Rowe takes control from the start of Boxing Day Cross-Country
THE ‘mainlanders’ continued their run of victories in the Boxing Day Cross-Country yesterday.
Bath University graduate Alex Rowe claimed the win at an uncharacteristically still L’Ancresse Common as two other UK-based athletes with local backgrounds, Chris Bain and Sam Lesley, completed the podium to shut out the domestic regulars.
Rowe’s victory marked a sixth straight year that a university student or recent graduate based in the UK has triumphed on Boxing Day.
The domestic challenge this cross-country season has been headed by Lee Merrien or Steve Dawes, but with the first on holiday and second opting out, Edinburgh University student Bain and the Glasgow-based Lesley provided a Scottish touch to Rowe’s opposition.
None of these fine runners faced any challenge whatsoever from race-day conditions, which were very calm and mild.
Mud and soft ground from the rainy build-up was the only real detractor to performances around the 4.75-miler based at Rocque Balan.
Rowe used this fast going to set a swift pace from the start, gradually pulling away from his challengers and finishing in a very respectable – but not personal best – time of 25min. 41sec.
Middle-distance specialist Bain followed 20sec. later and Lesley claimed third in 26-37, both representing considerable PBs.
‘I knew Chris and Sam were in good shape and I knew I didn’t want to take them round for a run behind me,’ Rowe said.
‘I thought I’d get out hard from the start and run an honest race. Good conditions, so I did want to run fast as well.
‘I’m happy with that. It’s relatively quick, not my fastest, but I’m happy with that for where I am at the moment and it’s a good day for cross country – the last week, I thought it was going to be awful.’
Now training with Thames Valley Harriers, Rowe looks to be an important component of Guernsey’s campaign at the upcoming Hampshire Cross-Country Championships. He is also sighting a quick run at Battersea Park’s ‘Under The Lights’ 5k in February, then a return to middle-distance racing over the summer.
Behind the visiting trio, U20 middle-distance prospect Gian-Luca Robilliard used his improved stamina to take the honour of top locally-based runner, finishing right on the 27min. mark. That meant edging out top veteran Peter Amy (27-04) and U17 Jack Rees (27-11).
In the women’s race, Nix Petit continued her unbeaten domestic cross-country season by triumphing in 29-48.
In doing so, she matched exactly her PB from Easter.
Racing without any of her established rivals – who are injured or taking time out – she made light work of the festive field.
Rosie Williams, making her first cross-country appearance of the winter season, came closest with her 32-36 clocking.
Caroline Barby took third woman in 34-45 after holding off first-year Exeter University student Kate Bain, who ran a big PB to duck under 35min.
The welcoming conditions attracted a large entry, with around 140 runners split between the full course and junior event.
In the junior ‘half course’, Max Robin was a runaway winner of the boys’ race and Grace King made a similar impression in the girls’ competition.