Guernsey Press

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.

Alex Rowe stamping his authority on yesterday’s Boxing Day Cross-Country over the Full Course at L’Ancresse. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32834192)

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).

Nix Petit continued her dominant form with victory in the women’s race. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32834202)

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.