Middlesex XC Championships Race Report

21st of January 2023   

Middlesex Centenary Cross-County Championships

Beautiful sunshine helped thaw the frozen ground enough to allow the Centenary Cross Country Championships take place on the iconic Hampstead Heath course.

Senior Men head up the Hill at the start of their race’ Photo: Lenny Martin

The U11s started the action off with two laps of the Parliament Hill field. The Boys race was highly competitive but by the time the leaders headed towards the finish Alessandro Pecce (Thomas’s Battersea) was just ahead of Ben Kasper (SBH) who found a last burst of pace to take the race on the line. Dennys Pascal (SBH) was third helping SBH to the team title. The U11 Girls race saw three runners battle it out with 4s between them Marni Keane George (TVH) in 1st with Violet Muralidhar (ESM) 2nd and Capree Cooper (Barnet) 3rd. The team prize went to Shaftesbury who packed well having the 7th, 8th and 9th placed runners.

The U13’s were the first to venture out over the icy course with again 3 runners easing ahead of the rest of the field by the time they returned towards the finish, Harry Harding (St Mary’s), who finished 9th in the London Youth Games, outsprinting the others to 1st place. Ameirin Lessard (VP&TH) who was 2nd at the London Youth Games was only 2 seconds behind and another 2s was Arjuna Pflug (Highgate) who had been 5th last year took the bronze. VP&TH took the team title. The U13 Girls race was never in doubt with Barnet’s Jorjia March who has won three Met League races this season finishing 20s ahead of Elina Ponkrateva (St Marys) with Sofia Mossi (Blackheath & Bromley) in 3rd. London Heathside retained the Team title with their three scoring runners all in the top 10.

The U15s had two medium laps to complete with county 1500m champion Arthur Phillips (SBH) comfortably pulling away from Louis Moore (TVH) to win with Koppany Szentes (LH) holding off a pack of runners at the finish to take 3rd. SBH took the team title. In the U15 Girls VP&TH dominated the race with Ruby James first over the line followed by team mates Lyra McDonald and Monika Panoutsou. They will be hoping for a repeat next week at the Southerns.

The U17 and U20 races were run together with Lauren Russell (Highgate) who has been in fine form in the Met League the first home 40s ahead of 2nd place Lucy Barlow (St Marys) and Sofia Latham (Harrow) who won the U20 Women’s race with Adela Svihalkova (TVH) who was 10th in the National XC Championships last year taking the U17W bronze. Zakia Mossi (B&B) and Lucy Henson completed the individual medalists. St Mary’s took the U17W title with ESM taking the U20W. Harrow took both of the men’s titles with Chris Hudson who was 5th last year taking the U20 win ahead of Thomas Archer (LH) and Joshua Fisher (SBH) who with the next two finishers also from Shaftesbury secured the team title. Michael Cattini (Harrow) was the first U17M 35s ahead of 2nd placed Cameron McConnon (TVH) and 45s from 3rd placed Charlie Brook (St Marys).

The Senior Women’s race was dominated by TVH with Alex Mundell, in her first individual XC of the season, winning 40s ahead of team mate Kosana Weir with Eilidh O’Grady (Harrow) 3rd. With Stephanie Ainley 5th and Suaila Sa 21st they secured the women’s title ahead of Met League leaders London Heathside.

While the Men’s team race ebbed and flowed running on home ground Jacob Allen (Highgate) build up a commanding lead ahead of Seyfu Jamaal (LH) with Michael Cameron (TVH) a minute further back. London Heathside had 3 runners in the first 6 but then TVH had the 7th, 8th, 9th and 12th to bring them back in contention to retain their title, Then Heathsiders came in 14th and 15th to swing it back in their favour but with the 19th and 20th finishers they had 60 pts TVH’s 6th runner could only finish 22nd giving London Heathside the Senior Men’s title for the first time.

Alastair Aitken adds:- “Jacob Allen,  a PE school, and recent National 10k road Champion was a good winner of the Centenary Middlesex senior cross-country Championships, at Parliament Hill Fields Alastair Aitken reports. In the event, last held over Hampstead Heath in 1974, there were some icy and muddy patches but the sun had come out for the event, which made the running conditions very tolerable. It was obvious at half way that with 50 metre gaps between each of the first three, that Allan. was sufficiently clear to be untroubled for the rest of the race with Seyfu Jamaal next and then Michael Cameron. Allen remarked “ I hope to run the National and the Inter-Counties and, I am on 80 miles a week at the moment”

 In the Women’s race Alex Mundell, 27, moved clear of a group on the 2nd lap, going up a hill. She declared afterwards “I did not expect to win, as I use cross-country as a build up for the track under my coach Dave Wilkinson “ TVH’s team won with a low 26 points.

An impressive run was by Lauren Russell, in the U17 race, following her London and Met League  victories. Her mother Sabina Russell who came 17th in the Women’s race is to compete for England as a W55 in the  Vets road race at Chester on the 12th of March.

 The course over Hampstead Heath for the Middlesex was well marked and organized by The City of London Corporation and Highgate Harriers.

Regards Alastair

Life Time member awards were also presented after the races to Barrie Saunders, Martin Howard and Alastair Aitkin for all their long service to the county and Athletics.

The County would like to thank all the officials and volunteer who gave up their time as well as the City of London and especially Paul Mansell and his team of Heath Wardens for all their help. Thank toy to Martin Howard and Highgate Harriers for their efforts organising the race.