The cohort from Central Athletic Club travelling home from Liverpool on Saturday must have had smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. The British Athletics Cross Challenge in Liverpool on Saturday 27 November was the latest race to test a number of Central’s athletes. With Scottish vests and European Cross Country places up for grabs and the potential for Central’s Senior Men to make it to the European Champion Clubs Cup cross country there was much at stake.
The British Cross Challenge events are a huge challenge given the depth of competition but the Central athletes showed they can rub shoulders with the best. Amongst the Senior Men it was Andrew Butchart and Jamie Crowe who caught the eye of the selectors finishing second and third over the 9.8 kilometre course, covering the distance in 28 minutes 16 seconds and 28:27 respectively. Olympian Andrew has competed for GB a number of times before but this will be a first GB selection for Jamie underlining the progress he has made as they both head to Dublin for the European Cross Country Championships on 12 December.
These races are relentless and as the athletes poured through the finishing line there were further superb performances from the Senior Men’s contingent through Tom Graham-Marr (52nd; 30:10), Luca Fanottoli (81st; 30:54), Calum Phillip (101st; 31:29), Hamish Hickey (106th; 31:39), Dale Colley (145th; 32:49) and Andrew Irvine (222nd; 35:31). Their efforts will see Central head to the European Champions Clubs Cup cross country near Lisbon on 6 February 2022 having held off strong challenges from their Welsh and English counterparts, Cardiff and Shaftesbury Barnet.
Not to be outdone by her male clubmates Morag Millar had another outstanding run to finish twenty third in the Senior Women’s 8.1 kilometre race in a time of 28:02.
The Under-20 Men’s race featured another committed effort by Central’s Alastair Marshall who covered his 6.7 kilometre challenge in 20:34 to finish in a highly satisfactory eighth overall.
Earlier in the day Under-17 Man Connor Bell again underlined his potential as he gave notice to his rivals with a superb eighth place finish over a 5.5 kilometre course with an excellent 17:24 clocking.