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National champions take on challenging Junior Performance Cross Series event in Cookham

Credit @Hamudphotos

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Three reigning national cross-country champions were among those to tackle the challenging private fruit fields course owned by Copas Farms for the second fixture of the Junior Performance Cross Series (JPXS) on Saturday.

Athletes from as far afield as Carmarthen in Wales travelled to Cookham to take part, just days after national lockdown restrictions had been eased.

Event organiser and founder, Peta Bee, said: “We had the start fields lined up but couldn’t confirm whether we would hold the event until the Government gave the go-ahead for sports events to take place.

“Then it was all systems go, although our marshals had no chance to see the course before the morning of the competition.”

The races were stacked with quality competitors, including Chalotte ‘Lottie’ Dewar of Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC, the reigning South of England champion, who led from the gun to win by 21 seconds in the women’s u17s race. Jemima Ridley, of Cookham Running Club, wasn’t far adrift in second place.

There was a much closer battle in the men’s u17s race where William D’Arcy and Welsh Cross-Country champion Frank Morgan of Camarthen Harriers were neck and neck for much of the 5,200m course. They took it in turns to lead through the cherry orchards and strawberry fields, but it was Radley’s D’Arcy who pulled away to take victory with 600m to go.

Another Welsh champion, Iwan Thomas, also of Camarthen, also had to settle for second with Tom Redmond of Chiltern Harriers in dominant form to win the u15s boy’s race.

Alden Collier, last year’s England National u13s boys champion finished fifth.

In the u13s age group, Luke Baughan-Withington, a county level swimmer from Barnet and District AC closed in on victory at the last, edging out Chiltern’s Daniel Munn.

Izzy Martin of Chilterns Harriers won the girls’ race and Bethan Hardman of Cardiff Archers produced a strong-finish to see off in-form Rachel Clutterbuck of WSEH AC in the u15s girls’ event.

Rachel’s sister Katie came second to teammate Amy Young in the u20s women’s race, while Ross Van Heerde of Windsor never looked in trouble as he claimed a comfortable win in the men’s u20s race.

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