Here's Barry Warne's report from a muddy Parliament Hill.
Over 5,000 runners descended on a muddy Parliament Hill Fields in North London on Saturday, the setting for The National Cross Country Championship. Nene Valley Harriers athletes took on England's elite, and proved themselves equal to the challenge.
In the senior ladies race, in form cross country specialist Cat Foley capped a fine season, exceeding even her own few expectations, coming home in 23rd position out of 861 finishers. In an race where it is easy to get bogged down in the large field, the 28 year old Stamford based athlete displayed tactical astuteness heading for the front from the gun, and helping to set the pace on an arduous early uphill climb. Foley's finishing position was the best ever by a Nene Valley senior lady in a national championship. She covered the mudbound 8 kilometre course in an eye catching time of 32:59.
Exciting young prospect, Amelia Monaghan followed up her victory in the Cambridgeshire Cross Country Championship with an outstanding performance, finishing 10th in the under 13 girls 3 kilometre race in a time of 13:12, just 19 seconds slower than the bronze medallist. Not to be outdone by Foley, she also recorded the highest ever placing by a Harrier in her category. A feat made all the more impressive, given that Monaghan has only been running competitively for loves 2 seasons. Amber Park ran well coming home in 97th position in the same race.
It was a good day for the Ellison family, with siblings Megan and Ethan both enjoying excellent runs. Megan came home in 60 place in the under 15 girls race, whilst her brother finished 58th in the boys under 13 race.
Cambridgeshire schoolboy's cross country champion Alex Hampson rarely disappoints, and battled through the mud for a top 50 finish in the boys under 17 race. He received sterling support from Oliver Bowling in 160th position, Jevan Robertson (168th)and Austin Herbert (183rd) to secure 15th place for the team. James McCrae impressed with 60th position in the under 20 mens race, covering the 10 kilometre course in 37:22.
The 12 kilometre senior men's race boasted a field over 2,000 strong, and 20 year old Lloyd Kempson enhanced his growing reputation, with a dogged run that saw him finish in 292nd position in a time of 46:47.
Head coach Russ Prosser was delighted with Nene Valley's showing, and reflected that "it was great to see fine runs across so many of the age groups". After a highly successful cross country season Prosser will be confident that the club's elite will sign off in style at The Inter counties Championship on 7 March at Birmingham.