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Cookham landowners provide much-needed lifeline for cross country runners

Two Cookham landowners have provided a much-needed lifeline to local athletes by enabling them to compete in COVID-secure environments on their private fields.

Cross country running has been hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic with most local, regional and national competitions cancelled because of the safety risks associated with staging them in public places.

However, Tom Copas, of Copas Partnership, and James Copas, of Copas Farms, have been working with Cookham Running Club to stage a series of cross-country events, at no cost, on their land.

The Junior Performance Cross Country Series (JPXS) for ages 11-18 has proved a resounding success with the initial event in October the first cross-country event to be staged in the UK this season. The second will take place on Saturday (December 5) and will be the first to be held after the second national lockdown.

Peta Bee, founder of Cookham Running Club and organiser of the JPXS, says the events have been a resounding success.

“We invited athletes of county and national level and have several reigning national champions at each event,” she said.

“Both the Copas Partnership and Copas Farms have been generous in the extreme and bent over backwards to accommodate the athletes. We would not have been able to stage the races without their generosity.”

In line with England Athletics guidelines, athletes have limited access to the course beforehand, adhere to strict social distancing measures and race in small waves.

An Athlete Zone area means competitors are distanced and they must leave the area as soon as they finish their race. A single spectator per athlete is permitted.

Such is the success of the JPXS series that it was featured in Athletics Weekly magazine and on a national athletics podcast. “The feedback has been tremendous,” added Peta.

“We have many high-level young athletes the area who are indebted to Copas Farms and the Copas Partnership for providing a rare opportunity to race this year.”

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