From Nathan Jones:
The final championship event of the year before Christmas, saw the Welsh Athletics Inter-Regional Cross-Country Championships head to a brand-new venue in Mid Wales on Saturday. Staged for the 20th time, it took place at Ysgol Gynradd Trefonnen / Trefonnen Primary School in Llandrindod Wells and returned in 2018 after last year’s cancellation in Brecon due to the wintry conditions.
Heavy rain and blustery showers, added on by a strong wind greeted athletes, coaches, officials and spectators. As races progressed, the ground cut up easily and this made some parts atrocious. This was after days of wet weather leading up to the competition, which included a water jump off the large lap exit.
It offered testing terrain around a looping and undulating route over agricultural. It also acted as trials for team selection for Welsh teams competing at two International fixtures in early 2019 – the Celtic Cross Country and Home Countries International in Belfast.
The four regions from the West, East, South and North all travelled to the location on the outskirts of the town centre as the year slowly draws to a close following another action-packed 12 months of competition & success. Teams of 15 were selected by each region with the Inter-Regional categories starting at under 13 level and moving through the under 15, under 17 and under 20’s at younger ages.
The Senior & Master Men & Women races again attracted a large total, which comes as no surprise looking at John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League attendances so far this winter.
As in previous years, the 12-event programme began with two primary school races for boys and girls, which saw twenty-eight take part either as an individual or as part of a team. This was a great opportunity for those in years 5 and 6 to get involved and get to see what they’ll be up against in years to come once they get to secondary school age.
Almost 600 competitors wore the red, purple, white and green vests as age group distances varied from 1,240m for the primaries up to the senior men’s challenge of 9.940m.
Every individual position counted across all twelve races as presentations were made to the first three individuals and the winning regional teams (5 and 8 to score). All four regions won team medals during some stage of the day.
James Hunt (Cardiff AAC) & Alaw Beynon-Thomas (Swansea Harriers) were victorious in their respective senior men & women’s races by comfortable margins.
Reigning Welsh Cross Country Champion Hunt, representing the South Wales team completed the 9,940m course in a time of 33:54, almost a minute ahead of East Wales pair Abed Teweldebrhan from Newport Harriers and Mark Hopkinson, of Torfaen Runners. After a close first lap, the Cardiff athlete stepped up to another gear and moved away from the rest of the field to ease to victory.
Double Paralympian Steve Morris in fourth, also from the Welsh capital club, and Adam Bull were the second and third scorers for the South Wales team to win the gold team medals, thanks to their eight finishers in thirteen.
Beynon-Thomas, who has been in great form recently with back-to-back first and second in the Gwent League at Pembrey and Tredegar, successfully defended her Inter-Regional title won in 2016 to add another to her collection.
Controlling the pace in the leading pack early on, she strided away to finish over 2 minutes ahead of the rest in 25:43. Her teammate Helen Marshall made it a one-two for the West region in second and as a result, was the MW35 champion.
The South duo of Lucy Marland and Emily Lagamarsiano completed the senior women top three before Wildcard Isobel Parry-Jones crossed in fifth place.
Miranda Grant (North), Gemma Moore (North), Sandra Chipper (East), Nicola Jukes (East), Tasha Sexton (West), Ann Nixon (East), Mary Anthony (West), Julie Scholey (South), Ryan McFlynn (East), Tim Iveson (East), Richard Jackson-Hookins (South), Huw Evans (West), Jeff Wherlock (East), Jez Brown (North), Ifan Lloyd (West), Rob Hunt (South) and Kevin Griffiths (West) were the other individual medallists across all the Vets categories (35+, 45+ & 55+)
Under 20 races in the latter stages of the programme saw wins for Dominic Smith (West) in the closest finish of the day and Naomi Reid (South). Elliott Lawrence (West) and Larry Ryan (South) made up the top three in the men whilst in the women, Laura Wright (South) and Martha Owen (North) were second and third.
Mike Spill & Mia Roberts made it a North Wales double in the under 17’s category. They were followed across the muddy finish line by the West athletes Nathan Jones & Ashleigh Willis, Lloyd Sheppard (East) and Aimee Callow (South) were third.
West Wales dominated the under 15 boys’ category taking all leading three positions and as a result, taking the team title. Adam Beer continued his excellent form on the country with Iori Humphreys and Dafydd Jones following behind him in sub 15 minutes clocking.
The corresponding girls’ age group went to another familiar name in North Wales’ Samia Jones in 12 minutes exactly. Gwenno Goode (South) and Moli Lyons (South) scored two in the first three.
The North and East were under 13 victors in the first two races of the Inter-Regional competition. In the girls, Maddison Griffiths took a seven second victory before Frances Mackie (West) and Iona Roderick (South) followed shortly after. There was an identical distance between boys’ winner Jack Organ (East) and the second and third finishers, which were Callum Morgan (North) and Zach Elvy (West).
Saturday morning’s action got underway with the Primary Girls and Primary Boys which went off as one race featuring twenty-eight athletes. The girls had no complete teams therefore individual positions were at stake. It was Anya Brady (Newport Harriers) taking the gold in the girls’ race with Ella Davis (Wrexham AC) and Chloe Hartley-Green (Swansea Harriers) also making it onto the podium.
Fourteen boys took to the start line where the top two individual medals, plus gold and silver team medals headed back to West Wales. Rowan Dixon (Pembrokeshire Harriers) came out on top over the 1,240m distance. Alexander Coles (Carmarthen Harriers) and Thomas Molloy (Deeside AC) joined him in the leading group. The team medals (with 3 to score) went to the Pembrokeshire Harriers (Dixon, Harries, Barrett), Carmarthen Harriers (Coles, Sloyan, Coles) and Newport Harriers (Garrod, Urkola, Barry) teams.
Hunt’s victory helped the South Wales Region to the overall win scoring 221 points, in which they also secured the Female overall trophy. The Male overall trophy went to the West Wales Region who as a result were runners-up (208pts) followed by East Wales (197pts) and North Wales (176pts).
Fine individual and team performances on Saturday puts athletes in great shape ahead of the start of 2019 with the Welsh Athletics Cross Country Championships at Pembrey Country Park, one of the highlights to come early on in February (Saturday 23rd).
Thanks to all the Welsh Athletics officials and volunteers who supported the day as well as all the team managers, spectators, athletes and Trefonnen Primary School for hosting, which made for a great day of cross country running despite the testing elements.
Full Results / Canlyniadau Llawn