Lewis Sullivan outshines national field as young St Edmund Pacer crowned Under-15 National Cross Country champion
It was the one big title that had previously eluded him but Lewis Sullivan proved his star quality in highly testing conditions in Nottinghamshire to be crowned a National Cross Country champion.
On a quagmire of a course at Wollaton Park in Nottingham on Saturday, the St Edmund Pacers star led in a Suffolk one-two – with Thetford AC’s Ben Peck coming second – in the Under-15 age category to land his big 2020 season target.
“This one was quite special for me because I have never won the nationals before,” said the Moreton Hall resident, who last season had become the first ever Suffolk runner to claim victory in the English Schools Cross Country Championships.
“The course was ridiculously muddy, to the point where it seemed to solidify around your legs so you could hardly move. It was definitely one of the toughest, 100 per cent.”
The Sybil Andrews Academy Year 10 pupil was part of a small group who broke away after 400 metres and by the second and final lap of the 4.8km course, he had taken the lead.
He managed to shake off Chris Perkins (Birtley AC) but Mildenhall College Academy student Peck, also Sullivan’s training partner, pushed him right to the finish, coming within three seconds of him. The winning time was 16 minutes and 30 seconds.
“There was quite a few people in that race I was concerned about, so crossing that line in first, there was no better feeling,” said Sullivan, who also won at the Home Countries International in Dublin, Ireland, on his England debut last year.
“It was definitely more special having Ben come in behind me. The fact we are both in a small county like Suffolk and both did so well was amazing.”
The new national champion, trained by the Pacers’ Martyn Brophy, has a busy month ahead of him with the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships in Loughborough soon followed by the English Schools in Liverpool.
Running in a new higher age group at U17s, Sullivan is targeting a top eight finish in the latter to secure an England vest once again.
Nearly 30 Pacers, across a range of age groups, completed the tough course at Wollaton Park, with Brophy saying they “should feel very proud of their efforts”.
More by this authorRussell Claydon