The Eastern Athletic Association Cross Country Championships returned to Nowton Park for the first time since 2004 at the weekend with plenty of success for St Edmunds Pacers on home turf.
The Bury St Edmunds club stood out from the biggest field in the annual competition for 13 years by taking three individual race wins and four top team awards from the 11 on offer.
On a cold but fine day on Saturday, Odette Robson continued her outstanding year by coming home at the head of 38 female competitors to take her first Eastern cross country overall title in the Senior Women and Vets category. It done in some style, clocking the 6k course in 24 minutes and 13 seconds — 28 seconds ahead of her nearest challenger, Ipswich Jaffa’s Sara Bird. It also saw her capture the Ladies Vets 45 title.
The Pacers had two more entrants finish in the women’s overall top five, with Angie Joiner-Handy (25.28) and Cath Jeffery (26.11) coming home in fourth and fifth.
Those results were enough for St Edmunds Pacers ‘A’ to take the Senior Women and Vets team title, ahead of Ipswich Jaffa ‘A’.
In the 3k Under-13s event, the Pacers had the winner in the boys event for the third straight year with Lewis Sullivan (10.45) taking the finish line ahead of Thetford AC’s James Peck (10.59) in a field of 37. North Norfolk Harriers took the team award, with St Edmunds Pacers ‘A’ coming in second and Thetford AC third.
The third Pacers individual win came in the Under-15 Boys with Ben Bayley completing the 4k course in 14.13 from Colchester & Tendring AC’s Aidan Chaill in 14.20. The St Edmunds Pacers ‘A’ had finishers in spots one, three and 10 which saw them to the team title.
Finishes of third, fifth and seventh also saw the club to the Under-20 Women’s title.
West Suffolk Athletics Club took the team award in the Under-13 Girls with Lila Battell (12.25) narrowly beating Thetford AC’s Abigail Clouston (12.27) to the finish line. West Suffolk’s Lorna Coull (12.31) followed them in third.
The Senior and Vet Men’s race saw a bumper field of 90 runners battling it out over a 12km distance, with Peterborough AC’s Steve Robinson finishing first in 41.11 from Woodford Green’s Angus Holford in 41.33
The Pacers’ Nick Smith (45.09) in 18th place was the top finishing local runner. Ipswich Jaffa took the team title.
The Under-17 Women saw a one-two for Stowmarket Striders’ Maddie and Millie Jordan-Lee, with Maddie finishing the 6km course first in 24.13 from Millie in 24.15, with the Striders, who had half of the eight participants running, taking the team award.
Eastern Athletic Association chairman Ted Butcher presented trophies to the individual winners and medals to the top team participants.