JESSICA Judd and Gemma Kersey warmed up for their bids to make the Great Britain European Cross-Country team by heading to Bristol for the first big domestic meeting of the winter.
The pair, along with Adam Hickey and Jessica’s younger sister Jodie, were the south Essex representations at the first McCain Cross-Country Challenge of the season in Bristol’s Ashton Park.
And there were contrasting fortunes for the quartet – with Kersey and Jodie Judd both putting in impressive runs, while Jessica Judd and Hickey both admitted to being slightly disappointed with their races.
Jessica Judd, 17, finished second in the under-20/under-17 race, but was the first under-20 home.
She was disappointed to have been beaten by the teenage Kent prodigy Bobby Clay, who is two years her junior.
But she said afterwards it was a good marker as she looks to make the GB under-20 team for the European Cross-Country Championships in Budapest in December.
Last year she opted not to travel to the championships, despite winning selection, but this time round she wants to give it a shot.
“I’m disappointed, but I gave it my all,” she said. “I have only been working with my new coach (Rob Denmark) for six weeks and we are working on me getting better at cross-country.
“We have been making a few changes and I have been happy with how things are going.
“But Bobby ran very well on the day.”
Judd was leading for most of the 4.39km race before being caught by Clay in the final 300m.
And she said her endurance is something that she is working on.
“I’m doing more endurance now,” said the Canvey teen. “I felt great for the first three-quarters. I just need to build my endurance and get back to winning.”
Kersey, 20, is another targeting the European Championships.
Last year she was part of the under-20 gold medal-winning GB team but has stepped up an age group this time round.
She will be pushing for a spot in the under-23 team but will have to race against the seniors.
In her first big race in the older age group, Kersey said she was “really pleased” to finish fourth overall and the first under-23 in Bristol, just 30 seconds back on race winner Caryl Jones (Swansea).
Both Kersey and Jessica Judd will race the next McCain Challenge Series in Liverpool on November 24, which will be the selection race for the European Championships.
Hickey is another athlete who will be in Liverpool, although he is prioritising the UK Intercounties and World Cross-Country Championships qualifier in Birmingham in March.
The Southend AC athlete finished 11th in Bristol, 1m 15s behind the victor Dewi Griffiths (Swansea).
Jodie Judd, 14, has stepped up to the under-15 girls age group this winter, but again showed her continued rise with a fine third place at Bristol.