Runners battle through challenging conditions

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West Suffolk Athletics Club contested this year’s English National Cross Country Championships in challenging conditions.

Just a week after success at the South of England Cross Country Championships, the programme in Herrington Park, Sunderland, started with an excellent 29th place by Justine Anthony in the under-20 women’s race.

The under-13 girls had mixed fortunes. Lauren Murphy lost both shoes to the muddy conditions, but continued to a courageous barefooted 24th place.

She was followed closely by Megan Newton in a superb 29th and Olivia Allum, first year in this age group, an encouraging 89th place from 264 finishers.

Mikayela Sealby had to retire midway through the race.

Seb Anthony was in a strong 10th place in the under-17 men’s race when his shoe was pulled off by another runner and he was forced to retire.

The snow was still falling as the under-15 girls set off. Sophie Tooley finished disappointed, but still managed a respectable eighth.

Repeating her strong run last week at Parliament Hill, Holly Davies finished 61st.

Charlotte Murphy was another victim of the conditions when a fall caused her to pull out when in a top 20 position.

Arguably the best performance of the day came in the under-13 boys’ race, where Niall Ackroyd finished an excellent 12th in a field of 205, despite limited training.

By the time the senior women set off, the course had an energy sapping surface.

Christine Anthony was the sole WSAC entrant, improving on her previous year’s performance by finishing 172nd from 427 finishers.

WSAC athletes will represent Suffolk and Cambridgeshire in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships in Birmingham, on March 9, and the English Schools Championships, in Derbyshire, on March 16.

n The day after his excellent performance at the South of England Cross Country Championships, Mac Delo took on the latest round of the Suffolk Winter League cross country, held at Bungay.

Delo was in unbeatable form with a comfortable win covering the near six-mile course in 32.06, almost a minute clear of the second-place finisher.

Meanwhile, Maureen McCarthy made her debut indoors at the BMAF South of England Championships. Racing in the 1,500m, clocking a new pb of 5.20.68 to finish third overall and first V50.