight to maintain his position.
The team finished 11th overall.
Stratford, as ever, fielded a strong team in the U13 girls’ race.
A 3km course meant some of the younger members of the team were racing nearly twice as far as their regular league fixtures, but everyone applied themselves well and battled through to the finishing line.
First home for Stratford was Maddie Linfoot (25th, 14:06), who is having a strong season in the league.
From a mid-30s position at the halfway mark, Linfoot clawed back a number of places to finish strongly. Caitlin Boyle (49th, 14:42) and Olivia Robinson (55th, 14:51) kept each other in sight throughout the race, with Boyle just managing to keep ahead at the finish.
Niamh Hillard (67th, 15:15) made up the last of the scoring places, giving the team a very solid 8th position overall.
Lucy Thomas (93rd, 16:00), Martha Peters (107th, 16:34), Ruby Edwards (111th, 17:17), Tilly Campbell (116th, 17:46) and Ella Peeke (119th, 18:17) completed the team, with all running good races and many picking up places in the finishing straight.
The U15 girls’ race over 4km was accompanied by a light shower, enough to make conditions a bit more slippery.
Stratford’s two representatives in the race, Gigi Thomas (43rd, 18:36) and Ellie Deaner (78th, 20:39), are normally quite closely matched, but Thomas managed to out-run Deaner on the day.
In the U15 boys’ race, James Mucklow (23rd, 15:40) found the course suited his powerful running style and he should be delighted with an excellent result. Cameron Thomas (55th, 16:43) and Cameron Black (68th, 17:38) were next home for Stratford.
Harry Gravelsons (78th, 19:09) completed the team, giving them ninth position overall. For the spectators, the 5km U17 women’s race proved the spectacle of the day.
A tight group of seven runners broke off from the start, including Stratford’s Georgie Campbell, and kept together until deep into the second half of the race.
Eventually, the pace told and the front group spread out, with Campbell (6th, 21:15) not quite able to hold on to the group at the end.
Abbie Wootton (34th, 24:24) and Daisy Musk (40th, 25:09) ran closely together for the first two kilometres, with Wootton pulling ahead in the second half.
The team finished an excellent fourth overall.
The U17 men ran over a two-lap 6km course and Stratford’s sole representative, Owain Jones (37th, 24:26), ran well throughout, looking particularly strong on his second lap.