Favourites romp to victory in great style
RACE favourites Emma Stepto and Peter Le Grice retained their individual titles in last Sunday's ninth Marazion 10K, round two of the Cornwall Grand Prix Series, sponsored by Cornwall Glass and Glazing.
Stepto (Cornwall AC) won her fifth successive Marazion race and setting her third successive course record, eclipsing last year's record by sixteen seconds, crossing the line in 34 minutes 35 seconds.
While Emma finished fourth overall the Ladies' runner-up, Miranda Heathcote (Newquay Road Runners) also finished in the top ten in seventh place, clocking the outstanding time of 36 minutes 32 seconds.
Le Grice (Mounts Bay Harriers) had things pretty much all his own way from the start, moving ahead on the back lanes towards Plain an Gwarry and St Hilary.
With no close challengers, the race became an examination of concentration, which the Mounts Bay Harrier passed with flying colours, clocking 32 minutes 54 seconds, only 15 seconds slower than his winning time in 2012.
Cornwall AC's Justin Thomas, the winner of the previous Grand Prix race, the Stormforce 10 a fortnight earlier, had to settle for second place this time out, over a minute behind the Penzance athlete, with another Mounts Bay Harrier, Neil Eddy, holding off Emma by 17 seconds to finish in third place.
With two runners in the top three and Mounts Bay's remaining four 'A' team runners finishing between 18th and 21st places, the local club looked to be mounting a strong challenge to Cornwall AC for the Men's team prize, eventually losing out to the defending Grand Prix champions by 13 points, with Hayle Runners a further 22 points back in third place.
Back to the Ladies' race, with another Cornwall AC runner, the up and coming 22-year-old Heidi Cottam, smashing her personal best and comfortably dipping under the magical forty minute barrier, in a swift 39 minutes 27 seconds.
Naomi Tier (Cornwall AC) trotted around to finish fourth, which was perhaps the individual achievement of the entire race, as Naomi won the Thames Ultra Challenge on the previous day, covering 44 miles along the Thames towpath from Oxford to Henley in six hours 16 minutes.
The race should have been run over 50 miles but had to be shortened and diverted over waterlogged fields due to flooding on the towpath The diversions included trudging in parts through knee deep cold water, just adding a little more interest to this formidable challenge.
The Ladies' team race proved to be much less competitive than the Men's as Cornwall AC (35 points) strolled to their second Grand Prix win of the year, with their six scoring Ladies finishing in the top 11. In fact the club had ten of the first 18 finishers. Hayle Runners (87 points) once again filled the runners-up spot ahead of Newquay Road Runners (139 points).
Jordan Morant again led the men's team home, supported by Russell Turner, Simon Knowles, Scott Abraham, Daniel Costello and Mike Dowrick. Daniel was third in the under 20's age group and Simon third in his 35-39 age group. Stewart Townend was first and Richard Saundry third in their 70-74 age group.
Hayle Runners club captain Craig Tonkin felt the whole event had gone well.
He said: "Our new race director Wendy Pascoe did a brilliant job, we had our largest number of finishers yet and we are grateful to the strong support given to the event by our sponsors The Duchy Hospital, along with the large number of volunteers from Marazion and further afield who helped make the day a great success."
Full race results, see Digest page 104.
GOLDEN DAY FOR BOYS:
The rookie Minor Boys were Cornwall's golden performers at the South West Schools' Cross Country Championships in Bristol, writes Kevin Fahey.
Led by Finn Birnie in third place the Cornish boys swamped the top ten with their next five runners sweeping aside their rivals with James Greenwood fourth, Archie Vingoe fifth, Fred Bareham eighth, Thomas Fisher ninth and Jasper Hartley tenth.
"That was an awesome performance by our boys," said team manager John Knowles.
"It was great to see Finn make the podium but the packing of the other five behind him to all finish inside the top ten, not to forget the other three lads also running well, was brilliant to watch and the boys were a credit to the county vest.
"It was one of the best team displays I have seen."
Finn, a 12-year-old from Truro School who lives in St Austell, certainly had an inspiration run as he finished probably faster than the winner moving from fifth to third in the closing stages during Saturday's race.
"I had a good sprint at the end to get third and I am very happy with that," said Finn.
"I wasn't sure what to expect but I would say that was definitely my best ever run and I relay enjoyed myself. And it is great to win the team gold as well."
Birnie's storming finish took him ahead of Wadebridge School's Greenwood with Mounts Bay Academy youngster Vingoe, who was only eighth in the county championships, enjoying his best ever run in fifth.
Bareham (Truro School), Fisher (Penair) and Hartley (Penryn) completed an over-whelming team success. Knowles had an even keener interest in Molly Long's performance as he coaches the 16-year-old Truro School student from Trevone, near Padstow.
Long has only raced once this winter due to injury but such is her quality that she announced her comeback with an emphatic win in the county championships last month. While track remains her priority – she is one of the best 800m runners in the country – Long showed that she is steadily returning to form with a hard-earned silver medal in a highly competitive inter girls' race just doing enough to hold off her fast-finishing Devon rival.
"Molly isn't a huge fan of cross country but as I keep telling her it is essential to build up her strength and stamina during the winter for the summer track season," said Knowles.
"After all the problems Molly has had that silver medal represents a really good run and she should be pleased with that."
Long also picked up a second silver as she led the Cornwall squad of Charlotte Cayton-Smith (Newquay Tretherras), Yvonne Chart (Truro School), Tess Masselink (Callington Community College), Lowenna Hawkey (Newquay Tretherras) and Amy Bennallick (Callington Community) to second place behind Devon.
While it was just the two individual medals Truro School's county champion Emily Becconsall came agonisingly close in the Minor Girls' race, finishing fourth and just three seconds off a place on the podium. There were also top ten finishes for Truro High School's Yoyo Barnsley in the junior girls' race, Helston Community School's Callum Jones in the senior boys' age group and Callington Community College student Sam Lane de Courtin in the inter boys.
Results page 104.