Devon athlete enjoys 52-second clear victory at Wollaton Park in Nottingham as Zoe Gilbody, Molly Carvell, George Couttie, Sam Plummer and Joe Scanes also take gold on Saturday
A major cross-country event returned to the grounds of Wollaton Hall for the first time since the all-age group English National of 2020.
Increasing costs of hiring the estate had been given as the reason, but it was also noted back then that the grounds were left seriously rutted by the numerous parked cars. However it was the expense of hiring the venue that was given as the real reason for it falling off of the calendar.
This was backed up by Wendy Smith, the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, who noted that the unitary authority of central Nottingham is one of the poorest in the country with an above average number of low council tax band houses, which mean the council has to look to all means that it can to try and balance its books.
For the second time in eight days the younger runners were again called upon to compete in a national championships and it was again for their counties albeit in the school whole academic year age groups rather than the UKA designated ranges. This meant that runners moved from the top of their age group to what they all term “’bottom year’.
In the team stakes, Surrey had two wins, while Kent were second in all three boys races.
Innes FitzGerald was the most predictable winner of the day and the Exeter runner duly opened out the biggest margin of the afternoon after an equally dominant under-17 Inter-Counties win the previous week over Zoe Gilbody. Here the 16-year-old’s margin over second-placed Rebecca Flaherty was nearly a minute as Lauren Russell took third.
Organisers struggled to remember a bigger margin of victory in the entire history of the championships. Bear in mind FitzGerald’s race was only 4.5km as well, which she completed in 15:21 and which meant she had only a limited amount of ground to create such a lead.
Flaherty was always in the hunt for silver but Eve Whitaker was an early bet for a medal before she was given the jump by Russell, who had come from outside the top half-dozen or so in the second half of the race.
The tall FitzGerald noted that her “start was not very good but then took the lead on the first corner.”
Thereafter the margin increased although the Devon runner said: “I was pretty sure that I was going slower on the second lap.”
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