The cream of our distance running talent heading to Birmingham for UK Intercounties Championships (From Basildon Recorder)
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The cream of our distance running talent heading to Birmingham for UK Intercounties Championships
TOMORROW the cream of our distance running talent will be heading to Birmingham for arguably the biggest date on the cross-country calendar.
South Essex athletes will once again provide a strong bulk of the athletes racing at the UK Intercounties Cross-Country Championships, which double up as the World Cross-Country trials for the senior and under-20 age groups.
Southend AC’s Adam Hickey will be leading the senior men’s team in Birmingham. The 23-year-old has been affected by a niggling Achilles injury since winning his first senior Great Britain vest at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country at the start of the year, but will be looking to feature high up in the race.
The senior men’s team in support of Hickey has been decimated in recent weeks.
The county champion Tom Payn pulled out this week because of work commitments while Southend-based Paul Whittaker (illness) and Southend AC Tom Frith (injury) are other strong runners who have been forced to pull out. Hickey’s training partner Gemma Kersey (Basildon AC) will be among the county’s leading lights in the senior women’s race.
The 21-year-old will be racing the intercounties for the first time as a senior and has made it clear her priorities for this year lie on the track this summer so will be just wanting to get a good gauge of where her fitness lies.
For the first time in many years, Jessica Judd won’t be competing at the intercounties meaning the under-20 women’s team is not as strong as it could have been.
But the likes of Basildon AC duo Eleanor Johnson and Jade Peel will be hoping to continue their good form this winter.
The under-20 men’s team will include Basildon AC duo Jack Fitsall and Tom Richardson while the under-17 men will have Adam Houchell (Basildon AC) and Southend AC pair Rob Frith and Ben Franklin among their ranks.
Westcliff’s George Elliott will be hoping to be in the mix in the under-15 boys race after a strong run in the snow at the national cross-country championships two weeks ago.
The faster and drier Birmingham course should suit Elliott – the reigning English Schools 800m champion – a bit more and he will have strong support in the team from the likes of Southend AC duo Adam Jordan and Lawrence Willmore, plus Basildon pair Christian Gray and Max Jones.
Talented young duo Gus Withers and Toby Wright will be leading the Essex under-13 team and will be hoping to be among the front-runners. Withers will have two of his Basildon AC athletes for company in the shape of Mitchel Cox and Mason Webb.
In the girls section, the under-17 women’s team looks a good bet for a medal of some colour.
Canvey’s Jodie Judd, who finished third in the under-13 girls race last year, will lead the under-15 girls team and will have strong support from Victoria Hiscock (Benfleet RC) and Jemima Walker (Basildon AC).
Two more Benfleet RC athletes will be in the under-13 girls team – Sinead Clark and Megan Richardson – while Niamh Smith (Basildon AC) and Southend High School for Girls’ Katie Faint will also line-up in a team that should run well.
l The UK Intercounties will be screened live on Sky Sports 3 from 11am tomorrow. For live updates, follow our reporter, Ryan Goad, on Twitter @ryan_goad