Maiden title for Petit as Dawes hits a dozen
THE freshly-crowned men’s and women’s FNB Cross-Country League champions have two very different stories to tell.
Steve Dawes sealed a terrific 12th series title at Saturday’s Home Farm finale, while for Nix Petit it was her first overall women’s crown – despite her widespread success on the domestic cross-country scene.
‘Fifth time’s the charm, I think the saying goes?’ the annual bridesmaid of the series said.
The men’s title had seemed to be headed Lee Merrien’s way, but after he was sidelined for the fourth and final round of the series due to a calf issue, race winner Dawes was elevated to champion again.
So how did he feel to win a 12th series title?
‘It makes me feel really, really old,’ was his immediate response.
‘Yeah, it’s good. A bit gutted Mez is injured, because he would have won.’
James Priest provided a solid challenge in the Division One race, which unfolded over six laps and as many miles of a course blending open field with technical woodland, plus plenty of mud.
Dawes and Priest, alongside Ethan Woodhead and youngster Jack Rees, had formed an early lead quartet.
The top two soon broke away and Priest even led Dawes through the second circuit, shortly after which the eventual winner levelled and made his own break – which stuck.
The London Marathon hopeful won in 37min. 58sec.
Priest followed in 39-15 with Woodhead third a shade under 40min. – their positions matched the overall series standings.
‘I’m in the middle of marathon training and I’ve got an ongoing glute issue that I’ve been to see a physio about,’ Dawes said.
‘It doesn’t feel good on twists and turns. And after a lap, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.
‘So I sat in for a lap and then it kind of warmed up and settled down.
‘I basically just made one little surge for 50m just to see what Priesty would do. He let the gap go and I thought “maybe I can have him”.’
Gian-Luca Robilliard had an outstanding run to relegate U17 Rees to fifth on the day, while Pete Amy placed sixth in his last race before major cancer surgery.
The improved form of Ulrike Maisch made for a compelling women’s race over four laps.
Maisch worked her way up to Petit before, deep into lap three, edging ahead by a few seconds.
They were level going into the final stretch before Petit sprinted in to finish 3sec. clear.
‘Today’s race was so awesome,’ Petit said.
‘We had been looking forward to racing each other for a while and it didn’t disappoint – I went out fast and Ulrike caught me on the third lap.
‘I had to dig in and trust my fitness and strength for a big finish to get the win by a narrow margin.
‘I was proud to finally get the overall first female prize, as I have always been the bridesmaid, coming in second or third before now. I’m hoping my consistent winter pays off come the track season.’
Similarly, Lindsay Sword outsprinted Amy Critchlow after a close duel between two triathletes.
However, it was Critchlow who took third woman for the series.
More reaction and results to follow.