Dewi Griffiths (coach: Kevin Evans) put up a brave fight for his British Athletics Cross Challenge title at the UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships in Birmingham.
Griffiths, the 2014 champion, needed to win Saturday’s series finale to defend his crown and got stuck into a fierce battle with Wales’ Charlie Hulson (Paul Roden), the English National champion, and the Scottish champion Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton).
Charlie Hulson (4478) and Dewi Griffiths (4660) pictured in the Men's race
Both Griffiths and Hulson led the field at different stages of the race and hopes of a Welsh winner were high but Butchart showed his class over the final lap to pull away from the field to take the win and be crowned 2015 Cross Challenge winner.
Griffiths was second and third in the overall series standings and Hulson grabbed the final podium place.
In the under 20 women’s race Bronwen Owen (Andrew Henderson) secured his place at the World Cross Country Championships with a third place finish that also secured her second place overall in the Cross Challenge series standings.
Swansea Harriers’ Olivia Gwynn was ninth in Birmingham giving her fourth place in the series.
There was big disappointment in the under-20 men’s race as both Jac Hopkins (Kevin Tobin) and Iolo Hughes (Andrew Walling) had to withdraw before the finish through injury, ending their hopes of taking the Cross Challenge title and missing out on automatic selection for the World Cross.
Brecon’s Heidi Davies secured the Cross Challenge Series title in the under 17 women’s category with a fifth place finish, just ahead of Wales’ Cari Hughes (Walling) in sixth.
Heidi’s younger brother Luke finished joint-top of the Cross Challenge Series standings with another Welsh athlete, Menai Track & Field’s Oliver Barbaresi (Walling), after their fourth and first place finishes in Birmingham.
The British Athletics Cross Challenge is back for 2014 - 2015, taking in four key cross country fixtures across the UK, including a new venue, throughout the autumn and winter season.
The series offers four high quality and competitive cross country opportunities for athletes which culminates with the series finale in Birmingham in March 2015.
The Cross Challenge also gives up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to match themselves against established cross country stars with competitive fields catering for all age-groups; senior, under-20, under-17, under-15 and under-13.
The Cross Challenge events will be held at Liverpool, Cardiff, and Milton Keynes for the first time, with the series finale to be hosted once again at Cofton Park, Birmingham.
With cash prizes on offer, the British Athletics Cross Challenge guarantees fantastic racing opportunities as our athletes prepare for events such as European Cross Country Championships in Bulgaria in December 2014 and the World Cross Country Championships in China in March 2015. Further information on international selection can be found here.
British Athletics believes that the series is a fundamental pathway for endurance competitors and looks forward to once again working with the various organisers who deliver quality events each time.